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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Amateur Footballer Joins Uruguay Squad for Costa Rica Game

An amateur league forward was called up to join a Uruguay squad composed of local football players to play a friendly match against Costa Rica on Friday, the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) announced on Monday.

Walter Domínguez, the top scorer of the Organization of Interior Football (OFI), which brings together non-professional clubs from all over the country except the capital Montevideo, was called up for the match that the Celeste and Ticos will play at the National Stadium in San José on Friday at 20:00 local time (02:00 GMT on Saturday).

Domínguez, 24, is part of the so-called “Local Environment Team,” recently created to give exposure to footballers competing in tournaments in Uruguay and provide clubs with “a showcase to display them internationally,” according to the AUF.

This alternative squad will not be led by Argentine Marcelo Bielsa, head of the Celeste, who is preparing to play in the Copa América in the United States in June and July.

Instead of ‘Loco’ Bielsa, Diego Pérez, one of the assistants of the coaching staff of the Uruguayan team that won the U-20 World Cup in Argentina in 2023, will be in charge.

In addition to Domínguez, forward for the Juventud de Soriano club (west) and champion of the OFI National Team Cup, the list of players called up by ‘Ruso’ Pérez includes notable figures such as goalkeeper Randall Rodríguez from Peñarol, midfielder Rodrigo Chagas from Nacional, and forward Matías Fonseca from Wanderers and brother of River Plate Argentina’s midfielder Nicolás Fonseca.

In total, 23 players make up the Celeste squad for the friendly in Costa Rica, which is not played on a FIFA date. “The truth is that I am very happy. I didn’t expect it, it came as a surprise,” Domínguez told journalist Alex Martin in a video published on the social network X on May 4, when it became known that he had been reserved for this match.

It is not the first time that an amateur footballer from the interior reaches the Celeste without having played as a professional, although it hasn’t happened for more than four decades, according to records cited by the newspaper El Observador.

The last ones, Jorge Rodríguez and Enzo Ángelo, were called up in 1978, and before that, Omar Rey in 1973, all three from clubs in the Paysandú department.

The most emblematic case, however, occurred in 1957, when Néstor ‘Tito’ Gonçalves went directly from Universitario de Salto to the Uruguayan national team, with which he played in the 1962 Chile and 1966 England World Cups. He became a legend with Peñarol in the 1960s, winning three Copa Libertadores, two Intercontinental Cups (now the Club World Cup), and nine Uruguayan championships.

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