The Legendary ‘Batigol’ Now Makes Polo Goals Tremble‎

The Legendary ‘Batigol’ Now Makes Polo Goals Tremble‎

By Dialogo
March 04, 2009

Gabriel Batistuta, adored at the Italian Fiorentina and the greatest striker in the history of Argentina’s ‎national soccer team, is now shaking the bars of polo goals while making fun of himself for often missing ‎with the mallet, missing many goals, and falling off his horse.‎ This week, the legendary ‘Batigol’ became Argentinean polo’s newest attraction after scoring the winning ‎goal for his team, Loro Piana, over Chapelco (12-11) during his debut at the ‘Campo Argentino del Polo,’ ‎the ‘cathedral’ of this elite sport.‎ ‎“My field of expertise is soccer, and despite having played today with a lot of adrenaline, I am still taking ‎my first steps in polo and embarrassing myself,” said the striker while in the central district of Palermo, ‎where he was acclaimed.‎ Surrounded by women, children, and a crowd of journalists on the field, the man who several times ‎mesmerized the fans of Newell’s Old Boys, Boca Juniors, Fiorentina, Roma, and Inter de Italia, showed ‎that his charisma, humor, and spirit remain the same.‎ At age 40, four years after leaving the soccer field, Batistuta traded his “rip-net” cleats for brown boots to ‎debut in the mythical metropolitan scenario during the third phase of the “IV Argentina Polo Tour Patio ‎Bullrich 2009.”‎ ‎“I think it is great that Batistuta has found his world in the sport of polo. His is a gentleman in and out of ‎the field,” said Marcela Lopez Delgado, a 39-year-old forensic doctor and polo lover.‎ People of all ages and social classes saw him riding and handling the mallet, showing that polo has ‎managed to leave the tight aristocratic circle thanks to Adolfito Cambiaso, the best player in the world and ‎Batistuta’s friend.‎ Playing as a forward and as his friend’s teammate, he scored the last point with a “bati-winner” attitude, ‎eclipsing with his charisma the “Maradona of Polo,” who scored eleven of the twelve goals for his team.‎ ‎“Batistuta surprised me in a good way, and all he needs is to improve his ‘swing,’” said polo player ‎Eduardo ‘Russo’ Heguy (former handicapped 10), honoring this famous polo family’s surname.‎ The crowd gave it up to the historical striker of the Argentina national team (56 goals), when he debuted in ‎Palermo wearing white jeans, a helmet, a mallet, a visor, and a navy blue shirt with a “1” on the back.‎ The team of this player, who was born in Santa Fe (central-east), where the fields are located, is called Loro ‎Piana, where its owner, the Italian businessman Alfio Marchini, also plays.‎ Despite his zero handicap, ‘Bati-polista’ broke social and sports barriers with his presence at a stand selling ‎bacon or Argentina steak sandwiches at a price equivalent to four dollars, beer for three dollars, and sodas ‎for two dollars in a rainy afternoon in Buenos Aires.‎ Diego and Marina White, a married couple who are fans of this exquisite sport and manufacturers of polo ‎uniforms, also admired Batistuta during the six chukkers of the game.‎ ‎“Most importantly, he rides the horse very well and his presence boosts the sport’s popularity,” said the ‎Whites.‎ At the fourth chukker, Batistuta almost scored, but his mallet fell and spun up in the air, and at the end of ‎the period he fell on the ground, due to inexperience.‎ In the fifth chukker he demonstrated why he is known as ‘Batigol,’ when, with one strike he earned soccer ‎cheers from the polo fans when the ball crossed in front of the net, bringing the match to a tie with nine ‎goals.‎
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