Romerito, the star who led the 'Albirroja' to the 1979 continental title.2023-08-28
- The Paraguayan won the second CONMEBOL Copa America™️ title for the ‘Albirroja’ in 1979.
- He scored two of the goals that propelled his national side to the championship.
Julio César Romero, better known as ‘Romerito’ in the football realm, emerged as an iconic figure in Paraguayan sports from the mid-70s until his retirement in the 2000s. His professional football career spanned over two decades.
Regarded by many as one of the best players in Paraguayan football, Romerito steered his country’s national team to their second CONMEBOL Copa America™️ title in 1979.
The talented midfielder captained the Paraguayan youth team that played in the 1979 U-20 World Cup held in Japan. After reaching the quarter-finals, where Paraguay fell to the Soviet Union in a penalty shootout, Romerito, who netted four goals in the competition, was honoured with the Silver Ball award as the tournament’s second-best player. This accolade came second only to Diego Armando Maradona, the renowned Argentine number 10, who also secured the championship.
– Champion of America –
The 1979 CONMEBOL Copa America™️ was one of the few editions of the tournament that took place without a designated venue. As a result, matches involving the ten national teams of CONMEBOL Member Associations were spread across various locations throughout South America.
In the first stage, teams were drawn into three groups, consisting of three teams each, who played each other on a home and away basis. Paraguay was grouped with Ecuador and Uruguay. A 19-year-old Romerito made his appearance as a substitute, participating in the 2-0 home victory against Ecuador and the goalless draw against Uruguay, also in Asuncion.
Paraguay advanced to the semifinals as group winners to face Brazil, whom they overcame 2-1 in the first leg at Defensores del Chaco Stadium. They secured their spot in the final with a 2-2 draw at Maracanã, thanks to Romerito’s first goal of the tournament, converted in the 68th minute to level the score.
The title decider was also played in a two-legged series, with Paraguay hosting Chile in Asuncion for the first leg. Romerito netted two goals for the ‘Guaranis’ in their 3-0 triumph in front of a fully packed Defensores del Chaco. His first goal was a header in the 12th minute that opened the scoring, and he struck again in the 85th minute with a spectacular free kick to seal the outcome.
In the returning match, Paraguay lost 1-0 to Chile in Santiago, which led to a final play-off match at the José Amalfitani Stadium in Buenos Aires. The play-off match concluded in a goalless draw, resulting in the teams being tied at 3–3 on points. Paraguay won on aggregate with a 3–1 scoreline, thus claiming the CONMEBOL Copa America™️ championship for the second time in their history.