When Luka Romero stepped onto the pitch in the 83rd minute of RCD Mallorca’s match away at Real Madrid on Wednesday night, he made history as soon as his studs touched the grass of the Estadio Di Stéfano pitch.
At 15 years and 219 days of age, Romero became the very youngest player in the 91-year history of Spain’s top division.
The record had previously been held by Francisco Bao Rodríguez, known as Sanson, who played for his hometown club RC Celta against Sevilla back in 1939 at the age of just 15 years and 255 days. Real Sociedad’s Pedro Irastorza and Real Zaragoza’s Óscar Ramón were the only other players to make their LaLiga debuts while still 15, before Romero became the fourth.
Romero has come a long way to reach this special and historic moment. He was born to Argentine parents in Durango City, Mexico, where his father Diego was playing professional football. Due to his father’s career, Romero moved around a lot as a kid, moving to Spain and eventually to Formentera, an island a short ferry ride from Mallorca.
There, as Romero started playing in attacking midfield with local clubs, he caught many scouts’ attention due to his excellent dribbling ability, his magical left foot and his wild goalscoring numbers. Even Barcelona heard about him, but Romero stayed put and joined RCD Mallorca’s academy in 2015 at the age of 10.
He gradually rose up the club’s youth ranks before being invited to train with the first team by coach Vicente Moreno following RCD Mallorca’s return from the coronavirus-enforced pause in action. The 15-year-old really impressed the coach, so much so that Moreno called Romero up for the team’s recent fixtures with Villarreal and Leganés. The teenager didn’t come off the bench in either of those games, but it was third time lucky as he finally did against Real Madrid, the league leaders, this week.
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As Moreno insisted afterwards, Romero was there playing against Real Madrid’s superstars on merit. As the coach said in his post-match press conference, following Mallorca’s 2-0 loss: “He is just 15 years of age and if we put him out there to play then it was because we believe he deserved to be there. It’s because we believe he is good enough. He’s building up rhythm and getting better in training each day. You’ll soon see what we’re talking about because he is a great player.”
The player himself was thrilled to make his debut, posting a message on social media after making history on the pitch: “This was an unforgettable moment. Thanks to all of the coaching staff and to RCD Mallorca for giving me this opportunity. I’ll never forget this day. It’s a shame we lost, but we’ll keep on believing.”
As Mallorca continue fighting against the threat of relegation during the final weeks of the season, there could be further opportunities for Romero to play. He really is something special and has been dubbed ‘The Mexican Messi’ by some in the media, though his family are uneasy with the nickname because of the pressure it invites. That said, Mallorca’s assistant coach Dani Pendín recently explained in an interview with AS that “Romero is quick, crafty, smart and competitive, like a prototypical Argentine No.10”.
Romero has so far chosen to represent Argentina at national level, despite also eligible to play for Mexico and Spain. Currently rising through the Albiceleste’s youth categories, his development is cause for excitement in the South American nation as well as in Mallorca.
All those close to him are calling for patience and reminding people that this special talent isn’t even 16 yet. They’re also all genuinely excited for his future. Luka Romero could go on to make LaLiga history in many other ways.
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