Ariel Rocha, the last Ferro goalkeeper who played against Boca

On March 19, 2000, fans of Ferro they left the field cursing a defeat against Mouth without knowing that it had been the last. That day, it took three minutes for the team to charles bianchi in giving the first blow, with a great goal Juan Riquelme. It was thrashed and the chronicle of that match published in Clarion He gives an account of the mistakes of Caballito’s team and how they made things easier for him. “I don’t remember, were I sure I was taking the cut?”Question Ariel Rock (49), the last archer of the Purslane who faced the Xeneize. That campaign was so bad, worse than the previous two, that they only won two games and at the end of Clausura 2000, Caballito’s team descended to the B Nacional and from there plummeted to the Primera B. A metaphor for the country that was coming .

Rocha continued his career in Independiente and made his debut in the local tournament –his first game in the Red was against Universidad Católica for the Libertadores- against Boca, who had just beaten real Madrid by Intercontinental. “We beat him 4-0”, she points out with a better memory. And it was not the first time that the Xeneize was going to cross paths: when he debuted in the Primera de Ferro, that was also the rival. Rocha left the activity at the age of 31, with plenty of room to continue.

In Independiente he was ostracized: he did not even train with the Reserve. He managed to recover his pass after the intervention of the Argentine Football Players Association. Among other things, Rocha publicly denounced that the club’s leaders kept part of the soccer players’ salaries. Rocha was not born to remain silent. He went on to Nueva Chicago and the last stop in Arsenal de Sarandí. For that time, his head was not in the world of football. Today he earns his living as an agricultural producer with fields in Lezama and Chascomús -raising and fattening cattle, with cereal production- and together with his family he is in charge of bus line 178 that connects Pompeya with Florencio Varela.

Ariel Rocha, the former Ferro and Independiente goalkeeper, among others, aboard a group from his company. Photo: Maxi Failla

-How did the fields and the collective come about?

-When I played soccer, the players started for (the real estate investment of) the apartments and I took over for the field, in 91-92. I come from that time. I always liked some lost cell of my mother, who came from Spain and there the family tended a small farm… No one had ever dedicated herself to this. When I retired there I started with the company. My dad was a driver, then a shareholder. I put the same force on the (transport) line that I put on football. I joined the company on June 2, 2002, in the midst of a quilombo: the departure of (President Fernando) De La Rúa. He was at Arsenal… And here we are today.

-At that time you were one of the few footballers who expressed himself about what the country was experiencing at a social level…

-The player tries to commit little. Football always was, and is, a bubble. I was always half green dog in that sense. I would have preferred to take the first step in playing well and being football news. The times I could went well and the times I couldn’t, badly. But I always said the things that the other doesn’t always want to hear. That was always a problem of mine and that’s why I left football at an early age. He did not share the path of the whole world, of the leaders, nothing. That’s going to make you lose lockers on this trip. You’re not a business, you’re nothing, and on top of that, perhaps by not cutting corners like Pato Fillol, you can’t supply it. All my life I tried to say what I felt in the most decorous way, without hurting anyone’s ear. I don’t have the truth, but I say what I think.

Do you regret that look?

-I do not regret! Because I would have had to be very hypocritical to continue playing and leave aside what I thought. I would have to live another life to see what I would do and I am 99 percent sure that I would do the same because the greatest credit I have is my word. What I did not achieve with the gloves, life later made up for. Here everyone wants to twist everything to tie the game and the shit is tied with another shit, not with something well done. So each time we go back further, we tie shit with shit, errors with errors and thus we cannot put together a country, a family, a society, or a soccer team. That’s why I don’t direct, that’s why I don’t play and that’s why I’m where I am, with the affections I have.

Ariel Rocha, in 2000, stretches before a training session in his time at Ferro.

Ariel Rocha, in 2000, stretches before a training session in his time at Ferro.

Do you miss soccer?

-And… No. I don’t miss soccer.

-Do you miss anything?

– The locker room is missed. To be a soccer player in this country is to have VAT: but 50 percent, not 21 or 10.5. As much as you play how you play, you always want to have a soccer player friend. I miss the dressing room, the physical state, feeling the way I felt when I played. Then the environment makes you forget that a bit. I always say, from the humblest place, that if you weren’t in a locker room, you didn’t share years with 30 people who don’t think the same as you but who want to score a goal there and don’t do it here, it’s like you learn a subject more in life. It is a journey with a lot of vertigo where you lose, you win… You have to have a balance that perhaps life does not give you in any field: it is a lot of vertigo. You have to prepare to lose, to retire, to win. Life later gives you the advantage of thinking with more time, but in the arc you have a tenth of a second to decide, playing eight the same. In life you have a day, a week, five months to think about something. Soccer puts you in a place and at one point many are determined and do not reach dessert: they make mistakes because of the trip and guys with many conditions are cut short, guys who could play anywhere and end up not playing anywhere. It happens and it will continue to happen.

Away from soccer, Ariel Rocha is dedicated to public passenger transport and also to livestock activity.  Photo Maxi Failla

Away from soccer, Ariel Rocha is dedicated to public passenger transport and also to livestock activity. Photo Maxi Failla

-Are you going to the field?

-I never went again. Well, actually I’m lying: my son took me, we are all from Independiente and at that time Independiente was at risk of relegation and my oldest son, Bautista, told me: ‘Let’s see if we change the streak’. We went, it was a tie, but the streak and destiny was marked.

-But why didn’t you go more?

-Perhaps it is another of the matters pending analysis that you have to do. I live happy, very motivated in what I do and I don’t stop to see why I don’t go more. I put everything I could put into football and now I put everything into what I’m doing very intensely. Maybe I don’t have the time. Honestly nothing wakes me up. I watch football from England, from Spain, the Argentinos of my friend (Gabriel) Milito, I watch certain matches that I choose, a classic on a Sunday. But if I have to stop doing something that interests me for a game, I don’t do it.

Ariel Rocha gives directions in a 1998 Ferro-Huracán. Photo: Clarín Archive

Ariel Rocha gives directions in a 1998 Ferro-Huracán. Photo: Clarín Archive

Ferro and Boca play for the Argentine Cup, how do you think the fans live it after so long?

-The fan is going to experience it just like the team. The fan returns to the place where he should never have left. Like he has a flash and wakes up in “A” for a while, for 90 minutes. After the game he will come to the reality of where Ferro is today. The team must have maximum concentration. Players will give 100 percent twice because it’s the game where you can go into history and show how you’re doing things. The illusion is double, for the fans and the players.

-The last time they played, you were the goalkeeper. What do you remember?

-I remember many Ferro-Boca. One day we beat Boca de Bilardo, who had Caniggia. The people of Boca left the field, they say. Then a 1-1 with Bambino Veira’s team, who didn’t play Riquelme and by that point they weren’t champions… But I don’t particularly remember that match. I remember the previous one, I had been playing moderately well, I played undercover, I didn’t go well and we lost 4-2… but from 4-0 I don’t have a record… I have a selective memory (laughs)

-Here is the compact on Youtube…

-Yes, indeed it was me (more laughter)

-Ferro-Boca, then, after 22 years, are you going to look at it?

– How about? I’m going to stop to look at it

Ariel Rocha saved in Ferro, Independiente, Nueva Chicago and Arsenal.  Photo Maxi Failla

Ariel Rocha saved in Ferro, Independiente, Nueva Chicago and Arsenal. Photo Maxi Failla