Rafael Santos Puri was already considered a striker for Argentina’s own goals, on Wednesday in Seville Garibaldi became the world champion. Similar to the 19th century Italian freedom fighter who fought his campaigns in South America, the Colombian triumphed on both sides of the Atlantic.
He became the only player to score in all of the Copa Libertadores knockout stages on CA River Plate, the long-established Argentine club from Buenos Aires. And now he scored not only goals in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, but also on Wednesday in the final of the European League, which he won together with Eintracht Frankfurt. Not least because he was also successful from point to 5:4 on penalties – after forcing extra time with his goal to equalize 1:1.
The goal of making the score 1-1 was no accident. exactly the contrary. “We showed the players the situation in the first half. We often managed to get past Ansgar Knauff and Filip Kostic (on the wings), but we didn’t have the determination in the penalty area, we didn’t have the strength to stand up,” said Eintracht coach Oliver Glasner. Specifically attacking the first post and this is what Rafa did. He was fighting for that goal.”
Rafael Santos Puri from the Caribbean – the Colombian is now enjoying great success in Frankfurt
Santos Puri was born in Barranquilla, a town on the Caribbean coast of Colombia as famous for carnival as it is for Gabriel García Márquez, a master of magical realism. Santos Puri joined Eintracht last summer. Free transfer, but laurels – and with a recommendation to be River coach Marcelo Gallardo’s all-time top scorer who won the title. He scored eight goals in 31 Bundesliga matches and four goals in 13 Europa League matches. It’s no coincidence, he loves big stages.
His powerful shot from 25 meters under the crossbar during Eintracht’s legendary visit to Barcelona’s Camp Nou was burned into the memory of Frankfurt fans as an act of brutal beauty. “It is these special games that allow us to experience and enjoy unique moments!” said the 26-year-old in the catacombs of the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in Seville! “I always say to my teammates: These are the games where you have to call upon your full potential and show your character.” He did, and it wasn’t something trivial to him.
“My dream has always been to win the Libertadores, so winning my first European title in Spain has a special flavor,” he explained. He moved to Atlético Madrid when he was young, was never used and was loaned to Villarreal FC; There I only played there intermittently, and as he later revealed, I thought it might be best to get it all off. “A lot of people thought I wasn’t ready for these moments, so to come back here with a German team and win the title is very special.”
In Germany, he said in Seville, he had to change his playing style: “In South America possession is more important. Everything is more direct here, you can let the ball go faster. I also had to relearn some movements.” These movements were mainly in the game without and against the ball.
“He is very important to us, not only because of his offensive actions and goals, but also in defense because he goes a long way for us,” coach Oliver Glasner praised. Santos Puri also finished himself on Wednesday. Playing against Calvin Basie, a huge guy the size of Glasgow dock cranes, it must have felt like trying to climb a downhill escalator with a refrigerator on your back.
The prize: the Cup, qualification for the Champions League – and the final of the European Super Cup, on August 10 in Helsinki against the winner of the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool. He’s hoping for the Reds, because one of his compatriots in his plays there, Luis Diaz, also comes from the Colombian Caribbean coast and is now the darling of Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp. “I love him very much,” said Puri. “It would be very nice to face him.”