Referee Alex Troleis from Faroe Islands blew his whistle three times, putting out the first and only UEFA Europa League fist qualifying round match between Tre Penne and Giljani. Visitor team from Kosovo managed to overcome an early upset and win by 3-1 score, advancing to the next UEFA Europa League round. This was another missed chance for Alfredo Chierigini set an extraordinary age record for UEFA official competitions.
Born in February 7th, 1966, the 54-year-old Italian goalkeeper is the oldest footballer who was ever included in an official UEFA inter-club cup competition. The third-choice goalkeeper of Tre Penne had a secret dream that his coach would give him the chance of playing even for some minutes in this first match. But the coach Stefano Ceci, who’s three years younger than his goalkeeper, made a tough decision: First choice goalie Mattia Migani would be the starter and ordinary substitute Mauro Lanzoni would be on the bench.
Don’t look for bad feelings and marginalization protest on Chierigini’s behalf. After joining Tre Penne back in 2007-2008 season, he had seen rare playing time. During these 13 seasons he played only in 33 matches in total, 23 in San Marino Championships and 10 for the local cups. Unfortunately, he was not chosen to defend his club’s goalposts in none of nine European Cups matches.
In fact, Chierigini was in the bench in two such matches, both away: In 2019 Tre Penne lost 5-0 to Lithuanian club Suduva and in 2017 they lost 6-0 in Skopje vs. Rabotnicki. Had Chierigini played in these matches, he would also break the record, now held by Marco Ballotta, an also Italian goalkeeper. We has 44 years old when playing with SS Lazio vs. Olympiacos Piraeus in UEFA Champions League group phase.
However, he’s not disappointed. He knows how to wait and he seems determined to let one year more pass by, in order to break the record in 2021-22 start of the season. A necessary requirement is Tre Penne to grab one of three first places in Sammarinese championship, in order to get an appearance in UEFA competitions, but as he said in a recent interview, this seems quite secure. As for his personal motivation, it couldn’t be discussed: He’s arriving always first in practice and leaves last, being an example of professionalism and club devotion. Even if he knows that he will watch most of the games from the stands, he’s always there. A real football Mathuselah, searching for his next chance.
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