By Chris Wright
River Plate legend Ariel “El Burrito” Ortega officially retired at the grand old age of 39 with a testimonial at El Monumental last night (though he actually bowed out last August), putting a cap on a professional career that began with the Argentinian side in 1991, with whom he went on to win seven league and cup titles in three separate stints at the club.
As well as the 60,000 fans in the stadium, a slew of Ortega’s former teammates for both club and country turned out to wave him off, with the likes of Romario, Juan Sebastien Veron, Javier Saviola, Roberto Ayala and Enzo Francescoli (among many others) all getting their fair share of minutes in a game which saw a River Plate XI take on an “Ortega XI”, with the man himself playing one half for either side.
However, despite all the stellar names on parade, the moment of the match was stolen by a young man yet to make his mark on the football world, Ortega’s 12-year-old son Tomas, who scored his first ever goal for River Plate after being played through by his old man.
Cue the waterworks…