Is Argentine former field hockey player Italy’s new goal scorer?

Is Argentine former field hockey player Italy’s new goal scorer?
Mateo Retegui celebrates his goal against England

NOS Soccer

Be honest. What did you know about Mateo Retegui before he scored the tying goal on his debut for Italy in the European Championship qualifier against England last Thursday?

Not much, probably. Because outside of the most fanatical followers of the Argentine Primera Divisíon, hardly anyone knows the 24-year-old striker of the modest Buenos Aires-based Club Atlético Tigre.

But those who are aware of international field hockey will certainly know Retegui’s name.

Real field hockey family

Mateo Retegui – tonight he plays with Italy against Malta – in fact comes from a prestigious field hockey family. His father is Carlos Retegui, who once participated in the Olympics with Max Caldas.

As a player, he didn’t get further than ninth and 11th place. As a national coach he did. He led the Argentine women to the world title (2010) and silver twice (2012 and 2021) at the Olympics. The Argentine men’s gold at the 2016 Olympics was an outright sensation.

At the 2014 World Cup in The Hague, he even performed a remarkable double. Observant spectators could see Retegui running from one field hockey field to another.

Field hockey World Cup 2014: Argentine national coach Retegui coaches men and women at the same time

Former Dutch international Jacques Brinkman, who himself played field hockey against Retegui, spoke outrageously of the fact that Retegui coached both the men and women that World Cup.

“This cannot be at all, it should be banned,” Brinkman spoke decisively. “I hope he goes down on his face.”

Retegui held on proudly and finished the World Cup with two bronze medals.

Mateo Retegui was still in diapers when he stayed at my house with his mother and sister.

Field hockey coach Alex Verga

In the stands of the Zuiderpark stadium in The Hague sat his wife María Grandoli with daughter Micaela and son Mateo. While father Carlos worked his ass off with his dual job, his family made trips to Amsterdam and Utrecht.

  • Instagram | micaretegui23

    While father Carlos does a double at the 2014 World Hockey Championship, Maria, Micaela and Mateo Retegui make trips to the Netherlands.
  • Instagram | micaretegui23

    During Netherlands-Argentina in 2014, the Retegui’s sit in the stands in The Hague.
  • Instagram | micaretegui23

    A few months after the 2014 World Cup, Micaela Retegui met the Dutch field hockey players at the Youth Olympiad in China….
  • Instagram | micaretegui23

    …And she took a picture with field hockey hero Teun de Nooijer.

It was not the family’s first visit to the Netherlands. “In 2003, when Carlos played the Champions Trophy at Wagener Stadium, his family slept at my house in Almere,” Alex Verga says. “The kids were still small then. Mateo was even still in diapers.”

The current coach of Almere’s field hockey players and father of international Valentin Verga has known the Retegui family all his life.

“I played hockey with Carlos on the Argentine team. And Maria I still trained with. In 1991 I came to the Netherlands and so it was logical that they could sleep with me. After that, the contact got watered down. When we see each other, like at the 2014 World Cup, we greet each other.”

In 2003, young Mateo and Micaela Retegui were guests of field hockey coach Alex Verga in Almere.

But the field hockey world is small and so sooner or later you meet again. For example, in the finals of the Tokyo Olympics.

That Argentina played that final against the Orange was no surprise; both have been at the top of global field hockey for years. Afterwards, the Dutch players would sound the alarm about an unsafe sports climate under national coach Alyson Annan.


With the Argentines, another issue was at play. Indeed, many field hockey followers questioned the selection of Micaela Retegui, who certainly did not seem to be among the best field hockey players at the time.

Micaela did not get much playing time in Tokyo from her father. Still, she could have made her mark on the final. Indeed, when the score was 0-0, she had a giant chance.

OS 2014: Father and daughter Retegui in Olympic final against Orange

Until the age of eighteen, Mateo Retegui also seemed on his way to a great field hockey career. Like his sister, he played for Club Esgrima de Buenos Aires and was a regular in the Argentine youth selections.

“As a field hockey player, Mateo would have made it to the top as well,” Verga knows. “For sure.”

“If you don’t dream, you will never find what lies beyond your dreams,” Mateo Retegui, then a field hockey player, wrote in 2015.

At 18, Retegui only chose soccer for good. He started in the youth academy of River Plate, father Carlos’ favorite team. Later he transferred to great rival Boca Juniors.

In November 2018, he made his debut as Carlos Tévez’s replacement, but his breakthrough did not come. Lacking playing time, Retegui even had himself rented out to Estudiantes, Tallères de Cordoba and last season to Tigre.

At Tigre he picked up steam: in 35 matches at the highest level, he has already scored 25 goals. And that at a relegation candidate.

Managing agent Totti

After the national field hockey selection, Retegui also made it to the Argentine youth selections as a soccer player. But for a place alongside Lionel Messi in the selection of the later world champion, it was far too early, thought national coach Lionel Scaloni.

Quite possibly Scaloni felt a little regret when he saw Retegui in Naples humming along to Italy’s national anthem.

Micaela Retegui is proud of her brother Mateo after his debut for the Italian soccer team.

Indeed, in Argentina, no one took into account that there could well be hijackers on the coast. Although the observant follower should have known better.

Indeed, since 2022, Francesco Totti has been Retegui’s business manager. He is said to have already offered the striker to his great love AS Roma. Following his debut for Italy, clubs like Internazionale and AC Milan are lining up to acquire him.

‘New Batistuta’

National coach Roberto Mancini compared Retegui to a young Gabriel Batistuta before the match against England. After his debut, Mancini actually tempered expectations. “Retegui doesn’t know Italian soccer yet. He needs time.”

National coach Mancini patient with Retegui: ‘He doesn’t know much about Italian soccer’

He didn’t get that time from the English defenders, but he still scored. Against Malta tonight, he will no doubt get more chances.

And then I’m sure it won’t be long before the tifosi get a hold of this Argentine field hockey player.

Kayleigh Williams