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Football Wonderkids

Mateo Apolonio: Profile, playing style & scouting report

Published at :May 17, 2024 at 6:02 PM
Modified at :May 18, 2024 at 4:06 PM
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(Courtesy : Deportivo Riestra)

Rajarshi Shukla


Meet the youngest player to debut in the history of Argentina’s First Division football

Mateo Apolonio, a midfielder for Deportivo Riestra, re-wrote history on Thursday by becoming the youngest player ever to compete in Argentina’s First Division at the age of 14 years and 29 days.

More than a year separated Apolonio from the previous record, which was held by former Manchester City player Sergio Agüero. In the 84th minute of Riestra’s Copa Argentina round of 16 match against Newell’s Old Boys, midfielder Gonzalo Bravo was replaced on the pitch by Apolonio. Riestra lost 1-0. In his little time on the pitch, he witnessed little action.

“I was in the living room of my house, my mother called me and my father was crying on the phone. And there he told me: You were call to the first division squad,” Apolonio said in a video posted before the match on the team’s Twitter account.

It is a unique experience and no matter what happens, it will be a beautiful memory for me.”

“It is a unique experience and no matter what happens, it will be a beautiful memory for me.”For more than twenty years, Agüero’s July 5, 2003, 15-year and 33-day-old debut with Independiente had been the record.

After the team’s opening league match last Saturday, Riestra coach Cristian Fabbiani made a hint about Apolonio’s selection, saying he thought the 14-year-old was ready for professional action.

Despite not touching the ball, Apolonio was a left midfielder who was diligent in marking and lingered for the rebound on a few set pieces that Riestra had in the epilogue. The Buenos Aires squad prioritised the First Division tournament since it is trying to stay in the league, thus Mateo, along with other young players, had already made headlines when he was called up.

For the Leprosy team, it was also a special situation. Mauricio Larriera, coach, referred to the teenager’s presentation:

“There is a reason the boy played and participated, we have to mark him with the same force with which we mark a 38-year-old player. I like it when kids debut, but he seemed very small to me. I don’t know how the footballers felt it, but in the heat of the fight they didn’t notice it,” he explained.

Mateo Apolonio’s play style

Apolonio is just 14 and given he has already made a senior debut for his side makes one wonder how mature he is when it comes to his style of play because no club would instantly hand a teenager debut for their first team. He certainly has impressed during his youth level which led to him getting the first-team ticket and making history in Argentine football.

He operates as a midfielder and his understanding of the game makes him an impactful player at just a very young age. It’s evident there is more room for development but he has already learned the basics of football and while growing up he will only get better if he gets the right guidance.

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