The past week saw two of the Primera División's most dependable veterans decide on a fresh start. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic may mean that their farewells occurred in less than ideal circumstances, but Ignacio Scocco and Gastón Fernández will surely not have to wait too long until they are toasted once again by the River Plate and Estudiantes faithful respectively.
Scocco has opted to cut ties with River at the age of 35, after three trophy-laden years at the Monumental. It is not quite the end for the inveterate poacher, though. While his next move is yet to be confirmed the Rosario native is almost certain to play the 2020-2021 season at his beloved Newell's Old Boys, returning to the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa for what will be his fourth spell with the Lepra.
“You made me feel as if I had played for River my entire life,” Scocco signalled in a message to River fans released on the striker's Instagram page.
The sensation will surely be mutual for the Millonario support. In just three years Scocco became a club icon, scoring 38 goals in 90 matches and helping the side to two Copa Libertadores finals, including that famous victory over Boca Juniors back in 2018.
While persistent injury problems prevented Nacho from featuring on a more regular basis over the years, one thing that never betrayed him was his sense of opportunity in front of goal; whenever River in need, he seemed to be in the right place at the right time with a knee, shin or toe to poke into the net.
The Millonarios will have the chance to pay their respects to Scocco once the Primera is up and running once more. For 'La Gata' Fernández, however, there will sadly be no emotional send-off, at least in a competitive clash. The well-travelled platinum-coiffured playmaker has decided not to wait for the resumption of activities and hang up his boots once and for all, drawing a close on an equally impressive stint in professional football.
Fernández starred at the top level in Brazil, Mexico, Chile and the United States as well as representing the likes of River, Racing Club, San Lorenzo and the Pincha in his home nation, but he will be most fondly remembered for his heroics in delivering Estudiantes' first Libertadores title in almost forty years in 2009, scoring the La Plata club's equaliser in the return leg of the final against Cruzeiro on the way to a stunning 2-1 victory in Belo Horizonte.
“It is hard to start off, so many things come to my head. I am more nervous than the day I debuted in the River first team having just turned 19,” Fernández admitted in his own video missive to fans. “I am so happy with this spell that is now ending. I have peace of mind in knowing I have fulfilled my dream, which I set myself right back when I first fell in love with the ball at the age of five.”
After more than 10 years, 200 games and major crowns both in Argentina and on the continental stage, La Gata will rightfully go down alongside the likes of Juan Ramón and Juan Sebastian Verón, Carlos Bilardo and Alejandro Sabella as a club great.
He and Scocco may have to wait some time to receive a proper goodbye but their feats and goals will live on long after each player has departed.