Gonzalo Higuaín

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Gonzalo Higuaín
Gonzalo Higuaín 8609.jpg
Higuaín in 2012 while at Real Madrid
Personal information
Full name Gonzalo Gerardo Higuaín
Date of birth (1987-12-10) 10 December 1987 (age 26)
Place of birth Brest, France
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 12 in)[1]
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current team
Napoli
Number 9
Youth career
1999–2005 River Plate
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2005–2007 River Plate 35 (15)
2007–2013 Real Madrid 190 (107)
2013– Napoli 31 (17)
National team
2008 Argentina U23 1 (2)
2009– Argentina 43 (22)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 4 June 2014.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 13 July 2014

Gonzalo Gerardo Higuaín (Spanish pronunciation: [ɡonˈsalo iɣwaˈjin], born 10 December 1987) is an Argentine professional footballer who plays for S.S.C. Napoli in Italy and the Argentina national team as a striker.

He started his career at River Plate, before a transfer to Real Madrid in January 2007 for €12 million. His time in Spain saw him win honours including three La Liga titles, as well as score 107 goals in 190 league appearances. He joined Napoli for €40 million in the Summer of 2013. A full international for Argentina since 2009, Higuaín has represented the country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2011 Copa América.

Nicknamed El Pipita or Pipa, as was his father, Higuaín was born in France, attaining Argentine citizenship in 2007, and now holds dual nationality. He "is known for his speed in the last third of the pitch and his great striking ability."[1]

Early life[edit]

Higuaín was born in Brest, France, the son of the Argentine former footballer Jorge Higuaín, who was playing for Stade Brestois 29 as an expatriate. Therefore, he holds dual French-Argentine nationality. Having left the country at the age of 10 months, he did not return to France until the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Even though he does not speak French, he holds a French passport because his father was naturalized in France. He successfully applied for Argentine nationality in January 2007. Higuaín has two elder brothers, Nicolas and Federico who plays for the Columbus Crew and one younger brother, Lautaro.[2]

Club career[edit]

River Plate[edit]

Higuaín started playing in the youth teams and made his debut with River Plate in a 2–1 defeat against Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata on 29 May 2005.[3] On 12 February 2006, he scored his first league goal in a 3–1 victory over Banfield.[4] Higuaín ended the 2005–06 season with five goals in 12 appearances.[5]

Following his brace in the Superclásico derby against Boca Juniors on 8 October 2006, River Plate manager Daniel Passarella declared that Higuaín had an "enormous future" and was "destined for superstardom."[6] In the following season, he scored 10 goals in 17 league matches.[5]

Real Madrid[edit]

2006–07 season[edit]

In December 2006, Spanish club Real Madrid signed Higuaín for €12 million from River Plate. His debut came on 11 January 2007 against Real Betis in the second round of the Copa del Rey in Seville. His first league game came 3 days later, on 14 January 2007, against Real Zaragoza at home. Higuaín was involved in the creation of numerous scoring chances and in the assistance for the only goal, which earned Madrid the victory. His first goal with Real came on 24 February when the team faced Atlético Madrid in the Madrid derby, the equaliser (1–1) at the Estadio Vicente Calderón. Later on the season, Higuaín showed an impressive performance by scoring a last-minute goal in a league match against Espanyol to earn his team a 4–3 win.[7] However, during his first season in the Bernabéu, Higuaín raised some doubts over his performance due to his lack of goals.

2007–08 season[edit]

During the 2007–08 season, Higuaín played inconsistently. However, he finished strongly at the end of the season. He first scored a last minute goal to earn his team a victory in a 2–1 comeback against Osasuna, which allowed Real Madrid to be mathematically crowned League Champions for the second consecutive year.[8] Four days later, he scored the 3rd goal of a 4–1 thrashing of Barcelona in El Clásico. The goal was scored just 57 seconds after he came off the bench.[9]

2008–09 season[edit]

In the 2008–09 season Higuaín was offered the chance to be a starter due to the serious injury suffered by the Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.[10] On 21 April 2009, he played very well in the match against Getafe and scored the decisive goal in the last minute, giving Real Madrid a 3–2 victory which enabled the team to follow the trail of Josep Guardiola's Barcelona.[11] In August 2008, Higuaín scored the winner in Madrid's victory over Valencia in the Spanish Supercup.[12] Shortly afterwards, he scored all four goals in a 4–3 win against Málaga. Because of this, he started to gain international recognition, and was one of the leading goalscorers of the Spanish League, alongside his Barcelona counterpart, Samuel Eto'o.[13] That season, the striker was devoted as one of the great promises of world football in the wake of spectacular games, and particularly dazzling last-minute goals. Higuaín ended the season with 22 league goals,[14] 24 in all competitions, shining alongside longtime football stars like Diego Forlán, David Villa and Thierry Henry....

2009–10 season[edit]

The 2009–10 season saw Higuaín become Real's top goalscorer with 27 league goals, 29 in total, being at the same time the La Liga's 2nd top goalscorer, behind only Lionel Messi but surpassing Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimović and even his teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. This season included him scoring his first two goals in the Champions league and his 2nd hat-trick for the club. He also played at the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa for Argentina. He scored the only hat-trick of the tournament against South Korea in a 4–1 victory, in Argentina's second group match[15]

2010–11 season[edit]

Gonzalo Higuaín and Luca Antonini during a match in the Champions League group stage against Milan.

In June 2010, extended Higuaín's contract until 2016.[16] On 23 October 2010, he scored Real Madrid's 5200th league goal, against Racing Santander in a 6–1 thrashing by Los Blancos. On 4 November of the same year, Higuaín entered the history of Real Madrid by being the scorer of the club's 700th goal in the Champions League.[17]

On the first weeks of December 2010, Higuaín was diagnosed with a herniated lumbar disc, and was suggested by Real's medical staff to have it operated.[18] On 5 January 2011, Real Madrid announced he would finally undergo surgery at the Department of Neurological Surgery of Chicago's Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine under the command of Dr. Richard G. Fessler, M.D.[19] The surgery took place on 11 January, and Higuaín was discharged from the hospital the next day following a successful operation.[20] He was expected to spend at least four months away from the field in the recovery process. Two months spent to recover from the surgery and another two to train with the team, however he was able to make an early comeback. On 23 April 2011, Higuaín scored a hat-trick against Valencia in a 3–6 away win in Estadio Mestalla, giving him 8 goals in 8 matches against Valencia. Higuaín also assisted two other goals for Karim Benzema and Kaká in that same match.

2011–12 season[edit]

Higuaín in a Champions League game against CSKA Moscow in February 2012

Gonzalo Higuaín opened his tally for the new league season with a goal against Getafe on 10 September.[21] On 24 September 2011 he scored his second goal of the season in a game against Rayo Vallecano which ended in a 6–2 win. On 2 October 2011 he scored his first hat-trick of the season against Espanyol in a 4–0 away win. On 15 October 2011 he scored yet another hat-trick in a 4–1 win against Real Betis. That meant "El Pipita" had scored 9 official goals in less than two weeks time. On 29 October Higuaín scored the only goal of the game in a 1–0 win against Real Sociedad in San Sebastián. On 6 November he scored once in Real Madrid's 7–1 thrashing of Osasuna at the Santiago Bernabéu. On 22 November 2011, Higuaín scored Real's third goal in a 6–2 defeat of Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League.

Higuaín scored to put Madrid up 3–1 in a 4–1 win against local rivals Atlético in the Madrid derby on 26 November 2011. He added another goal in the last game of the Champions League group stage, a 3–0 defeat of AFC Ajax.[22] On 31 March 2012, he scored his 100th Real Madrid goal against CA Osasuna, and added a second goal to make it Real's 100th goal for the 2011–12 La Liga season. In league winning season, he scored 22 goals, above his team mate Karim Benzema and proved to be vital player for his team.[23]

2012–13 season[edit]

Higuaín attempting to dribble past Emir Spahić of Sevilla in February 2013

Higuaín opened his new season tally with one goal each in the first three matches against Valencia, Getafe and Granada. On 29 August 2012, he scored the opener in an eventual 2–1 win against Barcelona in the second leg of the Supercopa de España, which secured Real Madrid its first title of the season. Higuaín helped Real secure their first La Liga victory with a defeat of Granada, registering the club's third goal in a 3–0 win on 2 September.[24]

In Real's away match to Mallorca on 28 October 2012, Higuaín scored twice and provided two assists in a 5–0 victory.[25] On 23 February 2013, Higuaín scored his 100th La Liga goal as he scored an 88th minute winner to secure a 2–1 defeat of Deportivo La Coruña.[26]

Napoli[edit]

Due to Higuaín's availability, clubs like Arsenal and Napoli were keen to bring him to the respective clubs. Higuaín was in the centre to much transfer speculation, with many newspapers linking him to join Arsenal before Napoli's president Aurelio De Laurentiis said that Higuaín along with Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina had passed their medicals and that the Argentine had signed a five-year deal with the Italian club, with Higuaín joining for €40 million.[27] On 27 July, Napoli confirmed the signing of Higuaín, with the Argentine being assigned the number 9 shirt.[28] On 10 August 2013, he played his first match as a starter in a pre-season friendly against Benfica, and scored his first goal for the club in a 2–1 win.

On 25 August, Higuaín made his Serie A debut in a 3–0 defeat of Bologna on the opening day of the 2013–14 season.[29] A week later, he opened his goalscoring account in a 4–2 win away at Chievo Verona.[30] He followed this up with goals in Napoli's next two fixtures: wins over Atalanta at home[31] and Milan at the San Siro.[32]

On 18 September, he scored in Napoli's opening Champions League fixture, a 2–1 victory over Borussia Dortmund at the Stadio San Paolo.[33] He went on to score in home wins over Olympique de Marseille[34] and Arsenal[35] but Napoli failed to qualify from the group stage despite winning four of their six matches.[35]

On 12 February 2014, Higuaín scored two goals in Napoli's 3–0 defeat of Roma in the semi-final of the Coppa Italia, taking the team to the final with a 5–3 aggregate victory.[36] On 13 April, he scored his first hat-trick for the club in a 4–2 win over Lazio.[37]

International career[edit]

During the game between Argentina and South Korea at FIFA World Cup 2010, 17 June 2010, Soccer City, Johannesburg. Higuaín celebrates his hat-trick with teammates.

Higuaín is one of only three foreign-born players to have played for Argentina in a FIFA World Cup, along with Pedro Arico Suárez[38] and Constantino Urbieta Sosa.[39] He initially rejected calls from both the Argentine and French national teams,[40][41] claiming at the time he was undecided for which country he would prefer to play, before choosing Argentina.[42] Higuaín was called up by the Argentina Olympic squad for a friendly match against Guatemala in February 2008,[43] and scored two goals in his debut as Argentina won 5–0, though the match was not officially recognized by FIFA as an "A" international match.

2010 FIFA World Cup[edit]

Higuaín was selected for Argentina by coach Diego Maradona for the last 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification games against Peru and Uruguay. He scored his first goal on his full debut, a 49th minute strike during a 2–1 win over Peru on 10 October 2009. He netted his second goal for Argentina in the 1–0 win over Germany at the Allianz Arena in Munich on 3 March 2010, right on the stroke of half-time, pouncing on a mistake made by German goalkeeper René Adler, in which Higuaín tapped into an open net from about 25 yards out.[44] Following Argentina's qualification, Higuaín was included in the squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He scored a hat-trick in Argentina's 4–1 win over South Korea in their second group match,[45] becoming the third Argentinian to score a hat-trick in the World Cup finals, after Guillermo Stábile in 1930 and Gabriel Batistuta in 1994 and 1998,[46] and the first player to score a hat-trick in the tournament since 2002. His goal in the 3–1 win over Mexico in the second round took him to a total of four, and he remained one of the top scorers for Argentina in the competition.

2014 World Cup cycle[edit]

Shortly after Argentina's disappointing World Cup campaign, on 7 September 2010, Higuaín scored in a friendly match against newly crowned world champions Spain making it 2–0, in a game that ended 4–1.

Higuaín scored an equalizer against Uruguay in the 2011 Copa América quarter-finals, and scored in the penalty shoot-out after his shot had hit both posts. Argentina lost the shoot-out 4–5.

On 6 September 2011, Higuaín scored the first goal for Argentina as they beat Nigeria 3–1 in the city of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and had a role in the third goal. On 8 October 2011, Higuaín scored a hat-trick and assisted one goal in a 4–1 win against Chile. On 2 June 2012, Higuaín scored the second goal in their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match and assisted one goal in Argentina's 4–0 victory over Ecuador.

Higuaín assisted the first goal for Lionel Messi in a friendly against Brazil on 9 June 2012, with Argentina eventually winning 4–3. Higuaín then assisted a second goal for Messi 6 days later, with a 3–1 win against Germany.

On 7 September 2012, Higuaín scored the second goal in their 2014 FIFA World Cup South American qualifier match and assisted one goal in Argentina's 3–1 victory over Paraguay. Then on 11 September, Higuaín scored the equalizer for the Argentine team against Peru, on a match that ended 1–1 in Lima.

On 22 March 2013, Higuaín scored twice as Argentina beat Venezuela 3–0[47] to make him top scorer in the South American section of World Cup qualifying with 9 goals. He ended as the joint third-top scorer in CONMEBOL, alongside Radamel Falcao and behind Messi and Luis Suárez.[48]

Higuaín was named in Argentina's 23-man squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[49] After appearing as a half time substitute debut in Argentina's 2–1 defeat of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Estádio do Maracanã, Higuaín exchanged passes with Messi to assist his captain for the winning goal.[50] He was named in the starting line-up for the team's second match against Iran in Belo Horizonte.[51] On 5 July, Higuaín scored the only goal of the match in the 1–0 quarter-final victory over Belgium.[52] In the final against Germany, Higuaín missed a clear chance (after a bad head back-pass from Toni Kroos) on a one on one with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Higuaín eventually scored a goal, but it was disallowed, since he was caught in an offside position.[53] Germany eventually won the match by 1–0, sealing their fourth title.[54]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of 31 August 2014[55]
Club Season League Cup Continental Other1 Total
Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists
River Plate 2004–05 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0
2005–06 14 6 5 0 0 0 4 2 0 18 8 5
2006–07 17 9 11 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 19 9 11
Total 35 15 16 0 0 0 6 2 0 0 0 0 41 17 16
Real Madrid 2006–07 19 2 3 2 0 0 2 0 1 23 2 4
2007–08 25 8 3 4 1 1 5 0 0 34 9 4
2008–09 34 22 12 2 1 0 7 0 0 1 1 0 44 24 12
2009–10 32 27 7 1 0 0 7 2 1 40 29 8
2010–11 17 10 6 2 1 0 6 3 0 25 14 6
2011–12 35 22 9 5 1 2 12 3 2 2 0 0 54 26 13
2012–13 28 16 5 5 0 2 9 1 2 2 1 0 44 18 9
Total 190 107 45 21 4 5 48 8 6 5 2 0 264 122 56
Napoli 2013–14 32 17 7 5 2 0 9 5 4 46 24 11
2014–15 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 3 1 0
Total 33 17 7 5 2 0 11 6 4 0 0 0 49 25 11
Career Total 258 137 68 26 6 5 65 16 10 5 2 0 354 161 83

1 Includes Supercopa de España.

International[edit]