Roque Santa Cruz

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This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is Santa Cruz and the second or maternal family name is Cantero.
Roque Santa Cruz
Roque Luis Santa Cruz.jpg
Santa Cruz in 2011
Personal information
Full name Roque Luis Santa Cruz Cantero
Date of birth (1981-08-16) 16 August 1981 (age 32)
Place of birth Asunción, Paraguay
Height 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)[1]
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current team
Málaga
Number 9
Youth career
1990–1997 Olimpia
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1997–1999 Olimpia 24 (13)
1999–2007 Bayern Munich 155 (31)
2005–2006 Bayern Munich II 6 (2)
2007–2009 Blackburn Rovers 57 (23)
2009–2013 Manchester City 20 (3)
2011 Blackburn Rovers (loan) 9 (0)
2011–2012 Betis (loan) 33 (7)
2012–2013 Málaga (loan) 31 (8)
2013– Málaga 31 (6)
National team
1999 Paraguay U-20 13 (6)
1999– Paraguay 99 (29)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 17 May 2014.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 30 May 2014

Roque Luis Santa Cruz Cantero (locally: [ˈroke ˈlwis santa ˈkɾus kanˈteɾo]; born 16 August 1981) is a Paraguayan footballer who plays for Spanish club Málaga CF in La Liga as a striker and is captain of the Paraguayan national team.

Santa Cruz started his career with Club Olimpia, progressing through their youth system to the first-team squad where he made his debut at the age of 15 in 1997.[2] He finished his career with the club having scored 13 goals in 24 Primera División appearances where Olimpia claimed the 1998 and 1999 Primera División titles. Santa Cruz scored three goals in four appearances for Paraguay at the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship before debuting for the Paraguayan national team at the 1999 Copa América, where he scored three goals in four appearances. He immediately joined Bundesliga club Bayern Munich in August 1999 for a fee of €5million where he scored five goals in 19 league appearances in his first season. He faced a series of injuries and heavy competition from team mates Giovane Élber, Roy Makaay and Claudio Pizarro which limited his impact and restricted his appearances for the club.

He was part of the successful team for Bayern, winning numerous Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and DFB-Ligapokal titles. He also won the 2000–01 UEFA Champions League and the 2001 Intercontinental Cup. He left Bayern Munich in July 2007 to join Blackburn Rovers for a transfer fee of €5million where he scored 19 goals in the 2007–08 Premier League season. In June 2009, he joined Manchester City for a fee of £17.5 million on a four-year deal. Since his transfer, he was loaned out to Blackburn Rovers and Real Betis. Holder of a Spanish passport, Santa Cruz is eligible for unrestricted selection in all European Union-based sides.[3]

Santa Cruz is currently the all-time leading goal scorer, with 29 goals, of the Paraguayan national team's history. He represented the national team at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup tournaments, he also participated at the 1999 Copa América, 2007 Copa América and the 2011 Copa América, where Paraguay finished runners-up.

Club career[edit]

Olimpia[edit]

1990–1999[edit]

Santa Cruz joined Olimpia's youth academy at the age of nine,[2] where he became the top scorer during several seasons. Olimpia's first-team coach, Luis Cubilla, invited him to train with the team aged 15.[4] He made his first appearance in the Primera División in 1997 at the age of 15.[2][4][5] During the group stages of the 1998 Copa Mercosur, Santa Cruz scored his first goal of the competition in the 11th minute of Olimpia's 4–2 away victory against Racing Club de Avellaneda on 14 October 1998.[6] Olimpia finished in second position of their group with 10 points and advanced to the quarter-finals. During the first-leg quarter-final match against Vélez Sársfield, Santa Cruz scored in Olimpia's 4–3 win on 27 October 1998. One week later, he scored a brace for Olimpia as they claimed a 2–1 victory in the second-leg on 4 November 1998. All three goals were scored against his international teammate Jose Chilavert.[7] He scored 3 goals in 9 league appearances in 1998 season as Olimpia were crowned champions of the Primera División. Olimpia had also reached the knock-out stages of the 1998 Copa Libertadores where they were eliminated by Colón de Santa Fe. Santa Cruz had scored 10 goals in 14 games in the 1999 season as Olimpia again claimed the Primera División. He played his last superclasico against Cerro Porteño, a 1–0 home victory, in the 1999 Apertura on 30 May,[8] and played in his last competitive match for Olimpia, a 1–0 win against Club Atlético Colegiales, on 6 June.[8] The striker was awarded with the Paraguayan Footballer of the Year award in 1999.[9] Olimpia's president Osvaldo Domínguez Dibb, had assessed Santa Cruz to value from around US$20 million due to his involvement in Paraguay's national teams but was eventually sold to Germany's Bayern Munich for US$7 million. He later revealed that he had the chance to join Real Madrid before he eventually signed with Bayern Munich in 1999.[10] Santa Cruz confessed that his teammates and himself had been mis-treated by Osvaldo Domínguez Dibb after bad performances from the first-team where the players' salaries were not deposited into their bank accounts in order for the players to personally collect it in person from the president and would be threatened by guns and knives. "I remember that we once lost an important regional derby. The president entered the sleeping room where we all spent the night ahead of games and unloaded his gun in the ceiling. That wasn't all though. When a player had put in a bad performance, he just strolled up to their car and urinated inside it while they were standing right next to him. The president always wanted us to come up to him to pick up our monthly wages. If you hadn't played well that month, he stood up and asked 'What is it you want?' while tapping a machine gun on his desk. That always prompted players to wait for their money until they had put in some better performances again."[11][12][13]

Bayern Munich[edit]

1999–00 season[edit]

Santa Cruz with Bayern Munich.

Santa Cruz debuted for Bayern Munich in the 1999–00 Bundesliga season in a 2–0 loss against Bayer Leverkusen on 22 August 1999.[14] Six days later he scored his first league goal in the 40th minute of a 1–0 win against SpVgg Unterhaching on 28 August.[15] He made his first appearance in the 1999–2000 UEFA Champions League on 15 September in a 2–1 victory over PSV Eindhoven.[16] His first goal in the Champions League came on his fifth appearance in the competition as Bayern Munich lost 2–1 against PSV Eindhoven, as was substituted onto the field on 26 minutes for Paulo Sérgio and scored with a right-footed shot on 51 minutes.[16] He ended the season with five goals in 28 league appearances as Bayern Munich were crowned champions of the 1999–00 Bundesliga season, he had also made consecutive Champions League appearances until the semi-final stages where Bayern Munich were knocked out by Real Madrid. On 6 May 2000, he was substituted onto the field on 73 minutes for Carsten Jancker during the 1999–2000 DFB-Pokal final as Bayern Munich beat SV Werder Bremen 3–0.[17]

2000–01 season[edit]

Prior to the start of the 2000–01 Bundesliga season, he scored in a semi-final 4–1 win against 1. FC Kaiserslautern in the 2000 DFB-Ligapokal on 30 July.[18] During the final, he was substituted off the field for Carsten Jancker after just 46 minutes as Bayern Munich defeated Hertha BSC 5–1 on 1 August.[19] Santa Cruz scored his first goal of the season, eight minutes after being substituted on for Alexander Zickler on the 11th minute, in a 3–0 away win to VfL Bochum on 19 August.[20] On 19 September, in his first appearance of the 2000–01 UEFA Champions League, he was substituted onto the field after 46 minutes and then substituted off the field after 73 minutes.[21] Four days later, he scored the winning goal in a 2–1 away victory to 1. FC Köln on 23 September.[22] After suffering from an injury, he returned to action on 17 December to score the first goal of the game after 15 minutes in a 3–1 away win to Hertha BSC, he played 89 minutes of the match before being substituted off.[23] He then missed the following nine games, where on his return he scored Bayern Munich's first goal after six minutes of the game in a 1–1 draw to Borussia Dortmund on 7 April.[24] He missed a large amount of the Champions League, he made his return where he was brought onto the field for Giovane Élber on 65 minutes in the second-leg quarter-final 2–1 win against Manchester United on 18 April.[25] Due to injuries he was reduced to only 19 league appearances for the season, having scored five goals, as Bayern Munich claimed both the Bundesliga and the UEFA Champions League titles, where he was an un-used substitute during the final on 23 May.[26]

2001–02 season[edit]

Having already been overlooked by Bayern for striker Giovane Élber, the signing of striker Claudio Pizarro for the 2001–02 Bundesliga season would also limit his appearances as Santa Cruz would regularly be substituted on to replace Pizarro or Élber. On 8 September, he scored his first goal of the 2001–02 season in round five, the second goal in a 2–0 away win to Borussia Dortmund. He played 79 minutes of the game before being substituted.[27] On 23 October, he scored a brace in a 3–1 home win against Feyenoord during a 2001–02 UEFA Champions League group stage fixture as Bayern finished on top of Group H.[28] He would be in the starting-eleven for the following two matches, where the second game saw him replaced after 42 minutes of the first half due to an injury. On 27 November Bayern Munich defeated Boca Juniors 1–0 in the 2001 Intercontinental Cup, he however was not included in the squad. He returned to the first-team in a 5–1 away loss against Schalke 04 on 26 January, where he played a full 90 minutes.[29] During the second group stage phase of the Champions League, he headed in a goal in the 81st minute from a Bixente Lizarazu cross in a 1–0 win against Boavista on 26 February.[30] Bayern Munich were knocked out in the quarter-finals to Real Madrid as Santa Cruz made ten appearances in the competition.

2002–03 season[edit]

Santa Cruz made his first appearance of the 2002–03 season in round nine in a 1–0 away win against Hansa Rostock, where he was substituted onto the field for Claudio Pizarro in the 76th minute.[31] The striker scored his first goal of the 2002–03 UEFA Champions League in a 2–1 loss against on 29 October, he was substituted onto the field for Hasan Salihamidžić in the 46th minute and scored in the 77th minute.[32] Bayern Munich, however, finished bottom of their group with just two points. His first goal of the 2002–03 season came in a 2–1 home win against Borussia Dortmund on 9 November.[33] One week later, he scored the only goal in a 1–0 win against VfL Wolfsburg on 16 November.[34] In the following match, he scored Bayern Munich's second goal in a 2–0 win against 1. FC Kaiserslautern on 23 November.[35] This was the first time that he had scored a goal in three consecutive games for Bayern Munich. Two weeks later, he scored a brace in a 3–0 away victory to VfB Stuttgart on 7 December.[36] Due to injury the Paraguayan was reduced to only 14 league appearances for the 2002–03 season as Bayern Munich finished on top of the 2002–03 Bundesliga table with 75 points. Bayern Munich defeated 1. FC Kaiserslautern 3–1 to claim the 2002–03 DFB-Pokal on 31 May, Santa Cruz was not included in the squad.

2003–04 season[edit]

Giovane Élber transferred to Lyon, but Bayern Munich signed Dutch striker Roy Makaay which provided more competition between Santa Cruz and Claudio Pizarro for the 2003–04 Bundesliga season. He made his first appearance of the 2003–04 in round five in a 3–2 loss to VfL Wolfsburg on 13 September 2003.[37] One week later, he scored his first goal of the season in a 3–3 draw against Bayer Leverkusen on 20 September 2003.[38] Santa Cruz scored his first goal of the 2003–04 UEFA Champions League in a 1–1 draw against Anderlecht on 30 September. Bayern Munich reached the knock-out stages where they were eliminated against Real Madrid. He had made 29 league appearances, having surpassed the amount of appearances he made during his first-season before facing injury. Bayern Munich eventually finished second of the Bundesliga table with 68 points, six points shy of Werder Bremen.

2004–05 season[edit]

Prior to the start of the 2004–05 season, Santa Cruz played a full 90-minute in Bayern Munich's 3–2 2004 DFB-Ligapokal final win against Werder Bremen on 2 August.[39] His first appearance of the 2004–05 season came in round 1 in a 2–0 away win against Hamburger SV, he was replaced by Mehmet Scholl in the 60th minute.[40] He featured in the following two matches, however due to injury he made his fourth and final league appearance for the 2004–05 season in round 34 in a 3–1 away win against VfB Stuttgart on 21 May 2005, he was substituted onto the field for Bastian Schweinsteiger in the 77th minute.[41] He did not participate in the 2004–05 UEFA Champions League, where Bayern Munich were eliminated by Chelsea during the quarter-final stages. Bayern Munich were crowned champions of the 2004–05 Bundesliga season with 77 points, and qualified for the 2005–06 UEFA Champions League. Bayern Munich claimed the 2004–05 DFB-Pokal in a 2–1 win against FC Schalke 04 on 28 May 2005, he did not take part in the match where during his absence he had been replaced by striker José Paolo Guerrero. Upon his return from injury, he played a full 90-minute of Bayern Munich's 2–1 2005 DFL-Ligapokal semi-final defeat against VfB Stuttgart on 26 July.[42]

2005–06 season[edit]

Santa Cruz started in Bayern Munich's 3–0 home win against Borussia Mönchengladbach on the open day of the 2005–06 season on 5 August.[43] He first appeared in the 2005-06 UEFA Champions League in a 1–0 home win against Club Brugge KV on 27 September, where he was substituted onto the field for Paolo Guerrero in the 72nd minute.[44] He would make just one more appearance in the competition, as Bayern Munich were eliminated by A.C. Milan at the round of 16. He scored his first goal of the season in round 8 in a 2–0 home win against VfL Wolfsburg on 1 October.[45] In the following match, he scored after 19 minutes in Bayern Munich's 1–1 away draw against Schalke 04 on 15 October.[46] In Bayern Munich's 4–0 win against MSV Duisburg one week later on 22 October, he scored his side's third goal in the 59th minute.[47] He encountered an injury which reduced him to just 13 Bundesliga appearances for the season. During this period of injury recovery, he spent some time with Bayern Munich II in the Regionalliga Süd. He returned to the first-team in round 29 in a 3–0 away loss to Werder Bremen on 8 April, where he was substituted onto the field for Claudio Pizarro in the 80th minute.[48] Bayern Munich claimed the 2005–06 DFB-Pokal when they defeated Eintracht Frankfurt 1–0 at the Olympic Stadium on 29 April, however Santa Cruz did not take part in the match. He scored his fourth and final goal of the 2005–06 season in a 3–1 home win against VfB Stuttgart on 3 May.[49] During the 2006 DFL-Ligapokal, he featured in Bayern Munich's 0–0 semi-final draw against FC Schalke 04 on 2 August, where he was substited onto the field in the 77th minute for Lukas Podolski. Bayern Munich eventually won the match 4–1 in a penalty shoot-out as he converted his side's third spot kick.[50] Three days later, he played a full 90 minutes of the final where Bayern Munich lost 2–0 against Werder Bremen on 5 August 2006.[51] Bayern Munich claimed the 2005–06 Bundesliga and qualified for the 2006–07 UEFA Champions League.

2006–07 season[edit]

Santa Cruz made his first appearance in the 2006–07 UEFA Champions League in a 4–0 home win against Spartak Moscow on 12 September, he scored Bayern Munich's second goal with a right-footed shot in the 52nd minute.[52] He scored his first goal of the 2006–07 season in a 3–0 away win against Energie Cottbus on 12 May.[53] he finished the 2006–07 Bundesliga season with two goals in 26 league appearances, as Bayern Munich finished in fourth position with 60 points. Bayern Munich had also been eliminated in the third round of the 2006–07 DFB-Pokal. After eight years with Bayern Munich, he stated to Bayern's director of football, Uli Hoeneß, that he needed a change of scenery and opted for a transfer to Real Betis, he also received offers to go to Italy and England. Bayern asked for an affordable price for him but at the time it was too high for Real Betis and he eventually signed for Blackburn Rovers in July 2007.[54][55][56][57]

Blackburn Rovers[edit]

2007–08 season[edit]

Santa Cruz during his first spell with Blackburn.

Santa Cruz agreed to a four-year deal with Blackburn Rovers on 28 July 2007. Blackburn agreed to pay Bayern Munich £3.5 million for the player, he was brought to the club by manager Mark Hughes, where he was presented with the number nine shirt.[58][59][60] The striker made his debut in the 2007-08 Premier League on the opening day of the season in a 2–1 away win against Middlesbrough on 11 August, he was substituted onto the field for the injured Benni McCarthy in the 60th minute and after just three touches of the ball he scored an equaliser in the 63rd minute.[61][62] Two weeks later, he scored for Blackburn after 16 minutes in a 1–1 draw against Everton on 25 August.[63] He celebrated his 26th birthday and his first full Rovers start when he scored in a 1–0 away first-leg win against MYPA in the 2007–08 UEFA Cup qualifying rounds on 16 August.[64] He scored his first hat-trick for Blackburn in a 5–3 loss to Wigan Athletic on 15 December, Blackburn had been losing 3–0 before he had brought the sides level with his three goals.[65][66] This hat-trick meant that he became the first player in over ten years in English football to score a hat-trick for the losing side, since Dwight Yorke's hat-trick on 30 September 1996 for Aston Villa in their 4–3 away loss to Newcastle United.[67] During the 2007–08 Football League Cup, he scored a brace in a 3–2 loss against Arsenal.[68] Two weeks later, he scored a brace in a 2–2 draw against Manchester City on 27 December.[69] On 12 January 2008, he was named Premier League "Player of the Month" for December 2007. The Paraguayan scored a 90th minute consulation goal for Blackburn in their 3–1 away loss to Liverpool on 13 April.[70] One week later, he scored in a 1–1 draw against Manchester United on 19 April.[71] In the following match, he went on to score in a 1–0 victory against Portsmouth and then two goals in a 3–1 win against Derby County which totalled to five goals in four consecutive matches.[72][73] Santa Cruz finished the season with 19 goals in 37 league appearances, finishing as the league's fourth top goal-scorer behind Cristiano Ronaldo (31 goals), Fernando Torres (24 goals) and Emmanuel Adebayor (24 goals), as Blackburn claimed seventh spot on the 2007–08 Premier League table with 58 points. He was also voted as Blackburn's player of the season.

2008–09 season[edit]

Following a successful 2007–08 campaign, there was much transfer speculation surrounding Santa Cruz at the start of the 2008–09 Premier League. However, he signed a four-year contract with Blackburn in August to end the speculation.[74] Prior to the start of the 2008–09 season, Blackburn signed Roque's younger brother, Julio, who had arrived from Paraguayan Primera División side Cerro Porteño. He scored his first goal of the 2008–09 season in round 1 in a 3–2 away victory against Everton on 16 August.[75] His second goal of the season came on 27 September in a 2–1 away win against Newcastle United.[76] During the fourth round of the 2008–09 Football League Cup, he scored in Blackburn's 2–1 win against Sunderland on 12 November, he was substituted onto the field for Andy Haworth in the 62nd minute and scored in the 65th minute.[77][78]

During an away fixture against Portsmouth in December, Santa Cruz' front door was forced open and his house was raided by three thugs who held his wife, Giselle, at knife point to her throat. Santa Cruz' children were forced into a downstairs room while the robbers searched the house upstairs with his wife as she was forced her to hand over thousands of pounds worth of jewellery.[79] Santa Cruz' house was less than a mile from Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant's mansion, which was attacked by ram-raiders the day before.[80][81]

On 6 December, he scored in Blackburn's 3–1 loss against Liverpool.[82] He became a target for Manchester City following their takeover by the billionaire Abu Dhabi United Group. In January 2009, they had bids of £12 million and £16 million rejected by Blackburn, with the club stating it would take £25 million for them to even consider selling their star striker. On 2 February 2009, City failed to meet the reported £25 million asking price. During the fifth round of the 2008–09 FA Cup, he scored within 90 seconds to give Blackburn the lead in their 2–2 draw against Coventry City on 14 February.[83][84] He scored his fourth and final goal of the 2008–09 season in a 2–1 away loss against Manchester United on 21 February.[85] On 20 April, there were rumours that he was planning to leave Rovers after the 2008–09 season, less than 12 months after signing a new deal with the Premier League club,[86] although he denied these rumours, saying that they were "lost in translation." Blackburn finished on the season in 15th position of the Premier League table with 41 points as Santa Cruz had scored just 4 goals in 20 league appearances.

Manchester City[edit]

2009–10 season[edit]

On 21 June 2009, it was reported that Santa Cruz was undergoing a medical at Manchester City ahead of a proposed summer transfer worth £17.5 million on a four-year deal.[87] Confirmation that the deal had been completed was released later that same day.[88] The move to Manchester City reunited Santa Cruz with his old manager Mark Hughes. He debuted for Manchester City in the 2009–10 Premier League season in a 3–1 home victory against West Ham United on 28 September, where he was substituted onto the field for Shaun Wright-Phillips in the 81st minute.[89] During a League Cup fixture, he scored his first goal for Manchester City in a 5–1 win against Scunthorpe United on 28 October.[90][91] He scored his first league goals for Manchester City, a brace in a 4–3 home victory against Sunderland on 19 December, a game which proved to be Mark Hughes's last game at the club.[92] However his appearances were limited when Roberto Mancini took over as manager, due to a succession of injuries coupled with a lack of form. He scored his third and final league goal for the 2009–10 season in a 2–1 away victory against Fulham on 21 March.[93] Santa Cruz had made only 19 league appearances as Manchester City finished the season in fifth position, where they qualified for the 2010–11 UEFA Europa League.

2010–11 season[edit]

Roberto Mancini continued to leave out Santa Cruz during the 2010–11 season, and he made it clear that he wanted to leave. Mark Hughes, who by then was manager of Fulham, had insisted on signing him but a transfer was not established.[94] From September 2010 to January 2011, he had made just one league appearance, which came in a 0–0 draw against Birmingham City on 13 November, where he had been substituted onto the field for James Milner in the 66th minute.[95] He had also made one League Cup appearance in a 2–1 away loss to West Bromwich Albion on 22 September.[96] In December, he received a loan offer from Serie A outfit S.S. Lazio for the remainder of the season, however it was rejected as he preferred a permanent move away from Eastlands.[97]

Loan to Blackburn[edit]

On 14 January 2011, he returned to Blackburn Rovers on loan for the remainder of the 2010–11 football season.[98] After Santa Cruz passed his medical, he said; "When Blackburn showed an interest in me, it was very easy to decide," to BBC Radio Lancashire.[99] His first game for Blackburn was in a 2–0 away loss against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on 15 January, where he was substituted onto the field in the 46th minute for Nikola Kalinić.[100] He made one appearance for Blackburn in a 3–1 2010–11 FA Cup loss against Aston Villa on 29 January.[101] He made nine appearances for Blackburn, as they finished in fifteenth position of the Premier League table.

2011–12 season[edit]

Loan to Real Betis[edit]

In August 2011, after being linked with moves to Leeds United, Sunderland and Celtic,[102][103] Santa Cruz was loaned to Real Betis for the 2011–12 La Liga season after completing a medical on 27 August.[104][105] He debuted for Real Betis in a 1–0 win against Mallorca on 10 September 2011, where he was substituted onto the field in the 75th minute for Jorge Molina.[106] He scored his first goals for Betis, a brace, in a 4–3 win against Real Zaragoza on 22 September.[107][108] He made his debut in the 2011–12 Copa del Rey in a 1–0 way loss against Córdoba on 13 December.[109] His third league goal came in a 2–0 away win against Atlético Madrid, where he had been substituted onto the field for Beñat Etxebarria in the 72nd minute and scored his side's second goal in the 90th minute on 18 December.[110] In December, Brazil's Série A outfit Cruzeiro had made a bid for Santa Cruz and had also offered Manchester City their highly rated 17-year-old youngster, Leo Bonatini, as part of the deal.[111][112] He admitted that he was aware of interest from Cruzeiro, but stated that the challenge of consolidating the his club's position in La Liga was more important than moving on to pastures new.[113] He scored his first goal of 2012 in a 2–0 home victory against Sporting Gijón on 8 January.[114] One week later, he was substituted onto the field for Iriney Santos da Silva in the 46th minute at the Nou Camp in a 4–2 loss against Barcelona on 15 January, where he scored in the 52nd minute with a right-footed shot to level the scores at 2–2.[115] Having not scored for over two-months, he scored his sixth league goal in a 1–1 home draw against Racing Santander on 25 March.[116] Several days later, it was reported that he had expressed his desire to remain at Real Betis for the next season, citing his love to the fans and the club.[117][118][119][120] On 7 April, he scored his seventh league goal in a 3–1 home win against Villarreal.[121] After notching seven league goals in 33 La Liga appearances, he announced his desire to stay with the Real Betis after being deemed surplus to requirements at the Etihad Stadium.[122]

Transfer speculation[edit]

On 17 June 2012, it was reported that Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes was keen on signing Santa Cruz for the 2012–13 season.[123] On 6 July 2012, it was reported that he was close to signing with Real Betis on a permanent deal but had hit problems due to his elevated wage demands.[124] On 13 July 2012, it was reported that Argentine Primera División club Newell's Old Boys had expressed their interest in signing him after the club employed former Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino as the first-team manager for the 2012–13 season. Martino stated that he would the club's number No. 9 if they were to sign him. It was also reported that Colón de Santa Fé and Primera División Paraguaya club Olimpia Asunción were also chasing him.[125] On 20 July, it had been reported that Santa Cruz was again linked with a move to QPR after he hinted that he could join up with ex-manager, Mark Hughes.[126][127][128][129] On 21 July, it was reported that he had admitted that he would prefer to join a team in the north-west of England as he sought an exit from Manchester City.[130][131] On 31 July 2012, it was reported that Middlesbrough had failed in bid to sign Santa Cruz when it was understood that their offered deal had been swiftly rejected.[132]

Santa Cruz had made surprise appearances for Manchester City during the club's pre-season tour and friendlies. On 31 July 2012, he scored in the 53rd minute of a 2–1 friendly loss against Oldham Athletic when he rounded goalkeeper Alex Cisak with ease and scored after a loose ball fell kindly.[133][134][135][136] On 5 August 2012, he played 73 minutes in the Manchester City's 4–0 friendly victory over Limerick.[137] On 10 August 2012, it was reported that Werder Bremen had been wheedled to within an inch of making a bid for him. It was also reported that he had had finally poised to agree deal with Werder Bremen in order to leave Manchester City, and that according to Werder Bremen's club general manager Klaus Allofs, they had been targeting a seasoned striker who can make a difference to their team.[138][139][140][141][142]

2012–13 season[edit]

Loan to Málaga[edit]

On 31 August 2012, Santa Cruz returned to Spain and Andalusia, this time signing for Málaga on a season-long loan.[143] He scored his first goal for Málaga on 7 October 2012, in a 2–1 away defeat against Atlético Madrid. On 31 October, he scored a brace in a 4–3 away win in the campaign's Copa del Rey match against CP Cacereño. He scored a brace as a substitute in the 3–2 defeat of Real Madrid on 22 December 2012.[144] On 13 March 2013, he scored the second goal against FC Porto in the Champions League to sent Malaga to the quarter finals.[145]

Málaga[edit]

Santa Cruz during his second year with Málaga CF.

2013–14 season[edit]

On 11 July 2013, it was confirmed that Santa Cruz would stay with Málaga on a permanent three-year contract.[146]

Santa Cruz scored his first goal of the 2013–14 La Liga season on 1 September 2013 in a 2–2 away draw against Sevilla Futbol Club.[147]

Santa Cruz opened the scoring for Málaga in the 13th minute of their 3–2 home victory against Real Betis on 3 November 2013.[148]

Santa Cruz concluded the season with six league goals as Málaga avoid relegation.

International career[edit]

In 1999, Santa Cruz represented Paraguay's U-20 team before receiving a call up to the Paraguay national football team when he made his debut aged 17 in a friendly match against Mexico on 28 April 1999.[149] Santa Cruz scored his first goal for Paraguay in a 3–2 loss against Uruguay on 17 June 1999. He had scored a total of ten goals at international level for Paraguay (including U-20) in 1999. Due to his performances and involvement in three major tournaments of that same year (1999 South American Youth Championship, 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship and the 1999 Copa América), Santa Cruz was awarded as the Paraguayan Footballer of the Year by Diario ABC Color and the Paraguayan Football Association. During the qualification campaign for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Santa Cruz had scored a total of three goals. His first goal came in round nine, when Santa Cruz had scored Paraguay's first goal in the third minute of a 2–0 away victory against Colombia on 7 October 2000.[150] His second goal came in a 5–1 home victory against Peru on 15 November 2000, and Santa Cruz scored his third goal of the 2002 World Cup qualification in a 5–1 home victory against Bolivia on 5 September 2001.[151][152] Prior to the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Santa Cruz scored his eighth international career goal in a 2–1 victory against Sweden in a friendly on 17 May 2002. Santa Cruz scored four goals during the qualification campaign for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. His first came in a 2–1 home victory against Ecuador on 15 November 2003, when Santa Cruz had given Paraguay a 1–0 lead in the 29th minute.[153] Santa Cruz then scored Paraguay's only goal in their 4–1 away loss against Brazil on 5 June 2005.[154] Three days later, Santa Cruz scored his third goal of the qualification campaign in a 4–1 home victory against Bolivia in Asunción on 8 June 2005.[155] In round 16 of the qualification campaign, Santa Cruz scored in the 14th minute of the 1–0 home victory against Argentina in Asunción on 3 September 2005.[156] His four goals during the qualification campaign brought him to a tally of 13 international goals for Paraguay.

Santa Cruz did not score his next international goal until two years later, Paraguay's only goal in their 2–1 away victory against Mexico at the Estadio Universitario in Monterrey on 25 March 2007. During the qualification campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Santa Cruz had scored three goals for Paraguay. His first goal came in the 50th minute of a 5–1 home victory against Ecuador on 17 November 2007, Santa Cruz had dribbled into the 18-yard box and scored with a right-footed shot.[157] On 15 June 2008, Santa Cruz scored Paraguay's first goal in their 2–0 home victory against Brazil in Asunción. Santa Cruz had with a far-post tap-in, side footing the ball into the net after receiving it from a corner. Then, in the 49th minute, he received a through ball from Nelson Haedo Valdez and dribbled towards the goal to attempt a shot on goal. His shot was initially saved by Brazil's goal keeper Julio Cesar, but fell into the path of Salvador Cabañas who would score Paraguay's second goal.[158] He scored his 24th international goal for Paraguay with a header in a 2–0 home victory in Asunción against Romania on 11 June 2011, the match was preparation for the 2011 Copa América.[159] On 7 June 2013, Santa Cruz scored in a 2–1 home defeat against Chile during a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualificatier. The goal brought his tally to 26 which made him the all-time leading goal scorer of the Paraguayan national team's history.[160] Santa Cruz went on to score two more goals (against Bolivia and Argentina) during the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, and also served as the national team captain for the last four fixtures of the campaign.[161][162][163][164]

1999 South American Youth Championship[edit]

Santa Cruz was named in the 20-man squad for Paraguay's 1999 South American Youth Championship in Argentina in January. Santa Cruz scored in Paraguay's first match against Bolivia, levelling the scores at 1–1 in the 69th minute as Paraguay went on to win 2–1 on 8 January. In Paraguay's second game against Brazil, Santa Cruz scored in the first minute of the match which ultimately ended in a 1–1 draw on 10 January. Paraguay finished in first place of their respective group with 10 points, qualifying for the second round of the tournament. In Paraguay's third match of the second ground, Santa Cruz scored in the 66th minute of Paraguay's 3–2 victory against Chile on 21 January. Paraguay finished in fourth place of the second round group stage with 8 points and subsequently qualified for the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship.

1999 FIFA World Youth Championship[edit]

Santa Cruz was selected by coach Mario Jacquet for the 18-man Paraguay U-20 squad for the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship in April. Santa Cruz was handed the number 9 shirt. He played a full-90 minutes in Paraguay's group stage opener, a 4–0 loss against Germany on 4 April.[165] In Paraguay's second group stage match, Santa Cruz scored in the 26th minute of Paraguay's 3–1 victory against Costa Rica on 7 April. He was substituted off of the field in the 75th minute for Sergio Fernández.[166] Santa Cruz then played 80 minutes of Paraguay's last group stage match, a 2–1 victory against Nigeria on 10 April.[167] Paraguay had obtained six points out of three games, they finished in first place of their respective group and advanced to the round of 16 knockout stages.[168] Paraguay were drawn against Uruguay, where they were losing 2–0 before Santa Cruz scored a 62nd minute penalty goal. He then scored for Paraguay in the 86th minute to level the scores at 2–2. The match was then decided via penalty shoot-out, where Santa Cruz had scored Paraguay's first penalty. After ten penalty shots had been taken, Santa Cruz took his second penalty shot which was missed. Uruguay subsequently won the penalty shoot-out 10–9.[169]

1999 Copa América[edit]

Santa Cruz performances in Paraguay's national youth teams led to a call-up to by national team coach Ever Hugo Almeida for the 1999 Copa América held in Paraguay.[170] In Paraguay's second group stage match, Santa Cruz scored a double against tournament invitees Japan on 2 July. Santa Cruz had scored a goal in each half, one goal in the 40th minute of the first half and the other goal in the 86th minute of the second half. Three days later, Santa Cruz scored the only goal for Paraguay in their 1–0 win against Peru on 5 July. Santa Cruz had scored in the 88th minute of the match. Paraguay had finished in first place of their respective group, with 7 points, and advanced to the quarter-final stages of the tournament. Paraguay would face Uruguay on 10 July at the Defensores del Chaco in Asunción, where Uruguay won 5–3 via penalty shoot-out having drawn 1–1 in regulation time.

2002 FIFA World Cup[edit]

Santa Cruz was included in Cesare Maldini's 23-man squad for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan, where he was handed the number 9 shirt. Santa Cruz started in Paraguay's first group stage match against South Africa on 2 June. He scored in the 39th minute, giving Paraguay a 1–0 first half lead, when he latched onto the end of a free-kick by Francisco Arce and headed the ball into the left side of the net. Santa Cruz played a full-90 minutes of the 2–2 draw.[171] Santa Cruz again started in Paraguay's second group stage match against Spain on 7 June. He again played a full 90 minutes of the 3–1 loss and was yellow carded in the 80th minute.[172] On 12 June, Santa Cruz played a full 90 minutes of Paraguay's 3–1 victory against Slovenia.[173] Paraguay finished in second position of their respective with four points, advancing to the round of 16 where they faced Germany on 15 June. Santa Cruz had again started the match as part of the squad's first-eleven players, however, he was substituted off of the field for Jorge Campos in the 29th minute due to injury in the eventual 1–0 defeat.[174]

Incident between José Luís Chilavert and Roque Santa Cruz[edit]

On 10 June 2013, it was reported that José Luís Chilavert had stated that Roque Santa Cruz had pretended to be injured in order to miss the match against Germany at the round of 16 stage of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Chilavert claimed that this was because Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who at the time was vice president of Bayern Munich (which was the club were Santa Cruz had played from 1999 to 2007), had visited the hotel that Paraguay were staying at and had apparently told Santa Cruz not to play against Germany.[175][176]

Francisco Arce defended Santa Cruz, informing that "Chilavert comes out to say stupid things every now and then. Don't believe him. Roque is the most professional person that I have ever met in my time in the national team, he is a man that doesn't have a stain in any place".[177]

Roque Santa Cruz himself then stated to Paraguay's Telefuturo that Chilavert's comments were false because they were stated more than ten years after the incident.[177] Santa Cruz also stated that what had been said was painful because alongside Chilavert he had shared many experiences but the people had seen Santa Cruz play and were aware of his professionalism.[178]

2006 FIFA World Cup[edit]

Santa Cruz was in doubt for the 2006 FIFA World Cup as he had been recovering from a knee injury, however, he recovered in time for the start of the tournament and was eventually was selected in the 23-man squad by coach Aníbal Ruiz. Despite wearing the number# 24 during the World Cup qualification campaign, he was handed the number# 9 for the tournament. Santa Cruz was part of the starting eleven players in Paraguay's first match against England on 10 June. He was partnered upfront alongside Nelson Haedo Valdez in the eventual 1–0 loss.[179] Santa Cruz again started in Paraguay's 1–0 loss to Sweden on 15 June, where he was substituted off of the field for Dante López in the 63rd minute.[180] Santa Cruz played a full-90 minutes of Paraguay's third group stage match against Trinidad and Tobago on 20 June, he had assisted Nelson Cuevas with a pass in scoring Paraguay's second goal in the 86th minute of the 2–0 victory.[181] Paraguay finished in third position of their respective group, obtaining three points for their win against Trinidad and Tobago.

2007 Copa América[edit]

Santa Cruz was selected for the 2007 Copa América under new coach Gerardo Martino. In Paraguay's first group stage match against Colombia on 28 June, Santa Cruz scored a hat-trick in his side's 5–0 victory. His first goal was a left-footed shot in the 30th minute, his second goal was a right-footed shot in the 46th minute assisted from an Edgar Barreto pass, and his third goal was a header in the 80th minute assisted from a cross by Carlos Bonet.[citation needed] Santa Cruz played a full-90 minutes of Paraguay's 3–1 victory against the United States on 2 July.[citation needed] Santa Cruz was substituted onto the field for Jonathan Santana in the 81st minute of Paraguay's last group stage fixture, a 1–0 loss against Argentina on 5 July.[citation needed] Paraguay had finished in second place of their respective group, having obtained six points from their two wins. They advanced to the quarter final stages where they faced Mexico on 8 July, where Santa Cruz played a full-90 minutes of Paraguay's 6–0 loss.[citation needed]

2010 FIFA World Cup[edit]

Paraguay lost in the quarter-finals.

2011 Copa América[edit]

Santa Cruz was part of Paraguay's starting eleven players for the 2011 Copa América. On 3 July, he played in Paraguay's opening group stage fixture, a 0–0 draw against Ecuador. Santa Cruz played 83 minutes of the match before being substituted off of the field for Pablo Zeballos. In Paraguay's second group stage fixture on 9 July, Santa Cruz Paraguay's first goal in the 54th minute of their 2–2 draw against Brazil in Córdoba. Santa Cruz was awarded as the Man of the Match of the 2–2 draw. His goal brought him to a total of 25 goals for Paraguay, making him the joint all-time leading goal scorer of the Paraguayan national team's history (with José Saturnino Cardozo).[7][182] On 13 July, Santa Cruz then played just 39 minutes of Paraguay's last group stage match against Venezuela before being replaced by Nelson Haedo Valdez. The Match finished as a 3–3 draw and Paraguay finished in third place of their respective group, with three points, qualifying for the quarter finals stages. On 17 July, Santa Cruz would not take part in Paraguay's quarter final match against Brazil. Paraguay eventually beat Brazil 2–0 via penalty shoot-out and qualified for the semi-final. In Paraguay's semi-final victory against Venezuela on 20 July, Santa Cruz was substituted onto the field in the 73rd minute for Nelson Haedo Valdez, however, due to an injury he was substituted off of the field in the 80th minute for Osvaldo Martínez. Paraguay had beat Venezuela 5–3 via penalty shoot-out and qualified for the final where they faced Uruguay at the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti in Buenos Aires on 24 July. Santa Cruz did not take part in the final, where which Paraguay were beaten 3–0 and finished runners-up.

Style of play[edit]

Santa Cruz was described in his 2010 FIFA World Cup profile as having "long caused problems for opposing defences with his natural flair for goalscoring and surging runs into the penalty box."[183]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of 31 March 2014
Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total Ref.
Club League Season Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Paraguay League Paraguayan Cup South America Total
Olimpia Primera División 1997 1 0 1 0
1998 9 3 6 4 15 7 [184]
1999 14 10 14 10
Club Olimpia totals 24 13 30 17
Germany League DFB-Pokal DFB-Ligapokal Europe Total Ref.
Bayern Munich Bundesliga 1999–2000 28 5 5 3 0 0 15 1 48 9 [185]
2000–01 19 5 1 0 2 1 6 0 28 6 [186]
2001–02 22 5 3 1 1 0 11 3 37 9 [187]
2002–03 14 5 3 2 0 0 2 1 19 8 [188]
2003–04 29 5 4 4 0 0 8 0 41 9 [189]
2004–05 4 0 1 4 2 1 0 0 6 5 [190]
Bayern Munich II Regionalliga Süd 5 2 0 0 5 2
2005–06 1 0 1 0 [191]
Bayern Munich Bundesliga 13 4 3 0 1 0 2 0 19 4
2006–07 26 2 3 0 2 1 7 1 38 4 [192]
Bayern Munich totals 155 31 23 14 8 3 51 6 237 54
Bayern Munich II totals 6 2 0 0 6 2
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total Ref.
Blackburn Rovers Premier League 2007–08 37 19 0 0 0 0 3 1 40 20 [193][194]
2008–09 20 4 4 1 3 1 27 6 [193]
Blackburn Rovers totals 57 23 4 1 3 1 3 1 67 26
Manchester City Premier League 2009–10 19 3 2 0 1 1 22 4 [193]
2010–11 1 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 [193]
Manchester City totals 20 3 2 0 2 1 24 4
Blackburn Rovers Premier League 2010–11 9 0 1 0 0 0 10 0 [193]
Blackburn Rovers totals 9 0 1 0 0 0 10 0
Spain League Copa del Rey Europe Total Ref.
Real Betis La Liga 2011–12 33 7 2 0 35 7 [193]
Real Betis totals 33 7 2 0 35 7
Málaga La Liga 2012–13 30 8 4 3 10 1 44 12 [193]
2013–14 25 5 1 0 26 5 [193]
Malaga totals 55 13 5 3 10 1 70 17
Career totals 359 92 37 18 13 5 64 8 473 123

International[edit]

[5][195]

Paraguay national team
Year Apps Goals
1999 8 4
2000 9 2
2001 4 1
2002 7 2
2003 5 1
2004 4 0
2005 5 3
2006 3 0
2007 12 5
2008 7 2
2009 2 0
2010 13 3
2011 10 2
2012 2 0
2013 6 3
2014 2 1
Total 99 29

International goals[edit]

Score and Result list Paraguay's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 17 June 1999 Estadio Antonio Oddone Sarubbi, Ciudad del Este, Paraguay  Uruguay 1–3 2–3 Friendly
2. 2 July 1999 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Japan 2–0 4–0 1999 Copa América
3. 4–0
4. 5 July 1999 Monumental Río Parapití, Pedro Juan Caballero, Paraguay  Peru 1–0 1–0 1999 Copa América
5. 7 October 2000 Estadio El Campín, Bogotá, Colombia  Colombia 1–0 2–0 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
6. 15 November 2000 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Peru 1–0 5–1 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
7. 5 September 2001 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Bolivia 4–1 5–1 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
8. 17 May 2002 Råsunda Stadium, Stockholm, Sweden  Sweden 1–0 2–1 Friendly
9. 2 June 2002 Busan Asiad Main Stadium, Busan, South Korea  South Africa 1–0 2–2 2002 FIFA World Cup
10. 15 November 2003 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Ecuador 1–0 2–1 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification
11. 5 June 2005 Estádio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre, Brazil  Brazil 1–3 1–4 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification
12. 8 June 2005 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Bolivia 2–1 4–1 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification
13. 3 September 2005 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Argentina 1–0 1–0 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification
14. 25 March 2007 Estadio Universitario, Monterrey, Mexico  Mexico 1–2 1–2 Friendly
15. 28 June 2007 Estadio José Pachencho Romero, Maracaibo, Venezuela  Colombia 1–0 5–0 2007 Copa América
16. 2–0
17. 3–0
18. 17 November 2007 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Ecuador 3–0 5–1 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
19. 15 June 2008 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Brazil 1–0 2–0 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
20. 18 June 2008 Estadio Hernando Siles, La Paz, Bolivia  Bolivia 1–2 2–4 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
21. 15 May 2010 Centre sportif de Colovray Nyon, Nyon, Switzerland  North Korea 1–0 1–0 Friendly
22. 17 November 2010 Hong Kong Stadium, Victoria, Hong Kong  Hong Kong 1–0 7–0 Friendly
23. 3–0
24. 11 June 2011 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Romania 2–0 2–0 Friendly
25. 9 July 2011 Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes, Córdoba, Argentina  Brazil 1–1 2–2 2011 Copa América
26. 7 June 2013 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Chile 1–2 1–2 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
27. 6 September 2013 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Bolivia 2–0 4–0 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
28. 10 September 2013 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Argentina 2–4 2–5 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
29. 29 May 2014 Kufstein Arena, Kufstein, Austria  Cameroon 2–0 2–1 Friendly

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Club Olimpia
Bayern Munich

International[edit]

Paraguay

Individual[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Santa Cruz, who is a naturalised Spaniard,[196] married Giselle Tavarelli, the sister of his former national team and Olimpia teammate Ricardo, in 2003. They have a son named Tobias (born 17 December 2003), a daughter named Fiorella (born 11 November 2005), a son named Benjamin (born 2010)[197] and a daughter named Alaia (born in Spain in July 2014).[196] His father, Aproniano Santa Cruz, is also his agent,[198] and his mother is Celina.[199] Santa Cruz has a younger brother named Julio who plays for Club Nacional, a second brother named Diego who was also a professional football player, and another brother named Oscar who died in 2005.[199][200]

Santa Cruz is good friends with long-time Bayern Munich team-mate Owen Hargreaves, who taught him English, also lived nearby to each other in the city of Manchester whilst Santa Cruz was playing for Blackburn Rovers in 2007.[199]

In 2004, Santa Cruz was the subject of the song "Ich Roque" by the German band Sportfreunde Stiller.

In a 2006 FIFA World Cup edition of German magazine kicker magazine, he was voted the sexiest man to be taking part in the tournament.[201] He was also chosen by the German newspaper Die Welt as the sexiest footballer of the 2006 World Cup.[202] He has appeared on the cover of the German version of Pro Evolution Soccer 6.[203][204]

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External links[edit]