Lisandro López, the different

Sunday, March 31, 2019. 93rd minute, free kick for Tigre. There are seconds left to realize the dream of a lifetime and he knows it. Standing on one side of the barrier, the 36-year-old man breaks like a boy and Nery Domínguez hugs him to comfort him. With the final whistle and the consecration consummated, he ran to the locker room to celebrate in privacy.

Sunday, April 7, 2019. 15th minute of Racing-Defense and Justice. The giant screen of the Cilindro de Avellaneda shows the logo with the number that identifies him and his face, while the huge flag in his honor begins to unfurl. With a serious face, without wanting to lose track of the ball, the captain applauds with his hands raised as a sign of gratitude and greets the people who sing “hand in hand, by Licha López, we are all going to turn around…”. The tribute to Lisandro Lopez, a different.

Surely, the scorer and emblem of Racing champion of the Superliga 2018/19 does not like at all to be branded as “different”. In fact, his companions treat him as a “green dog” and the “Old Man”, as they nickname him in the dressing room, they carry him by his beret and espadrilles. Lisandro is very jealous of his privacy and does not even think of having social networks. “Why do you want to share what you do with the whole world?”, He usually says.

He gave away the t-shirts that he traded in his early years and then never collected them: “Why am I going to have them in a box if my friends wanted to use them?

He likes dramatic movies and reading. Your favorite books? Marianela by Benito Pérez Galdós, La truce by Mario Benedetti and Veronika decides to die by Paulo Coelho. He also prefers the quiet music of Jairo, Dyango and Miguel Poveda, among others. Noise is clearly not his thing.

He was born on March 2, 1983 in Rafael Obligado, a town of 800 inhabitants where they have always called it Lichi. His mother María Emilia was a teacher, as was his sister. His father Miguel worked in the field and was also a center forward in his days as an amateur player. He usually meets again with his people and fishes, in shorts, muscular and flip flops.

He wants to be treated as one of the others. He considers himself an ordinary player who gives himself to the maximum and in each interview he clarifies that he is an ordinary person who works in football. It is quite homey, he rarely eats out and fights with the owner of the restaurant if he does not want to charge him. He does not feel like an example of anyone.

Licha started at the 9-year-old Jorge Newbery club in the town of Rojas, but he dedicated more time of the week to the cane than to the ball. He tried himself several times in First Division teams (Rosario Central, Newell’s, All Boys, Boca, San Lorenzo, Vélez and Lanús), but he always returned to his hometown. He did not enjoy that demanding 20 minute exam with 10 classmates he did not know. He got to enroll in the career of economics, until Miguel Micó discovered it while working in Lanús and then took him to Racing.

In January 2001At the age of almost 18, Lisandro arrived at the institution that had just been managed due to its bankruptcy. He lived in a room in the La Paternal pension with 6 or 7 companions. Then they transferred him to a hotel in Boedo. And in his debut in the 5th division he scored a triplet in 3-3 against Argentinos Juniors, on the Atlanta court.

More than once he felt bad when he had to go to train with the First. They did not speak to him, they beat him with malicious intent or ignored him. And today, being a benchmark of the campus, he seeks the opposite treatment with the boys. After two fractures in the fifth metatarsal of the right foot, the June 14, 2003 He made his debut in the top flight, at 2-2 against Vélez. The October 10th, entered against Lanús and scored his first goal with the blue and white. He had the pleasure of scoring Independiente in 3-1 in 2004 and 2005. He was a scorer for the Opening 2004 (12 shouts) and he went to Porto in 2005 with Racing fighting for the title. In his first cycle at La Academia he scored 26 goals in 71 games.

It had its debut in the Argentine National Team against Mexico and the August 17, 2005 He was replaced by a certain Lionel Messi in the 18th minute of the second half in the friendly against Hungary in Budapest, in Leo’s very brief debut due to his quick expulsion.

Lyon bought him for 24 million euros and after three years and more than 80 goals, he wanted to leave the club when the coach decided to place him as a left midfielder. He preferred to return the captain’s tape and wait on the substitute bench before playing in that position. He was denied the chance to go to Juventus and Tottenham. To make matters worse, the same manager of the Spurs (André Villas-Boas) had previously wanted to take him to Chelsea, but they never told him.

Tired of European football, he went to Al-Gharafa in Qatar mid 2013. After six months, he wanted to go, but he stayed there for a year and a half. He ended up at Inter de Porto Alegre in February 2015 and nine months later he returned to his beloved Racing Club.

On the 15th he celebrates by bringing his right index finger to his temple, after a friend remarked on the importance of thinking about hands-in-hand.

He regrets not having taken better care of meals and physical appearance. It was always little sleep. He feels that he was unable to fully enjoy his career because of the way he lives football.

After training you can take a nap, have a few mates at home, rest, have dinner and occasionally meet friends. He puts a lot of will into the kitchen because “a good attitude beats technique”. The same attitude that he shows to go down to defend as if he were just another side.

His self-demand leads him to constantly try to improve himself. He was never the fastest, the best hitter, or the best header. But he wants to learn permanently and mobilizes him “a giant sporting ambition”, In his own words. An example of humility and love for football. Is defined as “passionate even to sweep the floor or to wipe the table”.

Two months after starting his second stage with La Academia in 2016, He put a historic Chilean against Independiente for the agonizing tie in the Libertadores de América. After the painful elimination against River in the 2018 Libertadores, he assumed his role as leader in the press conference and questioned his continuity. His great level in the Super League convinced him to renew with the dream of being a champion. “I’m not letting him go anywhere. If he leaves, it is because he was scared, which I do not think”, His coach Chacho Coudet added.

And boy, was he not scared. He was the top gunner of the Super League 2018/19 (17 shouts), he shone again in a Avellaneda classic with a goal and an assist after a phenomenal run at the end of the game. Six months later he raised the Champions Trophy 2018/19, his second degree at the institution. He transmitted the sense of belonging, he infected the affection for the colors.

He admits that he is afraid before going on the field, because the brave is the one who is afraid and keeps going. Fear of not being in control on the field. And off the court, fear of loneliness. Fear of not having people to share what they like. Fear of not having someone to trust. Rare in a footballer who managed to get the entire Racing World to stand behind him.

Lisandro, the passionate, rescues the affection of the public more than the titles. He has already warned that he will not continue to be linked to football, neither as a coach nor as a leader. You would love to be unknown again when you leave the activity. And of course, enjoy more time with his daughter Guadalupe and his partner Mechi Blanco, daughter of the president of Racing.

The January 19, 2021 He put an end to his second spell at La Academia, in which he scored 49 goals in 142 games: “For me it is not a sad day. I am leaving with peace of mind and happiness because I always left everything and because I was able to return here to fulfill my dream and I was able to achieve it. This club has given me everything“, assured the idol, who adduced a”physical and mental exhaustion“.

His next destination was Atlanta United of the MLS, where he only played 4 games. The death of his father Miguel precipitated his return. In July he was presented again at his home: “I needed to be close to my mom. That is why I decided to return. At no time did it cross my mind to stop playing, I am grateful to the club for letting me return. I really want to continue competing and being close to my family is easier“.

His third stage lasted just three months. Even before the farewell against Godoy Cruz, Lisandro was 18 games and scored 4 goals. At the end of November, he confirmed that it was time to say goodbye to the delicate state of health of his mother, who is in Junín.

At that 2019 champion party, Licha took the microphone and the first message was directed precisely to María Emilia: “Mommy, don’t cry a lot. Quiet…”.

A different gesture of an extraordinarily common type.