By John E. Rojas – @jrojasa75
Alejandro Romero Gamarra turned 23 just a few days back (January 11). Born in Ciudadela (a neighborhood at the west side of Gran Buenos Aires) in the vicinity of Fuerte Apache (where Carlos Tevez was born). Now, ‘Kaku’ is expected in New York/New Jersey thanks to his soccer talent.
The Romero Gamarra household is not a small count. Alejandro has 11 siblings, the older ones didn’t make it to be a professional footballers. The two youngest are footballers too (Franco ‘Tata’ at the Huracán Academy, another #10 – and the little one who is right now at River Plate Academy). Lourdes his sister, plays the game too.
When ‘Kaku’ was about 10 years old, he tried to make it into the River Plate’s Academy but the competition didn’t allow him to have a significant amount of game time, same thing happened with Velez Sarsfield. At the time, Romero was playing for a local club name Jorge Nuvelin and the coach decided to take him to Huracán where he not only made the Academy and lived at the team’s housing (Pensión), but debuted on August of 2013.
It was that coach who seeing Alejandro style of play wanted to compare him with a Brazilian star, and in an intent to call him little ‘kaká’ ended up calling Romero ‘Kaku’, a nickname that is more know today in Argentinian soccer than his full name.
Alejandro played academy for Huracán and when he was playing “Sexta” (Sixth division), Antonio ‘Turco’ Mohamed (today Rayados’ coach in Liga MX) called him up for the First Team, jumping part of the process (the path to professionalism would be 6th – 5th – 4th – Reserva and then First Team).
The Mohamed house played a big role on Romero’s process. He even recognized how Antonio’s wife Patricia, helped him with money when he had no means to make it to the next stipend he used to receive while in the Academy.
His first game as a starter was for Copa Libertadores against Peruvian side Alianza Lima. Huracán won the match 4-0 and Kaku scored one of the goals. That game was under the interim term of Nestor Apuzzo as coach of the First Team.
Apuzzo has been for a long time the director of Huracan’s Academy, someone who believed on Kaku’s talent from the early days even to the point of being label for Romero as his savior. It relates to a time when playing for the academy ‘Kaku’ suffered an injury that made him think on drop his dream and give up on soccer, but the insistence from Apuzzo and motivation from his mother, made Alejandro come back to the work and regain his fitness.
The work paid off, Kaku not only made it to First Team but played the U20 World Cup with Argentina. He has the two jerseys (Huracán – debut’s day and Argentina U20) framed at home. For two years in a row, Alejandro was important part of the silverware and International recognition that Huracán brought back to his fans.
On February 10, 2016, the dream was very close to be cut short. Huracán played the night before in Venezuela vs Caracas FC (for the preliminary round of Copa Libertadores -Huracán won the face off and made it to the groups stage). And on this day, the team was headed to the airport when the bus lost it’s brakes and flips over on a ramp. Reports at the moment said that the speed of the bus was as high as 120 km/h ( almost 75 milles on a ramp).
Lucky for him, Kaku was uninjured but two of his teammates didn’t have the same luck. Patricio Toranzo lost four fingers from his left foot and Diego Mendoza resulted with an important injury on his right ankle (a member of the technical staff was injured too).
“After what I saw on TV, I will only feel he’s safe when I can see him eye to eye and hug him”, said Romero’s mom while waiting for hours that the team come back from Venezuela the following day of the accident.
It wasn’t only one of those mother’s things. Alejandro recognized that the relationship was different. “She suffered a lot when she was growing up and made sure that we had as much as she could. We were friends, she and I were very close”. Mom was on attendance to almost every game Huracán and her son played at home.
Yes!, were, because in September 2017 after an illness, Gladys passed away. The kid off course suffered a lot and on October 28th Kaku shook his sadness off (4-0 victory vs Lanús) and scored. “When the ball went in I just wanted to cry and look to the sky. We are a big family and she was everything for us”, he said after the game.
“I wanted to take her to travel with me, I wanted to give her an own house. Now I will do it on her name”, He explained some weeks later.
Beside a few weeks of mourning, Romero didn’t lost his fitness or soccer form. He kept being important for Huracán and when the questions began to pop up about options to leave the club, he always stated that one of the important elements for him was to make sure that Huracán would benefit from him and any transaction so the club could keep focusing on the academy and give the youngsters better tools to be developed.
Before his mom passed away, Cruz Azul from Liga MX wanted to have Romero Gamarra, negotiations were going fine between the player and the Mexican side, but Cruz Azul wanted to have him on loan (paying US$2 million). At the end, the negotiations between Huracán and Cruz Azul fell through.
“I’m ok with that”, he said. “I’m fine here and if any club wants to take me, they will have to negotiate with Nadur (Alejandro – Huracan’s president), he’s hard to negotiate with, but I know that at the end, He will get the best for the club”.
Leaving Huracán is not simple for Kaku, he played more than 100 games for the side including the local tournament, Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana (both continental competitions). He won Copa Argentina (2013-14) and Super Copa Argentina ( 2014) for ‘El Globo’, most of the time with the number 10 on his back.
He’s 5’7” – 147 pounds, a crafty lefty with a very good right foot. Mostly playing the left wing or as a number 10 behind two strikers, with a few games on the right wing too. Kaku is married with Karen and is a father of two kids, including a little girl named Catalina, who was born a month before Kaku’s mom passed away.
And despide all his hardships, Romero was well know inside the locker room for being a joyful guy who is looking to play jokes and make everybody laugh to keep the high spirit.