Tasman United have signed on Argentinian Facu Barbero. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Argentinian striker to set Tasman’s attack alight


New Tasman United striker Facu Barbero took the long way around to get to Nelson.

The Argentinian boarded a plane bound from his homeland to New Zealand last week, however, cancellations saw him go through Brazil, Ethiopia, Hong Kong and China before finally touching down in Auckland four days later.

As exhausted as he was, Facu was so excited to meet his team that he headed straight from the airport to training.

The 23-year-old is the latest signing for Tasman United, completing a formidable international attacking trio with Jama Boss and Jean- Phillippe Saiko.

When Jess Ibrom called Facu with an offer to spend the summer in Nelson playing football, he took less than half an hour to decide.

“I was just starting uni, but I spoke to my family and they said to go for it.”

Facu first came to New Zealand in 2014 where he played for Island Bay in Wellington and later for Hawke’s Bay United.

“I didn’t speak any English, so it was quite hard at first.”

However, Facu soon became a fan favourite, thanks to his goal scoring exploits.

“I love New Zealand, I was always keen to come back and I knew Jess from my time in Wellington, so that’s how this opportunity came up.”

Like rugby is to Kiwis, football is a religion in Argentina.

Facu says his earliest memories are around the game he loves – playing with balled-up socks in the middle of the street.

“Cars would even wait for someone to score before trying to get through. The first thing you do in Argentina is kick a ball around.”

Superstar Lionel Messi is, of course, hero to Facu.

“He is the best in the world, my idol, if you are from Argentina you have to love Messi.”

Though he would love to follow in the footsteps of the world’s best player, Facu says he is realistic about his chances of making the national team in Argentina.

“It’s basically impossible, but is still, of course, a dream.”