Román Burruchaga, football legacy from his father and his first ATP win
CÓRDOBA, Argentina – At the age of eleven, Román Burruchaga had to decide between two sports in which he showed talent. Football or tennis? The football heritage is strong when your father, Jorge, belongs to that small group of players who scored a goal in a World Cup Final. But Román’s love for tennis was greater. Today, that decision he made more than a decade ago is paying off: at the ATP 250 in Córdoba he took his first victory at that level.
“My dad came today, he wanted to see me here. I’m very happy that he’s there by my side always supporting me”, the 22-years-old player said on a hot Tuesday night, after defeating former world No. 8 Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.
Córdoba is special for the Burruchaga family. Jorge scored his first goal in Argentina’s First Division at the Mario Alberto Kempes Stadium in 1982. In 2024, a few meters away from the center court of the Córdoba Open, in the same venue, Román made his winner debut on the tour.
When he chose tennis, Román felt no pressure. The fact that his father was a world champion with the Argentine National Team and that he is one of the most important footballers in the history of Argentina was a privilege. As it has always been, also in Córdoba, Jorge signed autographs and took pictures with the fans. Burruchaga Jr. grew up seeing these demonstrations of popular affection. He used them as a source of inspiration. “I’m very proud of my dad. Because of his tremendous history in football, there’s no doubt he had a great career; also because of that goal he scored in the World Cup final, but more than anything because of how he is as a person. That’s why he inspires me a lot both in sport and in life”, Román told the author of this article when he was 17 years old and ranked 1724th in the world. With his win against Schwartzman, he will be close to the top 150.
Many times, Román Burruchaga watched the sequence: Diego Maradona’s spectacular pass and an explosive sprint from his father. With almost no strength left in the 83rd minute of the Mexico 86 World Cup Final, Argentina’s number 7 scored with his right foot. The ball slipped between the legs of West Germany goalkeeper Toni Schumacher and Burruchaga went to celebrate on his knees, raising his arms in the air. Román watched that goal so many times, and many others, he navigated the web watching and analyzing tapes of his father’s matches for Argentina and Independiente, the club where he was an idol.
Burruchaga Sr. discovered tennis when he was playing for Nantes in France, in the second half of the 80s. There he took lessons and participated in some tournaments between employees, as he told the ATP website.
Burruchaga Jr. played football for River Plate, and at that club he picked up a racquet for the first time. At the age of ten he was already beating his father, who today enjoys tennis in the stands, although he feels more stress there than what he felt against the Germans in 1986.
MAIN PHOTO: Jorge and Román Burruchaga at the Córdoba Open 2024 // MARCOS ZUGASTI, PRENSA CÓRDOBA OPEN