Delfina Merino was the youngest person in the Argentina women’s national team at the 2010 World Cup in Rosario. At just 20 years of age, this was her third major international competition and it came with the added pressure of being held in front of home fans in Rosario.
“It was amazing,” says the 31-year-old striker as she looks back. “Because Rosario is not too far from Buenos Aires, where my family lives, all my friends, family and club members were able to come and watch us play. It was an amazing atmosphere.”
Argentina strolled through the pool stages winning against South Africa, Korea and Spain. Their next pool match was against the tough defensive side of China. And it was here that Merino’s team mate Luciana Aymar scored one of the most memorable goals in hockey’s history.
Merino was sitting out that game but, she says, as she watched from the sidelines she could hear the cheers resonate as Aymar weaved her way past one defender after another before slotting the ball home.
“The thing is,” says Merino, “that was common for us. We saw Lucha do that in training all the time, but to do it in a match is a different thing. We looked at each other and said, ‘did she just do that?”
The rest is history. Argentina ended that game as 2-0 winners. They then beat England to top their pool. A semi-final win over Germany set up the final with The Netherlands, which Las Leonas won 3-1 amid a cacophony of sound. As any hockey athlete will say, to be on the pitch in Rosario when Argentina are playing hockey is a momentous occasion.
“When we won the World Cup, I felt like I was floating on air,” says Merino. “We had trained so hard leading up to the event but at that moment it was worth every second and moment of hard work. From then until today and until the day we die, that moment will be in our hearts.”
See the entire interview with Delfina Merino on watch.hockey and watch Luciana Aymar’s wonder goal against China in our Legendary Moments series published on .