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Among the soccer players who have been keeping alive Argentina’s standard in the world of international football is Marcos Rojo, who performs the role of a defender in his team. He is also associated with Premier League giants, Manchester United.
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Rojo’s career started at a local club named Estudiantes de La Plata; it was here that he earned his first recognition by helping to win the Copa Libertadores of 2009. The same year, he was seen playing in the final of the Club World Cup. In 2012, Rojo signed with Sporting CP, following a short period of time at Spartak Moscow. He joined Manchester United for an amount of £16 million after two years.
Rojo first appeared for Argentina’s senior team in the year 2011, earning more than 50 caps since then. He was a member of the World Cup Final squad in 2014. He became the only footballer from Argentina who got included in Castrol Performance Index Team of the Tournament.
Rojo started his youth career in 2000, at Estudiantes de La Plata, a club based in his hometown, and he was ten years of age at that time. His youth career continued till 2008, after which he got his promotion to the main team of the club in 2009, and he signed his first professional contract. He continued his soccer career with the team for another three years.
During his career, he appeared in 43 games and scored 3 goals, for his team. He was part of the Club World Cup 2009 squad in the final, and faced Barcelona who defeated Rojo’s team with a score of 2-1. During his tenure at the team, Rojo lifted the Copa Libertadores and Argentine Primera Division trophies. In most of his matches, he was seen as a left back; he was renowned as an attacker. His first goal was in a Recopa Sudamericana match in 2010 against LDU Quito, which ended in a 2–1 defeat.
During his spell at the team till 2011, Estudiantes La Plata’s successes included:
In December of 2010, Spartak Moscow signed Rojo for a contract period of five years. His transfer fee remained undisclosed as he shifted from his first team to the Russian team. During his tenure of one season, he contributed to the team by making only one goal, in a match in April 2011, as he netted the first goal of the Russian Cup quarter-final game that ended with a score of 2–1 as his team lost to Krasnodar.
In July 2012, after his single season with the Russian club, Rojo made his move to Portugal to join the club Sporting CP. He signed a contract of four years, for a fee of £3.5 million. Rojo debuted in Primeira Liga for his new team in August 2012. He got booked in that match Vitória de Guimarães which ended in a goalless draw. He picked up his first red card for the team during a league game against Porto in October 2012, after he was cautioned twice within a short period of just 3 min; Sporting lost the match with a score of 2–0.
His first goal for the new club was scored in April 2013, as he netted the winning goal against Nacional. He was mostly seen in the role of centre-back during the first season at this team, though he occasionally performed the role of a left-back. His team saw a comparatively poor season, as they finished in the seventh place on the league table.
Rojo’s first goal in the 2013–14 season was in the second league match of that season, as he netting the second attempt of his team, in a 4–0 victory over Académica de Coimbra. In April 2014, he had to be sent off the field during the Primeira Liga match, but Sporting went on to win against Belenenses with a score of 1–0 win. This turned out to be a better season for Sporting than the previous one, as they finished off in the second position, and Rojo contributed to this improvement with six goals.
In August 2014, Rojo was declared to be undergoing a disciplining session by Sporting as he refused to join the training, after he handed a transfer request to his team and reportedly tried to push his move to the English Premier League champion Manchester United. Bruno de Carvalho, the president of Sporting CP, later accused Rojo’s third-party owners, who were not the English club’s representative, of pressuring Sporting into putting the player up for sale.
Finally, in August 2014, both Sporting and Manchester United declared that they have come to an agreement over the sale of Rojo for a fee of €20 million i.e. £16 million, and this declaration was followed by another announcement by the English team that they had signed Rojo on a contract of five years, while Nani went to Sporting on loan for the season.
Rojo faced problems in gaining his work permit because of his pending criminal charges in his homeland, Argentina, as a result of a dispute with a neighbour back in 2010. So, he missed three matches for Manchester United. In September, he finally got his permit from the UK Border Agency to live in England as a professional. He debuted at his new club’s home ground, Old Trafford, in a match against Queens Park Rangers which ended with a score of 4–0 win; this was his team’s first victory in the season.
Rojo had to leave the match in which his team faced Manchester City and lost with a score of 1-0 in November, after he sustained an injury in the shoulder as a result of a tackle on opponent team’s Martín Demichelis. Later on, a confirmation about his dislocated shoulder added to the list of defensive injuries of United during the season. In February 2015, he made his first goal for the English club, as he headed Robin van Persie’s shot, sending it to the back of the opponent’s box. It was MUFC’s second goal in the 3–0 victory over Cambridge United in the fourth round replay at FA Cup.
In the 2015 pre-season tour of Manchester United in North America, Rojo was supposed to join the other members of the squad at the end of the break after representing his national team in the Copa America. But, due to passport issues, Rojo missed the whole tour, seemingly angering coach Louis van Gaal, and the player had to pay a fine of £140,000 for his failure to join the team on time. In April 2017, Rojo suffered an injury during a 2-1 victory over Anderlecht, which cut his season short.
During Rojo’s tenure, the successes amassed by Manchester United include:
Rojo has been associated with Argetina since the year 2011, when he first received a cap in February. It was a friendly match against Portugal which ended in a 2-1 win for Argentina. That same year, he became part of the squad that participated in the Copa América. He was seen in the opening match that ended in a draw with Bolivia with one goal by each team. However, he was not part of the matches for the rest of the matches in the campaign till the quarter finals.
In June 2014, Rojo was announced in the squad that played in FIFA World Cup 2014. He debuted in the tournament in a match against Bosnia as Argentina bagged a 2–1 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina. He contributed the own goal by Sead Kolašinac. In the third group match of the team, he made his first international goal, which was the winning shot in the 3–2 win over Nigeria. Argentina went to the final round, but they were knocked out by Germany, with Rojo becoming the only Argentine soccer player to be announced as part of the Castrol Index Top 11.
Manager Gerardo Martino chose Rojo for the Copa América of 2015. In June, he made the first goal of the 6–1 semi-final win over Paraguay, as Argentina went to the final.
Rojo was born and brought up in La Plata, a city in Argentina’s Buenos Aires district. He showed his keenness for the sport of football from an early age, and joined his first team, Estudiantes, when he was hardly 10 years of age. He did not belong to a very wealthy family, and as Rojo himself recounts, his father used to take him to his training on a cycle, as he did not have a car then. He used to sell churros on the streets while Marcos trained, and after that, the father-son-duo would return home on their bicycle. His was, nicknamed Titi, was an amateur player at El Cruce. Rojo is now married to Lisbon-based model Eugenia Lusardo, with whom he has two kids, Morena and Martina. The couple met when Rojo was associated with Sporting CP. He has a young sister, Sol, and a brother, named Godson.
Rojo’s current market value is £16.2 million, which is a decline from his highest market value of £17.10 million, a value he acquired in the year 2016, when he was just a few seasons old at Manchester United.
As a talented player who has grabbed the attention of the football fraternity with his amazing performances, Rojo has made many contributions to his teams, helping them lift trophies, as well as give memorable performances in matches that they lost. He was named in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team of 2014, which is counted as a huge individual honour for any footballer.