Dante Rossi and Adolfo Hirsch, the Argentines from San Marino: what it’s like to play for the worst national team in the world

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They grew up together in a town in the province of Buenos Aires and soccer brought them together again in the oldest sovereign state, with a team that never won an official match.

It has been a game and a half that they don’t score us. It is historical. Slovenia’s goal was 3 minutes into the second half. From there, you have everything that was left of that game and all the last one against Liechtenstein, which we tied 0-0. A game and a half. It’s a lot”.

The first data that distinguishes the Serene Republic of San Marino and what makes its people proud is that it is the oldest sovereign state in the world.

It is embedded within Italy, with the Adriatic 10 kilometers away, it has just 61 km2 of surface and inhabits just over 30,000 people, including some 700 Argentines.

They say that there are more cars than people, that Italians envy the level with which they live there and that within this microstate they breathe a strong sense of belonging: first the sanmarinense, second the sanmarinense and third the sanmarinense.

Among many other things, San Marino is the land of the soccer team with the worst run of all time. The last in the ranking FIFA: ranked 210. The one that never won an official match. The one that has Argentines on its squad.

“I define it as a town with First World comforts,” he says. Adolfo Hirsch-. You have everything, you don’t need to go out, or even go to Italy. The tranquility is impressive and gives you a lot of peace. My 7-year-old son can ride his bike quietly in the street or leave school alone. It is the same as how I grew up more than 20 years ago. That is why there is also a bit of envy from the Italian to the San Marino: he sees him as privileged, because he has a better lifestyle ”.

Hirsch has lived in San Marino for 11 years. He goes to work in a furniture factory at 6 in the morning. Program the machines and check that the assembly line circulates correctly.

He obtained nationality through the maternal branch of his genealogical tree and after contacting another Argentine footballer, Danilo Rinaldi, who still lives and plays in San Marino, was encouraged to pack his bags.

“It happened to me from working all week at the factory and at the weekend playing against Belgium or Italy. Here there are very few who make a living from football. The level of the league is like a Federal B of Argentina, with the difference that physically it is not so demanding. Here they are much more tactical, they play more orderly ”, describes Hirsch, who is 34 years old and in Argentina did Inferiores in Banfield, played a year in Juventud de Pergamino and then ended up in Conesa Fútbol Club, in San Nicolás.

A couple of hours from San Nicolás, on Route 9, at the Centenario club in San José de la Esquina, I was playing Dante Rossi when in mid-2019 the call came from San Marino. He knew of that possibility from Hirsch, with whom they grew up together and they shared children’s soccer in Guerrico, a town of the Pergamino party, almost on the border with Santa Fe.

Now soccer united them in another town, but in Europe.

“What is worth two euros today will be worth four euros in four years. And that orders your head. We in Argentina used to think: “Do I make ends meet or not?”. Maybe the following month I would charge a little more, but I was enough for the same. This stability makes you think and be different, “says Rossi, a 33-year-old defender.

And he continues: “Here the priority is always for the San Marino in matters of work, health, everything. For example, if an Italian and a San Marino go to ask for a job, they will give it to the San Marino. That leads to the inhabitants of here choose which work to do and which not to do, which is why the factories tend to include foreigners who arrive nationalized or Italians who come, fulfill their working hours and return. The San Marino prefers to work in an office”.

Dante and Adolfo play for Società Sportiva Pennarossa, a club founded in 1968, which was once local league champion (2003/2004) and whose stadium, Campo sportivo di Chiesanuova, has a capacity for a thousand spectators, although the average, Before the pandemic, it was around 300 fans per game.

They are also part of the stable cast of the National Team, following the path of Danilo Rinaldi, forward of La Fiorita (one of the leaders of the league) and the first Argentine to play with the colors of San Marino.

“You have to do a click -mark Hirsch-. In my club, playing as an attacker, I know that I will have 3 or 4 goal situations per game. Several games pass in the National Team and you don’t have one. Or you accompany an attack and you don’t even touch the ball. So you have to change the mindset; it’s totally different ”.


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