Saturday January 13 2018
Plenty to love about Papu

Beyond his dance moves, goals and vibrant personality, Papu Gomez has been a beacon of loyalty to Bergamo, writes Matthew Santangelo.

Prior to arriving in Bergamo in 2014, Alejandro Gomez spent several successful years in Sicily with Catania, who employed plenty of Argentine internationals to form one of the top flight’s most unique and exciting sides.

After leaving southern Italy for a cup of coffee in Ukraine with Metalist Kharkiv for the 2013-14 season, the diminutive attacker couldn’t resist the urge to make a return to old stomping grounds in Italy, this time settling in Bergamo to play for Atalanta. 

Since the day he set foot at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, Gomez has gradually become a figurehead for the club, supporters and the city of Bergamo, who absolutely adore their current captain – on the pitch and off.

Early on in his career at Atalanta, ‘El Papu’ played a bit of a backseat role, contributing with an occasional goal or assist for a side either struggling to stay afloat in the first division, or lingering around in the bottom half of the table. Yet, that would all change through not only producing on the pitch, but also being the energetic leader ‘the Goddess’ needed to escape obscurity and strive for something bigger than himself.

Last season, Atalanta enjoyed their most successful season ever, against all football betting tips odds, finishing an impressive fourth in the table with 72 points. Led by manager Gian Piero Gasperini, a youth movement including Franck Kessie, Andrea Conti, Mattia Caldara and Roberto Gagliardini took Serie A by storm, forming one of the most likeable and respected sides in the Peninsula.

But, like with most young squads, a glue is essentially to keep it all together and encourage the youth to remain humble, yet hungry. That glue was captain Papu Gomez, who carried ‘La Dea’ on his little shoulders to their first European competition in nearly 30 years, scoring 16 goals and supplying 10 assists.

Not only did the 29-year old deliver on the pitch with awe-inspiring numbers, he turned skeptics into believers, kept a loose atmosphere and allowed for his teammates to play freely and with the utmost confidence.

Besides his performance on the pitch, Gomez became Bergamo’s most beloved personality. A cult hero of sorts, dancing around, wearing unconventional armbands each week, and romanticizing about the game in the same manner many children his size grow up doing with a ball at their feet.

As we all know, football is unlike any other sport. The individuals are seen in a very different light than any other professional athlete, for the bonds they form with supporters and the city cannot be undermined.

Papu has energized an entire region beyond his now viral dance and goalscoring boots. His dedication to stay at the club and his presence alone has brought belief that whomever Atalanta face, they have a legit shot of beating that day – especially in this year’s Europa League, where they impressively topped a group with Everton and Lyon.

It takes a very special individual and personality to become a symbolic figure at a club in Italy, especially if that individual has neither grown through the academy ranks nor helped lift a trophy. But Papu Gomez is one of those rare breeds doing it many ways you cannot help but love, appreciate and admire. 

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Have your say...
Good player, but dives too much
on the 15th January, 2018 at 7:03pm
@Spanish section of naples?
is your name also a legit question ? If so
on the 14th January, 2018 at 3:28am
Now speaking to La Dea. They've done it the right way, and and will also begin rebuilding their stadia. The Nerrazzurri in Bergamo are on their way to becoming a mainstay top 5 team.
on the 13th January, 2018 at 11:32pm
That Argentine mindset in Catania is the reason they're in Serie C and soon bankruptcy. They loaded their team with all foreigners, and those foreigners all jumped ship when they were relegated to Serie B. They've been in a downwards spiral ever since.
on the 13th January, 2018 at 11:31pm
He has had pretty consistent goal scoring stats since his catania days i really don't see why anyone would be sceptical of his quality. It is quite some way to go to be legend perhaps he could equal ganz goal scoring record in a couple of season maybe even equal dennis. It would be a shame if he was to move on it is a pretty special partnership.
on the 13th January, 2018 at 5:25pm
Well done Papu!
Gasperini surely does know how to bring the best out of him.
Atalanta is having a magical revival of late.
on the 13th January, 2018 at 3:31pm
"Plenty to love about Papu" And what is that? The fact that he is whining on social media about Lichtsteiner's elbow and his bleeding/pierced lip, when Lichtsteiner didn't even touch him there, and an actual man wouldn't complain about bigger injuries, let alone a lip bleed? Or some stupid dance? If that "dab" dance which Pogba does is laughed at and receives flak, WTF is that nonsense he does? What a rubbish article.
on the 13th January, 2018 at 10:33am

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