Martin Palermo earned his recall to the Argentina side by doing what he does best: scoring goals, and lots of them. Boca Juniors’ all-time top scorer with 218 in all, El Loco endured a frustrating time in his first spell in the blue and white striped jersey, during which he had the misfortune to miss three penalties in a 1999 Copa America tie against Colombia. Having put that unwanted hat-trick behind him, Palermo found redemption ten years later when Diego Maradona restored him to the Albiceleste line-up. The free-scoring striker repaid his coach by hitting a late winner against Peru last October, the goal that finally cleared Argentina’s path to South Africa 2010.
Palermo began his prolific club career at Estudiantes. Two seasons after helping Los Pincharratas win promotion to the first division in 1995, he joined Boca Juniors, where he has acquired the status of a legend. In two different spells with Los Xeneizes, in between which came a brief sojourn in Spain, he has collected the small matter of six league titles, two Copa Libertadores, a Copa Intercontinental, two Copa Sudamericanas and three Recopa Sudamericanas.
Following Palermo’s recall, Maradona handed him the captaincy for a number of friendlies held on home soil, although that goal against Peru is undoubtedly the crowning moment of his international career to date. Dubbed “St Palermo” by his national coach, the Boca striker has an insatiable appetite for goals and can cause all sort of problems for defences in the air, having honed his prodigious leap playing volleyball in his early years.
With the Argentine national team Palermo has played fifteen matches and has scored nine goals. He is featured in the Guinness Book of World Records for missing three penalties for Argentina in a single international match against Colombia for the Copa America 1999. The first penalty rebounded off the crossbar, whilst the second went over, causing TV commentators to remark, “Even higher than the first one.” Though the third was on target it was saved by Miguel Calero. It seemed that his international career had finished in 1999 with no further call ups, but in 2008 national coach Alfio Basile stated that he was very disappointed that Palermo had suffered an injury, because he had been considering offering him a return to international football.
Current Argentine coach Maradona recalled Palermo to the national team and introduced him as a substitute in the 2010 World Cup qualifying game against Paraguay after a 10 year exile from the international scene. A couple of weeks later he was once again called up to play a Friendly match against Ghana. For this game Palermo was part of the starting eleven and Martin made the most of it by scoring the only goals of the game which Argentina won 2–0. Martin’s next game was on October 10, for a 2010 World Cup qualifier against Peru. Palermo sealed a 2–1 victory for Argentina with a 93rd minute strike. After the game Maradona described the goal as “One more miracle of Saint Palermo.”
On May 19, 2010, Martin Palermo was selected to the Argentine national team 23 man final roster for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, this will be Palermo’s first World Cup.
On June 22, 2010, Palermo got his chance to play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, coming as a substitute in the late stages of Argentina’s final group match against Greece. In the 89th minute of this match, he scored his first ever world cup goal on a rebound from a shot from Lionel Messi. Argentina won the match 2-0 and finished top of their group. This goal also vaulted Palermo in the position of the oldest Argentine national team member to score a goal in World Cup play. Prior to this goal, that honor had been held by Diego Maradona.