HAWKESBURY City has secured the services of Uruguayan midfielder Sebastian Gallegos, in what coach Dean Bertenshaw has described as a once in a lifetime opportunity for the club.
Gallegos has played for Uruguay’s under-17 and under-20s team, and has played professionally for a number of years in his home country.
But the playmaker has come to Australia to travel during a break in the South American football season, and to keep match fitness, has joined up with Hawkesbury City.
Gallegos, who speaks limited English, told the Gazette he was looking forward to exploring Sydney and other areas while also playing football.
City coach Dean Bertenshaw said it was incredible that a player like Gallegos was playing at Hawkesbury.
“He has been amazing. He is a wonderful player and is really enjoying himself and he has so much to show the skids and other first grade players it is unbelievable,” he said.
Gallegos played in two junior World Cups, where he faced off against the likes of Brazilian superstar Neymar, while the 26-year-old has enjoyed a professional career to date, with stints in both European and South American leagues.
Bertenshaw said the excitement of having a player the calibre of Gallegos around the club had been evident. His first night of training saw the grandstand at Bensons Lane packed out with children and parents to watch him train with the first grade squad.
“It brings excitement and everyone at the club wants to be involved and be around him when he is there,” he said.
“All the kids bring their parents down, because they want to watch him. We filled the grandstand just for a training night, and we’re only going to get more while he is here.”
Bertenshaw said the attacking midfielder had an excellent debut for the club against Dulwich Hill.
“He performed really well in the first game. he was exceptional really,” he said.
“He even experienced the fog at Bensons for the first time.
“We're looking for him to settle in over the next month or so and help us push on.”
Gallegos is the latest in what has become a production line of Uruguayan players coming to play for the club, thanks to in part to one of the club’s coaches Gustavo Yuletian.
This season, the club has already played a number of games with Joaquin Veliz, while last year Santiago Pallares and Santiago López made the trip to Australia.
Bertenshaw said it was great having professional players at the amateur club to encourage the youngsters.
“It is so important that people can see what the top level can look like, so they can set their own goals and aspire to be as good as him,” he said.
"If you can model and show what a top level player looks like then it helps everybody with their game.”
Bertenshaw added that Gallegos had been helping to coach some of the club juniors at training sessions since he had touched down in the country.