When Santi Giménez debuted: 15 years old and with his father in the team
The Feyenoord forward and Atlético’s rival in the Champions League, debuted with Cruz Azul, with his father as a teammate and Paco as coach.
Santi Giménez, born in Buenos Aires back in 2001, has emerged as one of the significant breakthroughs in European football over the past year and a half. For Atlético Madrid, who he faces in the Champions League group stage on Tuesday, he represents the most considerable threat from Feyenoord. The Mexican international (he was born in Argentina and also holds Italian nationality, but was raised in Mexico and represents the country) faces Diego Simeone’s team with 18 goals in 16 matches this season, a performance that has captured the attention of several continental clubs, including Atlético themselves.
While relatively new to the European scene, his football journey traces back to his time in America.
Santi Giménez: from Cruz Azul to Champions League
In Giménez’s unofficial debut with the first team of Cruz Azul, a rare and remarkable coincidence unfolded in football history. The striker came on to the field during a friendly against Pumas, where, to everyone’s surprise, his father, Christian, known as Chaco, was also on the field as his teammate. But wait, there was an even more unexpected twist to the story.
Wearing the number 349 (yes, that’s not a typo!), the debutant earned a penalty but, after sustaining an injury, couldn’t take it himself. His father stepped in... and missed.
Santi directly inherited one of his father’s nicknames: Chaquito, although he wasn’t particularly thrilled about it, as he felt the need to create his own legacy. Another nickname he goes by is Bebote.
Jémez: the coach that scolded Santi
The coach responsible for this development was Paco Jémez, who provided the opportunity for the current Feyenoord striker when he was just a boy. On that day he was just 15, and he made his official debut in a match at the age of 16.
“He’s the coach who scolded me the most and gave me a self-confidence that I don’t know how to thank him for,” commented Giménez about the Spaniard a year ago. The prolific scorer fuelled excitement at Cruz Azul until 2022, when he made the leap to Europe, joining Feyenoord and being recruited by Dennis Te Kloese, who, before becoming a club executive, had worked in Mexico with youth football.
The Mexican forward arrived for around six million euros (c.$6.6m) and signed a contract until 2026. Since then, his market value has soared, with Transfermarkt values him at around 40 million, but many believing he’ll be sold for more if his form continues. The Dutch club states a reluctance to sell Giménez, yet it eagerly anticipates every stellar performance from its star, especially on big occasions like Champions League nights. Atlético Madrid’s challenge, having missed facing him at the Metropolitano due to suspension, is to make him go unnoticed in their upcoming encounter.
And if some reports are to be believed, and a Real Madrid move happens, he may be facing them on a more regular basis in the future...