Hero ISL fraternity unites to pray for Gallego's swift recovery
NorthEast United FC may have lost Monday's match and an opportunity to feature in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 final, but won the hearts of millions with their performance. Despite missing multiple key players, the Highlanders put up a brave front to hold the relentless Bengaluru FC at bay for almost three-quarters of the match and perhaps no one embodied their warrior-like spirit on the night better than Federico Gallego, who gave it his all and then some for the team’s cause.
The Uruguayan was absolutely phenomenal on the pitch, acting as the lynchpin during NorthEast’s attacks and tracking back to help out the defence whenever needed. With Bartholomew Ogbeche and Rowllin Borges missing due to injuries, Gallego stepped up to take up the mantle of the team's talisman on the field.
However, akin to any hero of a classic Greek tragedy, the night ended on a sombre note for the Uruguayan. Minutes before the hour mark, in a bid to foil a dangerous Bengaluru attack, Gallego put his body on the line to deny Miku a scoring opportunity and in the process, gravely injured himself.
Such was the severity of his injury, Gallego had to be carried off the field in an ambulance with a suspected broken foot.
His departure eventually helped Bengaluru turn the tide of the match, as NorthEast evidently missed his composure and dogged resilience in the middle of the park. The Blues would finally go on to break down the Highlanders a few minutes later, with Miku scoring the all-important first goal of the match. Two more goals from Dimas Delgado and Sunil Chhetri followed as Bengaluru secured a 3-0 win, overturning the 2-1 first leg deficit in the process.
Despite the loss, Gallego's valiant showing on the night earned the respect of fans, his peers and most notably the opposition players. After the match, several Bengaluru players like Sunil Chhetri, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Dimas Delgado and others took time off from the celebrations to wish the Uruguayan star a speedy recovery.
Also, Gallego, it was really sad to see you leave the pitch like that. You are a fantastic player and I’m sending you all the good wishes for a speedy recovery.— Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) March 11, 2019
Just want to take this moment and wish @Fedegallego a very speedy recovery from the injury he sustained last night, you have been one of the most consistent players this season in the @IndSuperLeague #GetWellSoonBrother— Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (@GurpreetGK) March 12, 2019
Hero ISL players from other teams also joined in on the prayers.
All my best wishes for Federico Gallego. All of us who love this sport do not like these things. We are looking forward to seeing you play again. great force phenomenon— Pablo Morgado Blanco (@PMorgado11) March 11, 2019
No one in our business deserve to be injured, hope the people give all the support to Gallego , be strong and take care bro 😥— Marcelo Leite (@marcelinholeite) March 11, 2019
Congrats to @bengalurufc on being the 1st team to reach the @IndSuperLeague Finals. Commiserations to @NEUtdFC who fought until the very end! But my thoughts are with Gallego right now, hope the injury isn’t as bad as it looked! Get back soon! 😔🙏🏼— Iain Hume (@Humey_7) March 11, 2019
NorthEast owner John Abraham and head coach Eelco Schattorie, too, sent out tweets to wish the Uruguayan a speedy recovery.
Such a heartbreaking game. Incredibly proud of how our boys fought with their whole soul despite all the injuries - shows their incredible character. My heart goes out to Gallego who has sustained multiple fractures. @NEUtdFC #NEUFC #StrongerTogether #United— John Abraham (@TheJohnAbraham) March 11, 2019
I don’t wanne think of any football at the moment. Federico’s injury breaks my heart. Multiple fractures in his shin bone. Please give him all the support he needs and deserves.— Eelco Schattorie (@ESchattorie) March 11, 2019
Football pundits and fans also sent in their wishes for the player.
Real credit must go to @NEUtdFC & @ESchattorie for his teams performance this season.— Paul Masefield (@masefield2110) March 11, 2019
Injuries and a smaller squad played its part but 👏 for their best ever season.
Prayers and thoughts are with @Fedegallego for a speedy recover. Get well soon. #BENNEU #FanBannaPadega
While we celebrate the magic at the fortress, let's not forget that @NEUtdFC 's Gallego had to suffer Multiple fractures in his shin bone. Nobody deserves that. Sending the positive thoughts your way from all of us at @WestBlockBlues. Get well soon champ. #BENNEU @ESchattorie— Waseem Ahmed ವಸೀಮ್ ಅಹ್ಮದ್ 🇮🇳 (@Waseem_Ahmed11) March 11, 2019
Incredible performance by BFC tonight. But deeply distressed by the horrific injury to Federico Gallego, who sustained multiple fractures to his leg. I pray that God gives him strength to pull through this and make it back on the pitch ASAP!#BENNEU #AnimoGallego #PrayForGallego— Suvesh Subramanyam (@suvesh18) March 11, 2019