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Everton fans are used to watching big strikers with tattoos – not that the crest on Denis Stracqualursi’s right calf will mean a lot to them.
A native of Rafaela – not far from Rosario, the birthplace of Leo Messi – Stracqualursi is a fanatical supporter of provincial force Colón de Santa Fe.
So much so in fact that he felt the need to sear their colours into his flesh – an act that stoked the ire of supporters of Gimnasia La Plata, following his move there in 2008.
Fortunately, Evertonians are unlikely to harbour any such tribal grievance based on the striker’s footballing espousal, but this tale is only a small chapter of his intriguing story.
Nicknamed ‘El Traca’ (The Firecracker) or ‘Tracagol’ by fans of his former club, Tigre, Stracqualursi’s move to Goodison Park caps an incredible 18 months for the 23-year-old.
“He was probably on his way to being a journeyman striker,” remarked Buenos Aires-based scribe Joel Richards. “He had a few clubs and did not score many goals, but everything clicked for him and he exploded with Tigre.”
The son of a marble carver, and youth player with Sporting Club Ben Hur, Stracqualursi graduated to earning around 30-40 Pesos a game, the equivalent of £5-6, about four years ago.
That was in the regionalised Argentine third division with Unión de Sunchales, from his home province.
A breakthrough move to then top-flight Gimnasia ensued and his first goal – ironically a winner against his beloved Colón de Santa Fe – was followed by a derby brace to see off Estudiantes in the fiercely-contested Clásico Platense.
That should have proved a launchpad but Gimnasia were having a poor season and goals were hard to come by for El Traca.
A loan move to the unfashionable Tigre followed at the end of the season and it was with the Buenos Aires minnows he found a perfect fit – their rise to prominence almost mirroring that of their rugged new centre-forward.
Tim Vickery, the Rio de Janeiro-based South American football expert, explains: “He is 23 years old. He was not a child prodigy. He is not from Buenos Aires, he is from the province of Santa Fe which is where Messi is from and they are roughly the same age. But that is where the similarities end.
“The main difference is size and he is a big, big bloke, a big striker. He came through the youth ranks I think at a club called Ben Hur, so if Everton ever take up chariot racing he will be very useful!
“He is coming off the back of a season where he did very well at Tigre, a small club, in many ways like an Argentine version of a club like Leyton Orient who, after many years away, have got into the first division and have held their own.
“They have done reasonably well and this player has done exceptionally well over the past 18 months.”
The challenge now for Stacqualursi – and something he acknowledged himself at a Finch Farm press conference shortly after arriving at Everton – is to transfer his form to English football and cope quickly with the vast cultural differences, both on and off the pitch.
To this end El Traca has an advantage on the likes of Mauro Boselli, Wigan’s humbled record signing who is back in his native Argentina less than a year after the Latics shelled out £6.5m to bring him to the DW Stadium.
That advantage is his size. Stracquarlursi is certainly not likely to get bullied by the Robert Huths of this world but there is more to coping in the Premier League than just being able to hold your own physically, and Everton fans will hope Stracqualursi is able to adapt.
Vickery added: “The first thing you think of when you assess a South American footballer’s suitability for the Premier League is the physicality, and he is built for English football. That is not going to be a problem. He is also competent on the ground and he scores goals in the air.
“But you have to say there are other questions that he will need to answer and it is nothing to do with this particular player or this transfer. It is just historically there are challenges when you move directly from South America to England.
“Firstly it is just a huge step up. He has already done an interview with the Argentine media and expressed just how astonished he is by Everton’s facilities. I think the expression he used was ‘beyond my wildest dreams’. Imagining what it may be like and being there and seeing it is something else entirely.
“I remember talking to the Brazilian Rodrigo, who Everton signed back in 2002. I was speaking to him when he was back in Brazil being treated for injury and still hoping he had a career at Everton.
“He was just completely overwhelmed by the club, by everything about the place. The size of the club was above and beyond anything he had expected, and he had never seen a club so important to the local community.
“The phrase he kept using was the ‘Hollywood of football’ because of the level of emotion surrounding every single game. He had never seen complete families in the stadium before. He could not get over the sheer size of Everton, the importance of Everton and the drama of the Premier League.
“And I think particularly in the case of this player it will be a similar experience.
“He has been scoring goals at a small club but he is entering a different world and it is a massive opportunity, the sort of thing you obviously don’t turn down when it comes along.”
Indeed, the size of the opportunity is not lost on Stracqualursi himself. The young striker has shown a fantastic attitude so far and has already begun learning English.
He has been training by himself with the Blues fitness staff as he bids to reach the level required and boasted by his teammates after a full pre-season.
If he can match the enthusiasm with which he has spoken about his move to Merseyside on the training pitch, then he won’t be found wanting through application.
And if he can match his commitment to body art then he should prove a roaring success.
More than 20 designs adorn the skin of the Argentine, so what about an Everton tattoo, like a certain Goodison predecessor?
“Maybe,” he joked this week. “We’ll see how things go. Maybe one day that will feel like the right thing to do.”
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