Last Saturday’s victory over the Strikers saw Venezuelan-born Diego Restrepo make his official debut as the Rowdies goalkeeper, making four crucial saves to push Tampa Bay over Ft. Lauderdale 2-1. Restrepo’s character and composure showed at Lockhart Stadium, staying confident even after the Strikers had cut the Rowdies lead to one.
“I would have liked to get a shutout on Saturday, but we were very happy with the win,” stated Restrepo. “After they scored we felt the pressure, but it was very important that we closed down our goal and picked up the three points.”
Restrepo joined the Rowdies after spending two years in South America, where he played for Colombia’s America de Cali and Venezuela’s Deportivo Tachira. His experiences in those leagues have made him the goalkeeper he is today.
“I learned to be confident with my feet, which is not something common with many keepers,” he explained. “Playing in South America gave me the experience that I always wanted to have, while also helping me in moments where I am under pressure. When I arrived to the Rowdies I was amazed with the passion and history that this club has.”
Joining the Rowdies late in the preseason set him back as he had very few matches to demonstrate why he deserved the start. Player-assistant coach Stuart Campbell praised his constant effort at practice to demonstrate his attributes.
“Diego is an excellent professional both on and off the field,” commented Campbell. “His experience really shows in tough situations like last Saturday and we are pleased to have him on the squad.”
Knowing a mistake could cost him a place in the starting XI, Restrepo does not fear the pressure nor does he mind it.
“I believe I play better under pressure,” explained the Venezuelan. “I want to demonstrate to my teammates, coaches and fans that I am ready for this position and that they can trust me as their goalkeeper.”
After coming up with an important win in Ft Lauderdale, Tampa Bay will then return to action at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday, May 4, when they host FC Edmonton at 7:30 p.m. For information on 2013 season tickets or individual tickets contact the front office at 813-287-1539 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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