Boca Juniors were very close to signing Pedro Gallese for their Copa Libertadores campaign after Esteban Andrada’s injury. In the end, they opted for Bolivian No. 1 Carlos Lampe.
However, hypothetically speaking if Gallese did make the move, he would have been the first Peruvian goalkeeper to play for Boca Juniors, correct?
One Peruvian goalkeeper was able to defend the Xeneizes colours almost 80 years ago. His name was Walter Ormeño, dubbed by some as “Superman” because of his renowned athleticism and diving abilities.
Ormeño is an icon in some parts of Peru, specifically in Cañete where they even have a club named after him. They are the biggest club in the region and named the team after him due to Cañetano scouts being fondly impressed with his diving ability and reflexes as a goalkeeper, even though he doesn’t really have any relations with the city of Cañete.
His career began at Santiago Barranco, which is based in the district of the same name. Ormeño moved there and earned his first chance at said club. He immediately impressed as it was said that he stopped anything that hit the target. Santiago Barranco is the most important team in the district and while not a marquee name in Peruvian football, it was a key start to a legendary career.
Afterwards, Ormeño tried out for Universitario as he was invited to a practice session because he was friends with Arturo Fernández, the brother of the iconic Teodoro “Lolo” Fernández, who was in charge of the club during that time.
The three Fernandez brothers were all at training. Arturo, Lolin and Lolo all treated Ormeño like another kid who tried out for Universitario. They all practised penalties and were profoundly confident the point where they offered the young goalkeeper a soft drink for every penalty he saved. In the end, it was a regretful bet as he was able to save a few.
This convinced Arturo to sign Ormeño, who started as a backup to Julio Saco.
Before Universitario, Ormeño actually trialled at Mariscal Sucre. While they are no longer a marquee name in Peruvian football, they managed to win two league titles in the Primera Division in 1944 and 1953. They were also responsible for kick-starting the careers of Alberto Gallardo and Fernando Mellan.
Ormeño eventually earned his top-flight debut against Alianza Lima, which was a bit ironic given that he was originally from La Victoria prior to moving to Barranco. This was in 1946, and the shot-stopper got off to a flying start, as he immediately took advantage of his chance after Julio Saco’s injury and quickly won himself a spot in the Merengues starting 11.
After winning his spot, Ormeño would go onto win two titles with Universitario in 1946 and 1949 before moving to Colombia, which was at the beginning of the el Dorado era.
For those who aren’t familiar with el Dorado, the Colombian federation was suspended by FIFA at that time, and the nation’s teams took it upon themselves to do whatever they wanted. As a result, plenty of footballers around the continent joined clubs in Colombia, the most notable being Alfredo Di Stefano at Millonarios before his move to Real Madrid.
As for Ormeño, he played for Huracan de Medellin for two years. They no longer exist, but at the time, they were one of the least successful clubs in the country and was the only Peruvian on the team, contrary to his countrymen who always had a partner from the same nation in Colombia.
Guillermo Delgado did play for Huracan, but it was after Ormeño had left for Argentina. However, Ormeño first returned to Peru to play for Mariscal Sucre.
It must have been a somewhat awkward move to Mariscal as they didn’t give a chance to Ormeño when he was young. He only spent a year at Mariscal Sucre before Boca Juniors snapped him up in 1952.
This was perhaps the first mishap of Ormeño’s career. He made the right decision in going to Boca Juniors, although the ex-Universitario shot-stopper was inconsistent and didn’t perform to the standard he set in Peru. His most memorable moment, however, came in the Superclásico when he saved a penalty in the Superclasico against River Plate’s Walter Gomez.
After a rather shaky spell at Boca, Ormeño moved to Rosario Central. While he certainly wasn’t a disaster at with the Xeinezes, Ormeño holds the honour of being the only Peruvian goalkeeper to represent the Argentine giants. Since Gallese did not seal his loan move to Buenos Aires, Ormeño will hold that record for a while longer.
After a somewhat forgettable spell in the capital, Ormeño saw an improvement at Rosario Central, perhaps due to the lowered expectations. He came up against the likes of Omar Sivori, who was one of the better forwards in Argentinean football at the time.
At Boca, Ormeño didn’t receive a tonne of minutes. At Rosario, his playing time increased. The number of appearances is unknown, but it is said that he is remembered by “Canalla” historians and while he was technically a backup, he stood out when stepping onto the pitch.
After Rosario Central, Ormeño’s career went all over the place. He crossed the divide and joined Alianza Lima, but didn’t get chances and the manager Roberto Scarone recommended that Ormeño would be best suited to Mexican football.
From there, Ormeño joined Club America before spending a few years as a journeyman in Mexico, then enjoyed a brief spell in Montreal.
Ormeño stayed in football after retirement by pursuing a managerial career, although he never coached in Peru. He mainly stuck to North and Central America.
To top it off, Ormeño was said to be a lovely man. It’s still possible to prove this, too. At 91 years of age, Ormeño is still in Mexico living his best life. Back in his homeland, he is still regarded as an iconic keeper who left a mark in Peruvian football history.