FRISCO, Texas – It only takes a few minutes of conversation with Dario Sala to realize the FC Dallas backup goalkeeper has soccer connections reaching around the globe.
When Inter Milan visit Pizza Hut Park to face FC Dallas on Thursday night for an international friendly, the Argentine keeper is looking forward to seeing three of his fellow countrymen who play for the epic Italian side: Esteban Cambiasso, Diego Milito and Javier Zanetti.
The FCD keeper has always kept up with Cambiasso’s career, whom he knows from their time back in the Argentine Primera División. Cambiasso played for two of Sala's former clubs, Independiente and River Plate, stays which set the stage for his return to Europe in 2002 with Real Madrid.
“It was a big spot to fill [at Real Madrid when Ronaldo left], so he came back to Argentina and played really well for Independiente," Sala recalled. "Then, he moved to River and went back to Europe more mature. He had really grown up as a player. It’s unfortunate with the year that he had that he didn’t go to the World Cup. That was a shame.”
The 35-year-old keeper also knows Milito and older brother Gabriel, who currently plays for FC Barcelona from their days together in South America.
“Diego was playing for Racing Club and we were with Independiente," he remembered. "It was funny that Gabriel’s team beat him really bad. That happened in the Champions League, when Barcelona and Inter had to face each other. They’re both pretty competitive. Diego has better feet and better skill. That’s why Gabriel is a defender. They’re both unbelievable players and really good people.”
The seasoned keeper also has good things to say about Zanetti.
“I played for his foundation in a charity game back in Argentina. He feeds 200 kids every day out of his pocket,” Sala said. “He played in Buenos Aires for Banfield and I played for his rival, Lanús. He has had a quite good career. To everyone in Argentina that is a professional player, he is someone they can look up to and is a role model for all soccer players about how to be successful in other countries. To represent Argentina and Europe that well is impressive.”
For Sala, who is FCD’s longest-tenured player having been with the club since 2005, he still can’t believe the reigning UEFA Champions League winners will be playing on the same field he has played on for nearly five seasons.
“I never imagined it," he said. "We didn’t even play in the CONCACAF Champions League. It’s amazing. This is the biggest international match that we’ve ever had.”