COPA LIBERTADORES

Ruggeri: “When I went from Boca to River, they set my house on fire"

El exjugador argentino, Óscar Ruggeri.

Norberto Duarte

AFP

The ex-Argentinean international recalled a horrific incident which occurred after he switched from Boca to their arch rivals River Plate.

Ex-Argentinean international Óscar Ruggeri, who played for Real Madrid for one season in 1989-90, gave an interview to Spanish radio this Tuesday ahead of the Copa Libertadores final between Boca Juniors and River in Madrid on Sunday.

The violent pre-match incidents in Buenos Aires, which led to the cancellation of the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final and its subsequent move to Madrid, brought the uglier side of the intense rivalry between Boca and River to the world's attention.

And in the interview with Spain's Onda Cero radio channel, Ruggeri, who played for both Buenos Aires clubs during his career, recalled a horrific incident in which a group of Boca hooligan fans (known as Barras Bravas in Latin America) tried to set fire to his house.

“I played at River and Boca and I had a great time at both clubs,” he said. “When I went from Boca to River, they set my house on fire with my parents inside.”

Ruggeri spoke about how the Barras Bravas would demand things from players and would threaten to harm their families if they did not do what was asked, in an attempt to instil fear and intimidate them.

After the arson incident at his house, however, Ruggeri bravely went to face the head of the Boca Barras Bravas to say that he would not be intimidated.

“When they burned down the house I went to see the head of the Boca Barras Bravas, I faced him because he controlled everything and I told him it was the last thing that I was going to endure."

Fond memories of time in Spain

After three years at River, the ex-Argentinean defender headed for Spain, where he played for Logroñés (1988-89) and Real Madrid (1989-90). And in the interview, he recalled fond memories of his time in La Rioja, Spain’s famous wine region, while playing with Logroñés, a club which ceased operations in 2009 because of financial troubles.

“One of the best years of my sporting career was spent at Logroñés. It was there where I started to drink red wine. I had such a great time,” said Ruggeri, who also spoke of his time at Real Madrid and had kind words for current president Florentino Perez.

“Florentino is an amazing guy. If I’d had him as president, I would have played [at Real Madrid] a couple of years more.”

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