Not every hero has the same story. Leicester’s Argentine centre-forward Leonardo Ulloa cannot be seen dribbling around older, bigger boys on a baby football court on any grainy YouTube videos. Nor are there any retired coaches getting misty eyed on film recounting how they knew the first time they laid eyes on him he would end up a superstar.
After his part in the destruction of Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United on Sunday, the “who is Leo Ulloa?” stories were being written – not in England, but in Argentina. Emerging from anonymity aged 28, his tale is one of patience and incredible perseverance.
Born in General Roca in the Rio Negro province of Argentina, Ulloa played briefly for local team Deportivo Roca as a young boy before being signed by Second Division side CAI, based in the province of Chubut.
When his Leicester team-mates tell him the club have a “tough away trip at the weekend” Ulloa can put that into some sort of sobering perspective. Chubut is 2000km south of Buenos Aires and with 80 per cent of Argentina’s clubs based within a 200km radius of the capital, that means most away games for CAI required a 4000km round trip – 24 hours each way on a team bus.
Nevertheless, it worked, because San Lorenzo, based in Buenos Aires, had excellent scouting links with CAI and they signed him. But Ulloa played only 31 times for the current Copa Libertadores champions and spent time out on loan to Arsenal de Sarandi and Olimpo de Bahia Blanca, where he suffered relegation in 2008.
Spanish Second Division club Castellon then paid €600,000 (£470,000) for him and, finally getting regular starts, he responded by scoring 30 goals in two seasons, earning a €900,000 move to top-flight Almeria.
Leicester City 5 Manchester United 3 player ratings
Leicester City 5 Manchester United 3 player ratings
1/22 Leicester: Kasper Schmeichel
Couldn’t be faulted for the goals, and didn’t have too many saves to make. 5
2/22 Ritchie De Laet
Never stopped working up and down the right flank and set up Jamie Vardy’s goal with a superb through ball after dispossessing Juan Mata. 7
3/22 Liam Moore
Grew into the game after an uncertain start and was a threat at set-pieces. 6
4/22 Wes Morgan 6
A commanding performance from the centre back that helped to keep Robin van Persie quiet for the most part.
5/22 Paul Konchesky
Typically industrious display, with plenty of bursts forward and crunching tackles.
6/22 Esteban Cambiasso
Thundered in the equaliser to make it 3-3, and kept things ticking over in midfield with his accurate passing.
7/22 Danny Drinkwater
Former Manchester United player showed some fantastic vision. 7
8/22 Dean Hammond
Steady in the middle for the Foxes. 6
9/22 David Nugent
Great link-up play with Vardy and Ulloa, and made no mistake from the spot. 8
10/22 Jamie Vardy
Constant source of anguish for the United defence. 9
11/22 Leonardo Ulloa
£8m striker is already up to five goals this season after his impressive double. 8
12/22 Manchester United: David De Gea
Couldn’t have done much for any of the goals, and offered no protection by his threadbare defence. 5
13/22 Marcos Rojo
Struggled against Vardy all afternoon and couldn’t get forward as much as he would have liked. Good pass into Falcao in the build-up to United’s first goal. 5
14/22 Tyler Blackett
Gave the ball away in dangerous areas, and sent off when he conceded a penalty for bringing down Vardy. A nightmare afternoon for the youngster.
15/22 Jonny Evans
Looked reasonably assured before going off injured after half an hour. 5
Lost his head when he unnecessarily fouled Jamie Vardy for the penalty that got Leicester back in the game. Often caught out of position. 5
17/22 Ander Herrera
Took his goal beautifully, but on the back foot for much of the afternoon. 5
18/22 Wayne Rooney
Beautifully weighted pass for Di Maria’s goal, but peripheral for much of the game. Booked for dissent after the Blackett sending off. 5
19/22 Angel Di Maria
Scored stunning goal, and always a threat with his pace and direct running. Taken off for the final quarter of an hour. 6
20/22 Daley Blind
Very comfortable in possession but ultimately couldn’t match the Leicester midfield's intensity. 5
21/22 Robin van Persie
Scored deflected goal early on, but did little else thereafter. 5
22/22 Radamel Falcao
Did superbly to create Robin van Persie’s goal, and so unlucky not to score with volley that hit the bar. Taken off for the final 20 minutes. 6
These are 1990s prices being paid in the 21st century for an honest, hardworking striker who still did not look Premier League-bound, but Ulloa was finally starting to believe in his own ability. Almeria went down in 2011 but he scored 28 goals in 38 games back in the second tier and, early last year, Gus Poyet signed him for Brighton for £2m.
“Everything that didn’t work out for him in Argentina began to work out for him in Europe,” says Rio Negro journalist Cristian Helou, who has watched his rise.
Ulloa’s name still does not create much excitement back home. When Leicester turned over United, the ever-green Esteban Cambiasso stole the headlines in Argentina. The talk around the national team is more of Carlos Tevez being left out of Gerardo Martino’s latest squad than the new manager handing Ulloa a call-up.
There is no fan club straining for the 28-year-old to be picked. In Argentina, Sergio Aguero is adored by the supporters of his first club Independiente, Tevez is a Boca Juniors’ legend, Gonzalo Higuain is one of River Plate’s famous sons and Lionel Messi is immortalised at Newell’s Old Boys. For Ulloa, warm appreciation from first club Deportivo Roca is as good as it gets.
That feeling works both ways. Ulloa made sure he was at the club’s important promotion play-off last season, and whenever he is in Argentina he visits the modest stadium the club shares with two other local sides. “He always goes down to the dressing room and talks to the players,” says club secretary Juan Antonio Martinez.
Seeing the striker who left Argentina via the back door in June 2008 turn up on their television screens six years later mauling United and nearly topping the Premier League’s goal charts can only serve as an inspiration.Reuse content