LOS MAYORES DIABLOS EN EL INFIERNO: 5 ÍDOLOS DE INDEPENDIENTE

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Desde aquel 1 de Enero de 1905, los pasillos de Independiente se han encontrado atestados de logros prestigiosos y gestas heroicas, perpetrados por algunos de los más brillantes jugadores que han pisado la grama de las canchas argentinas. Caudal permanente e imprescindible para la Selección Nacional, el “riñón del diablo” ha visto nacer, desarrollarse y explotar a una multitud de cracks que han dejado su huella característica de paladar negro y fina estampa en el fútbol local e internacional. Por este motivo, la tarea de elegir apenas a 5 ídolos se presenta tan engorrosa como injusta. 
Ricardo Enrique Bochini:
A pesar de la extensa plantilla de jugadores que integran el Olimpo de fenómenos del “Rey de Copas”, la medalla de oro es siempre otorgada con unanimidad escandalosa. El mejor jugador de la historia del club, el ícono mayor, es y siempre será el “Bocha”. 19 años en Independiente (toda su carrera) le consiguieron al clásico número 10 un halo de amor intransigente hacia la institución. Esta identificación mantuvo viva la llama del romance con la hinchada a través de todas sus coronaciones, en las que siempre fue figura excluyente.
 
Cerebro remarcable, habilidad, viveza criolla, liderazgo permanente, sobriedad, presencia impecable en situaciones límites, asistencias geométricamente impresionantes y, si era necesario, gol. Bochini tenía todo, y por eso fue el capitán del barco del equipo más ganador en la historia del fútbol sudamericano, consiguiendo 5 Libertadores, 2 Intercontinentales, 3 Interamericanas y  4 Campeonatos locales. Con la Selección Nacional su participación fue menos notable, opacado primero por Mario Alberto Kempes y luego por Diego Armando Maradona. No obstante, el reconocimiento del Diego, quien siempre lo enalteció como su máximo ejemplo a seguir, y lo saludó con honores cuando ingresó a la cancha en México 86, donde luego conseguiría el Campeonato Mundial, habla por sí solo del hombre más influyente que hayan observado los fanáticos del fútbol argentino.
Daniel Bertoni: Con su magia y temple a cuestas, Bochini fue el emperador de la época más gloriosa del “Orgullo Nacional”, pero su palmarés se hubiera visto reducido sensiblemente de no ser por la compañía del socio perfecto. Fue en 3 Libertadores, 1 Intercontinental, 3 Interamericanas y 1 Torneo Local que Daniel Bertoni se paró hombro con hombro con el “Bocha”, construyendo interminables paredes y remontando el campo de juego en una dupla maravillosa.
 
Oriundo de Bahía Blanca, Bertoni derrochó poderío ofensivo en Independiente desde 1973 hasta 1978, año en que consiguió su mayor lauro personal. Aquella Copa Mundial fue la primera de Argentina, y tuvo al Diablo de Titular indiscutido como puntero derecho, pero siempre con movilidad. El 3-1 que liquidó la reñida final ante Holanda hizo trascender su idolatría de Avellaneda a todo el país, y confirmó lo que Vicente De La Mata y Antonio Sastre insinuaron en las Copas América de las décadas del ´30 y el ´40, y Jorge Burruchaga reconfirmó en México 86: todos los grandes triunfos de la albi-celeste, requieren de la participación decisiva de los hijos de la Caldera del Diablo.

Arsenio Erico: Esta acotada lista que recorre de manera resumida las páginas doradas del club de Alsina y Bochini contiene a un solo jugador internacional. Desde los albores del profesionalismo en el Río de La Plata, el gigante de Avellaneda se ubicaba en los puestos de privilegio, y esta grandeza tuvo entre sus protagonistas principales a Arsenio Erico. El paraguayo revolucionó el panorama local con su potencia goleadora, hasta el punto de convertirse en el máximo artillero de los torneos de AFA, con 293 anotaciones.
 
Además de ser el goleador histórico del fútbol argentino, el “Saltarín Rojo” (bautizado de esta manera por su afamada e irreproducible técnica de salto en tirabuzón, que lo hacía elevarse por encima de los centrales rivales) fue clave en la consecución de los 2 primeros torneos profesionales de Independiente: el bicampeonato de 1938 y 1939. Sus 12 años en la institución lo convirtieron en una eminencia, y el eterno preferido de la platea femenina.
Antonio Sastre: Ese excelente combinado de comienzos de la era profesional incluyó en sus filas a otro Diablo que rompió paradigmas y dejó boquiabiertas tribunas de todo el continente. El primer polifuncional, un jugador futurista en un ecosistema de tácticas rígidas y soldados con ocupaciones firmemente delimitadas, “Sastrín” jugó en el Rojo desde 1931 hasta 1941, en donde también se alzó con el bicampeonato de 1938-39.
 
El “Cuila” fue volante de marca, defensor, delantero goleador, y hasta arquero. Su versatilidad lo hizo ídolo también en Brasil, y pieza fundamental de la Selección campeona de las Copas América 1937, ´41 y ´47. Sastre integra el Salón de la Fama en el que se encuentran los 24 mejores “players” en la historia del fútbol argentino, y fue definido por el mismísimo César Luis Menotti como el mejor jugador que vio en su vida.
 
Miguel Ángel Santoro: Entre medio de tanta luminaria ofensiva, capacidad goleadora y genialidad puesta al servicio del ataque, los diversos equipos que llenaron de estrellas el escudo de Independiente tuvieron también líderes silenciosos, recios y menos vistosos. De entre todos los hombres que se destacaron de mitad de campo para atrás, emerge el ilustre nombre de Miguel Ángel Santoro. Pepé participó de las primeras conquistas internacionales del “Rey de Copas”, y afirmó su condición de ídolo poniendo siempre el pecho como técnico ante situaciones críticas.

Desde 1962 hasta 1973, Santoro levantó 4 Libertadores, 1 Intercontinental, 1 Interamericana, y 4 Torneos Locales. Su confiabilidad desde la valla, apoyada por su tesón inquebrantable, le ganó a Pepé el título de mejor arquero en la larga historia del Club Atlético Independiente de Avellaneda.
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