Far in the depths of the Argentinian second division, there lived a legend. Tomas ‘the Fork’ Carlovich was a semi-mythical player from the 70s and 80s. He was odd, but he was brilliant.
Old-timers of Rosario are still having inspired conversations about Carlovich’s talent, and they are not alone. His prowess was witnessed by Argentina managers like Cesar Luis Menotti and Jose Pekerman, and even Maradona testifies to the natural-born skill of ‘El Trinche’.
1993 marked the year when Maradona became a part of the Newell’s Old Boys. When he was signing the contract, a reported called him the greatest player in the world, to which Maradona replied with a humble answer: “The Greatest of them all is already here. His name is Carlovich.”
What’s most interesting is that neither he nor Lionel Messi, who was born a mile away from where Carlovich resided, saw ‘El Trinche’ actually play. The legendary reputation preceded Tomas Carlovich. But who was he, exactly?
Tomas ‘the Fork’ Carlovich
Nobody remembers the origins of the nickname ‘the Fork’ – not even the bearer himself, and it’s just one of the many mysterious details about the 6-foot tall player who was a genius.
Sadly, he never really got along with the times. While football was acquiring a physical approach and focusing on speed, Carlovich was a slow-paced, intelligent player who possessed an unprecedented vision of the game.
In one of his interviews, he said that he could clearly see the next few moves unfold in front of him just as he was receiving the ball. Subsequently, that quality made him a precise passer and a mind-blowing dribbler.
It wasn’t about tricks or accuracy, however. It was about ball control and vision. Carlovich could see the ball reach a teammate way before anyone else. Combined with his perfect 40-yard passes, the opponent’s team was being disassembled in real-time.
One of the urban legends tells about a time when ‘El Trinche’ was controlling the ball for a whopping 10 minutes: no passes, no strikes, no fouls – just Carlovich driving the other team crazy.
But Tomas played to his own tune, hence only two games of top football in his career. He was hard to understand and all over the place. Not only did he miss training sessions and was late to games, but the bus had to make a detour and come by his house to ensure his presence.
One particular story tells of Carlovich, 19 at the time and trying to get into the first team at Rosario Central, who came early and sat alone in a bus that was supposed to take the team to a different city, waited for just 10 minutes and then wandered off, subsequently joining an amateur football game under a made-up name.
Being a part of Rosario’s local team in a match against the Argentina national team, Carlovich humiliated the opponent and brought Rosario a 3-0 victory. When Menotti, the Argentina manager, asked him to play in friendly matches later on, ‘the Fork’ said that he was cut off by a flood after going fishing and that he couldn’t come.
Although initially not regretting his sole focus on nothing but the game itself, a few years after his retirement Carlovich had, in fact, become more hesitant to discuss how his career could have gone differently. But hypotheticals aside, this mythical player definitely inspired the whole armada of Argentina players and ignited the hearts of local fans for decades to come.
Do you remember Tomas “the Fork” Carlovich? What do you think about him?
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