Aussie teen's connection to Lamela
When De Niese, then 13, first went to play for Argentine giants River Plate, Lamela – four years his elder – sounded out the Aussie to teach him how to speak English.
De Niese, 19, knew no Spanish at the time and Eduardo Santomil (a coach of De Niese’s at the River Plate Academy in Australia) joked that both could learn new languages off each other.
“When I first came to River Plate, Lamela was just in the reserves, then he pushed up to the first team and I got to watch him for a full season,” De Niese said, recalling the moment he met the soon-to-be Argentine superstar.
“I was still going through the youth so we didn’t cross paths often. Lamela comes back to River Plate in the off-season sometimes, to say hello to everyone at the club, the coaches and his ex-teammates.”
Lamela, 23, was part of the Tottenham team that recently beat Sydney FC 1-0 in front of over 70,000 fans at ANZ Stadium.
The day before the game, at an open training session, the 11-time Argentina international was asked if it was true that De Niese taught him how to speak English.
Surrounded by a throng of Tottenham fans, Lamela was signing autographs but still had time to shoot back a knowing smile.
De Niese, who cracked the Los Millonarios reserve side this season, says there is a buzz around the club about another famous Argentine.
“At the moment the first team and reserves have no games for about a month due to the Copa America that’s coming up," he said.
"I’ve been playing regularly in the reserves and training against the first team. Pablo Aimar is back and it’s good to see such a talented player like him too."