Gonzalo Gerardo Higuaín (Spanish pronunciation: [ɡonˈθalo iɣwaˈin]; born 10 December 1987) is an Argentine professional footballer. He was born in France, attaining Argentine citizenship in 2007, and now holding dual nationality. He currently plays as a striker for Real Madrid and the Argentine national team. He is the son of former footballer Jorge Higuaín.
Higuaín was born in Brest, France, the son of the Argentine former footballer Jorge Higuaín, who was playing for Stade Brestois 29 as an expatriate. Therefore, he holds dual French-Argentine nationality. Having left the country at the age of 10 months, he did not return to France until the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Even though he does not speak French, he holds a French passport because his father was naturalized French. He successfully applied for Argentine nationality in January 2007.
Higuaín started playing in the youth teams and made his debut with River Plate in a 2–1 defeat against Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata on 29 May 2005. On 12 February 2006, he scored his first league goal in a 3–1 victory over Banfield. Higuaín ended the 2005–06 season with five goals in 12 appearances.
Following his brace in the Superclásico derby against Boca Juniors on 8 October 2006, River Plate manager Daniel Passarella declared that Higuain had an “enormous future” and was “destined for superstardom.” In the following season, he scored eight goals in 17 league matches.
In December 2006, Spanish club Real Madrid signed Higuaín for €13 million, after River Plate had earlier turned down a €10 million offer for the 19-year-old striker. His debut came on January 11, 2007 against Real Betis in the second round of the Copa del Rey in Seville. His presentation at the League came 3 days later, on January 14, 2007, against Real Zaragoza at home. Higuain was involved in the creation of numerous scoring chances and in the assistance for the only goal, which earned Madrid the victory. His first goal with Real came on February 24 when the team faced Atletico Madrid in the Madrid derby, scoring the tying goal (1-1) at the Estadio Vicente Calderón. Later on the season, Higuaín showed an impressive performance by scoring a last minute goal on a league match against RCD Espanyol to earn his team a 4-3 victory when the tie was rampant on the scoreboard. However, during his first season in the Bernabeú, Higuaín arose some doubts over his performance due to his lack of goals.
During the 2007-08 season, Higuaín faced a rather intermittent performance. Yet, during the last stages of the league he managed to consolidate an impressive display. He first scored a last minute goal to earn his team a victory in a 2-1 comeback against Osasuna, which allowed Real Madrid to be mathematically crowned League Champions for the second consecutive year. Four days later, Pipita arose to the spotlight once more by scoring the 3rd goal of a 4-1 trashing over Barcelona in El Clásico. This performance was particularly praised due to Higuaín scoring his goal barely 57 seconds after coming in from the bench.
In the 2008-09 season Higuaín was offered the chance to be a starter due to the serious injury suffered by the Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy. On April 21, 2009, he accounted another great performance when he defined the match against Getafe with a goal in the last minute, giving Real Madrid a 3-2 victory which enabled the team to follow the trail of Josep Guardiola´s Barcelona. In August 2008, Higuaín scored the winner in Madrid’s victory over Valencia in the Spanish Supercup. Shortly afterwards, he scored all four goals in a 4-3 win against Málaga. Because of this, he started to gain international recognition, at the same time he got to be one of the leading goalscorers of the Spanish League, alongside his Barcelona counterpart, Samuel Eto’o. That season, the striker was devoted as one of the great promises of world football in the wake of spectacular games, and particularly dazzling last-minute goals. Higuaín ended the season with 22 league goals, 24 in all competitions, shining alongside longtime soccer stars like Diego Forlán, David Villa and Thierry Henry.
The 2009-10 season saw Higuaín become Real’s top goalscorer with 27 league goals, 29 in total, being at the same time the Spanish League’s 2nd top goalscorer, behind only to Lionel Messi but suprassing Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimovic and even his fellow teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.
In June 2010, Real Madrid extended Higuaín’s contract until 2016. On October 23, 2010, he scored Real Madrid’s 5200th league goal, against Racing Santander on a 6-1 trashing by the Whites. On November 4 of the same year, Gonzalo enters the history of Real Madrid by being the author of the club’s 700th goal in the Champions League.
On the first weeks of December 2010, Higuaín was diagnosed with a herniated lumbar disc, and was suggested by Real’s medical staff to have it operated. On January 5 2011, Real Madrid announced he would finally undergo surgery at the Department of Neurological Surgery of Chicago’s Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine under the command of Dr. Richard G. Fessler, M.D.The surgery took place on January 11, and Higuaín was discharged from the hospital the next day following a successful operation. He is expected to spend at least three months away from the field in recovery process.
Higuaín initially rejected calls from both the Argentine and French national teams, claiming at the time he was undecided for which country he would prefer to play, before choosing Argentina. Higuaín was called up by the Argentina Olympic squad for a friendly match against Guatemala in February 2008, and scored two goals in his debut as Argentina won 5–0, though the match was not officially recognized by FIFA as “A” international matches.
Higuaín was selected for Argentina by coach Diego Maradona for the last 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification games against Peru and Uruguay. He scored his first goal on his full debut, a 49th minute strike during a 2–1 win over Peru on 10 October 2009. He netted his second goal for Argentina in the 1-0 win over Germany at the Allianz Arena in Munich on 3 March 2010, right on the stroke of half-time, pouncing on a mistake made by German goalkeeper Rene Adler, in which Higuaín tapped into an open net from about 25 yards out. Following Argentina’s qualification, Higuaín was included in the squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He scored a hat-trick in Argentina’s 4–1 win over South Korea in their second group match, becoming the third Argentinian to score a hat-trick in the World Cup finals, after Guillermo Stábile in 1930 and Gabriel Batistuta in 1994 and 1998, and the first player to score a hat-trick in the tournament since 2002. His goal in the 3–1 defeat of Mexico in the Second Round took him to a total of four, and he remained one of the top scorers for Argentina in the competition.
Shortly after a disappointing World Cup campaign, on September 7, 2010, Higuaín scored in a friendly match against newly crowned world champions Spain making it 2-0, a game that ended 4-1.
Higuaín is one of only three foreign-born players to have played for Argentina in a FIFA World Cup, along with Pedro Arico Suárez and Constantino Urbieta Sosa.