The 36-year old Boca Juniors striker had never been a feature of the Argentine side until coach Diego Maradona recalled him from 10 years in the international wilderness.
Given that Maradona has used over 100 players in his short time in charge of Argentina, few expected Palermo to retain his place in the squad, until the “miracle of Saint Palermo”.
In the penultimate round of the World Cup qualifiers, with Argentina needing a win against Peru to ensure their place in South Africa, Palermo scored a last-minute winner in the midst of a torrential downpour.
Even so, with five top class forwards already certain of places in the squad, no one suspected Maradona would make room for a sixth at the expense of players like Inter’s Champions League winners, Estenban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti.
The theory is that the slow, lumbering Palermo provides an alternative to Argentina’s short skillful strikers. The reality is probably that Maradona considers him a lucky charm worth keeping around.