Football (fútbol) is one of the most popular recreational sports in Colombia. As a football-loving nation, Colombia has produced some of the soccer greats that have been known the world over for their skills and individual contribution to the sport. Some of these names have become synonymous with soccer itself.
Known as Los Cafeteros (The Coffee Growers), the Colombian National Football Team is managed by the FCF (Federacion Colombiana de Futbol), which was founded back in 1924. The FCF officially joined FIFA in 1936 and is also a member of CONMEBOL, the South American Football Association. The team became a force to be reckoned with during the 80s and 90s, when it qualified for the World Cup three times in a row. Influx of cash from a supportive drug trade enabled the team to develop strong players and winning tactics. This period was a time when players became recognized all over the world, when Valderrama wigs were sported throughout the 1994 World Cup, and those at home watching were warned not to imitate Higuita’s on-field gymnastics.
Colombia marked the first time it qualified in a World Cup tournament in 1962, but it took 28 years for it to qualify again in Italy. A dark chapter of Colombian football was written after the 1994 World Cup when the team lost to the United States 2-1. Ten days after the team returned to Colombia, three people approached Andres Escobar, one of the best defenders in South America, and shot him a dozen times in front of his girlfriend. It turned out the three lost a lot of money when Colombia was eliminated and blamed Escobar for scoring his own goal during the first half of the match. One hundred twenty thousand people attended Escobar’s funeral while the murderer was eventually released in 2005 after only 11 years in prison. Several other notable footballers were murdered and crippled for non-football related incidents during the last 20 years, most notably Albeiro Uzurriaga in 2004, adding to the tragedy of Colombian football.
Colombia has only won the Copa America once in 2001, which the country hosted, and were runner ups in the 1975 Copa America which was won by Peru. The team’s most legendary moment was its 5-0 victory over Argentina in 1993. The team is considered the champion with the best performance in Copa America’s history, playing and winning all six matches in 2001, scoring 11 goals and taking none in turn. It also possessed the three best strikers in the tournament, with Ernesto Diaz’s 4 goals in 1975, Arnoldo Iguaran’s 4 goals in 1987 and Victor Aristizabal’s 6 goals in 2001.
The most successful teams in the nation’s history are Bogota’s Millionarios and Cali’s America de Cali, who each have 13 titles to their names. Other popular clubs are Medellin’s Atletico Nacional, Bogota’s Independiente Santa Fe, Tunja’s Chico and Junior de Barranquilla.
Recent misfortune struck when head coach Hernán Darío Gómez resigned after being accused of assaulting a woman in August 2011. Nevertheless, the national team forges ahead with its dreams of glory during the next couple of years. It still stands as a symbol of pride for Colombia against the negative stereotypes surrounding the country, and maintains a loyal and passionate fan base both in national and international tournaments..
Carlos Alberto Valderrama Palacio
Valderrama, who was born on September 2, 1961, is known for his blond Afro hair, his passes and timing assists and his nickname “El Pibe” meaning The Kid. This high-caliber central midfielder was a member of the national team during the 1990s and represented Colombia in 111 full internationals between 1985 and 1998, scoring 11 goals. This makes Valderrama the most capped player in the country’s history, choosing to dominate his pitch with sublime first touches, intuitive situational awareness and a variety of passing which allows him to play delightful killer balls. After 22 years of playing, he finally retired during a 2004 Barranquilla tribute match, where many of South America’s greatest footballers honored him, including Diego Maradona, an Argentine legend. In 2006, a bronze statue of El Pibe that was 22 feet tall was installed outside the Eduardo Santos Stadium in Santa Marta, Valderrama’s hometown.
He started his senior football career in 1981 with Union Magdelana and moved to play for two other local clubs until 1987. The following year he had stints with a French club, Montpellier and also played for Spain’s Real Valladolid as well as with US soccer clubs Tampa Bay Mutiny, Colorado Rapids and Miami Fusion.
Nicknamed El Loco (The Madman), this crazy goalkeeper would dribble outside his 16-box and score goals in penalties or free kicks. Jose Rene Higuita Zapata was born on August 27, 1966 in Medellin, and is famous for inventing the scorpion kick, a maneuver where the player flips his body forward and hits the ball with his upraised heels. Higuita unveiled this difficult and unconventional technique for the first time in public during a friendly game against England in 1995 to block a kick at goal by Jamie Redknapp of Liverpool FC. He is also the third among the all-time top-scoring goalkeepers in football. However, he had a bit of misfortune during the 1994 World Cup when he was arrested during his visit with incarcerated drug lord Pablo Escobar, necessitating his replacement with Oscar Córdoba. Higuita is now a goalkeeper coach for his former club Real Valladolid.
Starting his youth soccer career with Millionarios, Higuita had done the rounds of local soccer clubs from 1985 and had stints abroad. His first call up for the Colombia national football squad was in 1987 and had been capped 68 times and even managed to score eight goals.
Freddy Eusebio Rincón Valencia
This strong midfielder, who was born on August 14, 1966, played 84 games from 1990 to 2001 for the Colombia national football team and scored 17 goals. Freddy Rincon was born in Buenvantura, Valle del Cauca, Colombia. Rincón was at the heart of the terrific duo of Rincon-Asprilla that led the team past Argentina to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. His most memorable goal occurred during the game in Milan against West Germany in the 1990 World Cup, where he sent the ball between the opposing goalie’s leg, Bodo Illgner, to tie the game at 1-1. After participating in the 1990, 1994 and 1998 World Cups, Rincón retired and is now coaching in Brazil.
His 18-year professional football career began in 1986 with Atletico Buenaventura. He’s had stints with local and foreign clubs including Real Madrid. He also played for clubs in Naples, Sao Paulo and Brazil.
Faustino Hernan Asprilla Hinestroza
A talented striker, Tulua-native Asprilla was born on November 10, 1969, and played in Parma and Newcastle. Called “El Pulpo” (The Octopus) by his fans due to his enormous appetite, Asprilla was named the sixth best player in the world by FIFA in 1996. He scored 20 goals in 57 matches between 1993 and 2001 for the Colombian national football team and participated in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups as well as the 1992 Summer Olympics. Asprilla’s most unforgettable moment was his hat-trick for Newcastle during the 1997-87 Champion’s League, leading to a 3-2 victory over Barcelona. He is known to perform a ragged cartwheel after each goal and once appeared naked in a Colombian magazine as well as a magazine in Italy, thrilling millions of women.
In his 16-year professional football career he had short stints in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Chile and in his home country. However, after he left Estuadiantes de la Plata in 2004, there was a rumor that he was set to join a soccer club in the Middle East although there were no official news about this move.
Leonel de Jesus Álvarez Zuleta
A tough defensive midfielder, he played for the Colombia national football team over a hundred times from 1985 to 1995, Remedios native Álvarez was born on July 30, 1965 and is the second most capped player in the country. Known for his intense physical defense on the pitch, he appeared for the national team in both the 1990 and 1994 World Cups in a total of seven games, as well as playing in Copa América in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1995. Alvarez once played for Veracruz of Mexico and Real Valladolid of Spain and is now the assistant coach of the national team. His professional football career began in 1983 with Independiente Medellin and had also played for Dallas Burn and New England Revolution between 1998 and 2001. He has been promoted as head coach of the Colombian national football team in September 2011 after former head coach Hernan Bolillo Gomez resigned.
Adolfo Jose Valencia Mosquera
Born on February 6, 1968 in Buenaventura, Valencia is a striker who played for seven different countries – Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, United States, China and Venezuela. Valencia has represented his home country at two FIFA World Cups in 1994 and 1998. He earned the nickname El Tren (The Train) because of his powerful physique, which he put to good use in scoring against the United States and Romania during the 1994 World Cup. He was Colombia’s all-time topscorer in the World Cup, together with Bernardo Redin. He has been capped 37 times and has 14 goals to his name, and debuted with the national team on July 31, 1992.
Ortiz, from Tumaco, Colombia was born on March 26, 1952 and is Colombia’s best player during the 70′s and early 80′s, having played 49 times for the Colombia national team and scoring 12 goals. He is as popular as Carlos Valderrama, participating during the 1972 Summer Olympics and the 1975, 1979 and 1983 Copa America. Ortiz possesses an amazing mix of speed and technique to excel in dribbling and fast play, much like Pele, Maradona and Ronaldinho. A graduate of the youth soccer system of Millionaries, he played only for three local clubs during his senior career, joining the senior side of Millionarios for seven seasons, before playing for Deportivo Cali from 1980 to 1982 and joining America de Cali for the 1983 up to 1988 seasons.
Andres Escobar Saldarriaga
The captain of the Colombia national soccer team during the 1994 World Cup, Escobar was born on March 13, 1967 in Medellin and gained the nickname, “The Gentleman of Football”. He started with the youth soccer system of Atletico Nacional in 1985 at age 18 and played youth soccer for two seasons. He graduated to the senior side and stayed with the club for two seasons before he joined Young Boys for one season. He returned to Atletico Nactional in 1990 and was with the club until 1994. He got his first call up for the national squad in 1988 and had been capped 50 times. Gambling and drugs were rampant in Colombia and inadvertently huge money was at stake during international games. Escobar became a victim of this social ill, which ended his football career at the tender age of 27. He was killed by Colombian drug lords on July 2, 1994, when they blamed him for causing the huge bettors to lose large sums of money on gambling during the 1994 World Cup. Today, there are statues around Colombia in remembrance of their football hero.
Oscar Eduardo Córdoba Arce
Cordoba hails from Cali, in Valle, Colombia where he was born on February 3, 1970. He acted as a stand-in goalkeeper for the national team after Rene Higuita was arrested. During the 1994 World Cup, he was the goalkeeper when Escobar accidentally scored on his own team. Nevertheless, he started in every game of that tournament and conceded only two goals. Córdoba is one of the best goalkeepers in the Americas and the most capped goalkeeper in his own nation’s football history with over 70 appearances. He acted more like a field defender, using his skill to close spaces quickly and make astonishing leaps for saves. He also made accurate passes with the ball and restarted the action immediately. Starting his senior football career in 1988 with Atletico Nacional, Cordoba had stints with several Colombian soccer clubs and also has stints playing for clubs in Buenos Aires, Italy and Turkey. He rejoined Millionarios in 2008 and announced his retirement from professional football on December 2009.
Arnoldo Alberto Iguarán Zuñiga
Nicknamed “El Guajiro” (The Peasant), Iguarán was born in Riohacha, Colombia on January 18, 1957, and is known for scoring the most number of goals in Copa America’s history with 10 goals in 1979, 1983, 1987, 1989 and 1991. He is also the all-time leading goalscorer for the Colombia national football team, with 25 goals in 68 games between 1979 and 1993. He spent his senior football club career in Cucuta Deportivo, Deportivo Tachira, Deportivo Tolima and Millionarios from 1978 to 1997. After his retirement, his brother Camilo founded a football academy in his honor.
Luis Enrique Martinez Rodriguez was born on July 11, 1982. He is a starting goalkeeper for the Colombia national football team for Copa America 2011, replacing David Ospina who has suffered a facial injury. Neco acquired his nickname from his town of birth Necocli and has collected ten caps in eight years. He is currently signed in with Once Caldas and called back by coach Hernan Dario Gomez to the national team after a three-year absence for an international friendly match against Bolivia on August 2010. Martinez once scored a goal by striking directly from a long distance over the head of the opposing goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak in 2006. Starting his senior football career in 2001 at Envigado, he had played for five other clubs, including Turkish club Sakaryaspor and was on loan to another Turkish club, Manisaspor before he joined Once Caldas.
Barabacoas native Castillo was born on May 5, 1978 and is goalkeeping for the Deportivo Independiente Medellin where he is contracted to play for five seasons. A member of the senior side of the Colombia national football squad during the 2004 Copa America, he is also part of the team during the 2010 friendly games, 2011 Copa America and the qualifying matches for CONMEBOL 2014.
Mario Alberto Yepes Diaz
The captain of the Colombian national football team since 2008, Yepes was born on January 13, 1976 in Cali, Colombia. He currently plays as a defender for Italian club AC Milan. Considered one of the most secure and reliable defenders in the world, he has played a total of 822 games for the national team since debuting in 2001 and has scored 4 goals. Yepes has also participated in the 2001 Copa America wherein Colombia emerged victorious, as well as the 1999 and 2007 games. He excels in bringing the ball up during extreme situations and can help the team from both sides of the field.
His senior career began in 1994 when he joined Cortulua. Playing for two local clubs for five seasons, he was scouted to play with clubs outside Colombia and had stints in River Plate in Buenos Aires, in France for FC Nantes and Paris Saint-Germain FC and Chievo in Italy before joining his current Italian club.
Aquivaldo Mosquera Romaña
Born in Apartado, Colombia on June 22, 1981, Mosquera is currently a defender for Club America of Mexico. He has been called up for the Colombia national soccer team multiple times beginning in 2005, including acting as captain of the first half of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers and several friendly matches. Overall he has been capped 20 times. He previously won two Mexican Championships, a CONCACAF Champions’ Cup and a Copa Nissan Sudamericana while playing for C.F. Pachuca. He was a Balon de Oro recipient during the 2006-2007 season.
Luis Amaranto Perea Mosquera
Perea was born on January 30, 1979 and hails from Turbo, Colombia. He is currently a central defender for Atletico Madrid in the Spanish first division. Possessing outstanding stamina and pace, he can also adapt at right back. He has been an international since 2003, debuting during the 2006 World Cup qualifiers in a 0-4 loss against Bolivia and has earned 57 caps. Perea has also appeared during the 2007 and 2011 Copa America tournaments, as well as 30 league matches during the UEFA Champions League.
Cristian Eduardo Zapata Valencia
Zapata was born on September 30, 1986 in the town of Padilla, and is considered one of the best defenders in Italian Serie A. He started at the youth soccer system of local club Deportivo Cali before joining the senior side in 2004. After one season he started playing for Italian club Udinese as center back in 2005 and stayed for six seasons, making 152 game appearances. He is currently contracted with Spanish club Villareal CF for the start of the 2011 season as defender. Zapata was a member of Colombian U-20 team during the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, but was injured in the first FIFA World Cup qualifying match. He has made 12 appearances for the Colombia national football team since his call up to the senior side in 2007.
Pablo Estifer Armero
A defender for Udinese, Armero was born on November 2, 1986 in Tumaco, Colombia. He started youth soccer with America de Cali before moving to the club’s senior side in 2004 and played for the club for four seasons, making a total of 108 game appearances and scoring six goals. In 2009 he joined Palmeiras in Brazil for one season. Armero has previously played for Colombian U-17 during the 2003 World Cup. Known for his mobility, powerful runs, solid dribbling, strength and physicality, these traits got him promoted to the senior side of the Colombia national football squad and received his first cap for the senior side in a 5-2 victory over Venezuela. From then on he has achieved a spot for the national team as starting left back.
Juan Camilo Zúñiga Mosquera
Born in Chigorodo, Colombia on December 14, 1985, Zúñiga plays for Italian club Napoli as a defender. He begun his senior football career with Atletico Nacional in 2005 and moved to Italian club AC Siena in 2008. Called up to the Colombia national football squad in 2005 he participated in the 2005 World Youth Cup before advancing to the senior side of the national team that same year. Because of his attacking nature, he is compared with fullbacks Roberto Carlos and Cafu by the Italian Press.
Jose Yulian Anchico Patiño
Hailing from Cucuta, Colombia, Anchico was born on May 28, 1984. He is a product of the youth football system of Deportes Talima. In 2003 he was already on the senior side of the club where he played until 2007, kicking a total of 21 goals in 168 appearances. He joined Santa Fe as a midfielder in 2008 and was sent on loan to Mexican club CF Pachuca in 2011. Anchico was part of the Colombian U-20 squad and was called up to the senior side in 2005.
Juan David Valencia
Born in Medellin on January 15, 1986, this midfielder for Junior de Barranquilla. Starting with the youth system of Independiente Madellin, he moved to the club’s senior side in 2004. After four seasons he played for Venezuela’s FC Caracas for one season before returning home to play for one season with CF Deportivo Atletico Huila. Valencia scored his first ever league goal with Caracas over rival Unión Atlético Maracaibo. He then moved back to his starting club and stayed for two seasons. He signed up with Junior de Barranquilla at the start of the 2011 season. He has also been in the starting line up for all the club matches during the 2008 Copa Libertadores, scoring a goal in a 1-1 draw versus the Brazilian Cruzeiro Esporte Clube. His call up to be part of the Colombia national football squad came in 2010. He has earned two caps so far.
Juan Guillermo Cuadrado Bello
A Udinese midfielder, Cuadrado was born on May 26, 1988 in the town of Necocli although he grew up in Tumaco. Cuadrado can play right back and right midfielder. His youth career was spent first with Atletico Uraba and the Independiente Medellin. After graduating to the senior side for the 2008-2009 season, he signed up with Udinese for the start of the 2009 season. Currently he is on loan to Italian club U.S. Lecce. Cuadrado was a revelation during his time with the Colombian League in 2008. A substitute for Zuñiga, he shares similar strengths but has a better shot and uses middle shootings and free kicks to score goals. Cuadrado turned in a man-of-the-match performance upon receiving a spot in a game versus Venezuela in 2010, scoring the opening goal and enabling Colombia to win 2-0. He has been capped 7 times for the national team since his call up in 2010.
Elkin Soto Jaramillo
Soto is a German soccer club 1. FSV Mainz 05 midfielder. He hails from Manizales where he was born on August 4, 1980. Soto is known for scoring many game-winning goals, using his dominant left foot with great skill. In his club career, he has played in 45 matches, with 4 scoring goals and 9 assisted goals. Soto is a starter for the Colombia national soccer team and displays real leadership on the field, playing in the last 5 games of the 2006 FIFA World Cup and scoring against Uruguay, Peru and Ecuador, as well as in many friendly matches. He was one of the fundamental reasons for Once Caldas’ win against Boca Juniors during the Copa Libertadores 2004 final. A product of the Atletico Nacional youth system, he started his senior career with Once Caldas in 1999. He got signed up by Barcelona SC in 2005 and joined his current club in 2007. He got called up to represent his country in 2004 and has earned 16 caps, with a goal tally of six.
Abel Enrique Aguilar Tapias
A player for Spain’s Hércules CF, Aguilar was born in Bogota on January 6, 1985. He is a player known for his willingness to do everything necessary to win balls and organize the defense. He is a solid box-to-box midfielder who combines both defense and ball control. Aguilar was the captain of the Colombian U-17 and U-20 and rose to fame when he led the U-20 to third place during the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship. Afterwards, he was promoted to senior level during the 2004 Copa America and scored two goals, which helped the Colombia national futbol team enter the semifinals. He was again relegated to U-20 as captain to lead the team to a first-place finish during the 2005 South American Youth Cup. He has earned 26 caps for the national squad.
Aquilar started his senior football club career with Deportivo Cali in 2002. After three seasons he was bought by Italian club Udinese Calcio although he did not have many playing opportunities and was sent on loan to several clubs, including Ascoli, Xerez, Hercules and Zaragoza. After being released by Udinese in 2010 he signed a 4-year contract with Hercules.
Fredy Alejandro Guarin Vasquez
Born on June 30, 1986, this Puerto Boyaca-born soccer player now plays for F.C. Porto in Portugal. As a midfielder he had represented Colombia in all youth levels and made his international debut during the pre-FIFA World Cup in 2006 with a friendly match against Ecuador. Guarin was a very important midfield element for Porto, playing in more than 40 official games and scoring ten goals, including five during the UEFA Europa League campaign, which resulted in victory. Envigado was his youth football club where he started in 2002. He graduated to the club’s senior side in 2004 and was contracted until 2007. He spent one season each on loan to Boca Juniors and Saint-Etienne, before finally joining Saint-Etienne in 2007. He only stayed there for one season and signed up with FC Porto at the start of the 2008 season.
Carlos Alberto Sanchez Moreno
Sanchez was born in Quibdo in Choco, Colombia on February 6, 1986. Sanchez is a Valenciennes midfielder who gained the nickname “La Roca” (The Rock). He started his senior football career at the age of 17, signing up with Uruguay soccer club Danubio in 2003. After playing for the club for two seasons he joined another Uruguay football club, Club Atletico River Plate where he stayed for two seasons. At the start of the 2007 season, Sanchez signed up with French club Valenciennes.
He made his international debut for the Colombia national football club in 2007 against Panama and has made it to the first team in all of the national team matches during the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, including their 2-1 win over Argentina in 2007. He has earned 25 caps for his country since his call up in 2007.
Gustavo Adolfo Bolivar Zapata
Bolivar was born in Apartado on April 16, 1985. He is currently signed up with Colombian club Deportes Tolima based in the city of Ibague as a midfielder. At age 19 he debuted in his senior career as a midfielder for Envigado in 2004. After playing with the club for three seasons, he signed up with his current club, Deportes Tolima where he has already made 137 game appearances and kicked 7 goals. He is part of the 2011 Copa America Colombian squad.
Hugo Rodallega Martinez
Rodallega was born on July 25, 1985, and plays as a striker for Wigan Athtletic, becoming the club’s all-time leading scorer in the English Premier League with 23 goals. He was born in El Carmelo, Valle del Cauca. He represented Colombia at the U-20 South American Championship in 2005, where he set a new record for the most number of goals set in the tournament, with 11 goals in 8 games. Rodallega’s senior Colombia national soccer team debut came during a friendly match against Venezuela, and played in goal during Colombia’s final tournament game at the 2007 Copa America. In another friendly match against Venezuela in 2008, he assisted in 1 goal and got a penalty awarded for his team in a 5-2 victory. While Rodallega has displayed physical strength and a notable technique on the field, inconsistency and a lack of flair has haunted his performance. His youth career was spent with Boca Juniors de Cali while he started his senior career with Deportes Quindio. He also had stints with Deportivo Cali and Monterrey, Atlas (on loan) and then with Necaxa before singing up with Wigan Athletic in 2009.
Gustavo Adrian Ramos Vasquez
Commonly known as Adrian Ramos, he was born on January 22, 1986 in the town of Santander de Quilichao. He is a forward for the German Bundesliga club Hertha BSC. He previously played for his country’s U-17 squad during the 2003 World Cup and scored 3 goals, helping Colombia finish 4th. Ramos then started for Colombia on 2008 in a friendly match against Ecuador.
His football career started at America de Cali, first as a junior before being promoted to the senior side in 2004. After five seasons with the club he was sent on loan to Trujillanos FC for one season and to Santa Fe, still on loan for one season. Although he had a disappointing stay with Santa Fe, he made up for his unproductive time when he returned to America de Cali by helping the reach the Mustang Cup finals.
Teofilo Antonio Gutierrez Rocancio
Teofilo Gutierrez was born on May 17, 1985 in Barranquilla, and is playing as a striker for Racing Club de Avellaneda in Argentina. He has been capped three times for the national team, scoring on his debut in a 2-1 win against El Salvador in 2009. Gutierrez also scored the second goal in a 2-0 victory over Ecuador during the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. However, he was expelled from the game against Uruguay during the second half. Gutierrez started his senior football career quite late at age 21 in 2006. His first club was Barranquilla FC. He joined Atletico Junior in 2007 and played for the club from 2007 to 2009, playing 79 games and scoring 45 goals. In season 2010-2011 his playing rights were bought by Turkish club Trabzonspor AS for $3M. He was doing good in Turkey but for some reason went back to Colombia without permission from his club in 2011. At the start of the 2011 season, he has been signed up by Racing Club.
Radamel Falcao Garcia Zarate
Hailing from Santa Marta, Colombia, Radamel Falcao Garcia, popularly known as Falcao was born on February 10, 1986, and is one of the most prolific scorers and best forwards in football today, achieving 72 goals during his time with FC Porto. In a single UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League campaign, he beat the previous goal record of 15 with an incredible 17 goals. Based on balloting by 53 sportswriters of the UEFA member associations, he is regarded as the fifth best player in Europe during the 2010-2011 season. Falcao is said to display tremendous intelligence and agility during pressure situations, allowing him to drag opposing defenders out of position and score so many goals. Observers declare his playing style to be similar with Uruguayan hero Diego Forlan. Falcao has been capped 35 times for the Colombia national football team, scoring 10 goals, having been called up to represent Colombia in the U-17, U-20 and the senior squad. He scored both goals in a 2-0 win against Bolivia during the 2011 Copa America, which secured the team’s passage into the quarterfinals.
Falcao is currently playing for Atlético Madrid. His transfer fee was 40 million euros and potential add-ons that amounts to 7 million euros. He eased into his position as striker for the club quite easily, scoring his first goal five days after his debut with the club. It was followed by a hat trick when they played Racing Santander and scored a brace against Sporting Gijon. With a total of 5 goals, he’s in the list of top league scorers, along with Roberto Soldado and Lionel Messi.
Jackson Arley Martinez Valencia
Martinez was born on October 3, 1986 in Quibdo, Choco in Colombia. He debuted at age 18 with Colombian club Independiente Medellin. He’s got speed and agility, characteristics that are needed in a striker and he is good in the air, scoring 18 goals that made him the leading scorer in 2009 and helped his team win title number five. After six seasons with Medellin, premier division Mexican club Jaguares de Chiapas acquired his services in 2010. The club believes that Martinez is their lucky charm because they either win or have a draw each time Martinez scores a goal during a game. He is fast gaining noticed by several clubs but it is still a wait-and-see situation although England’s Bristol City seems to be quite eager to make a bid for him. He has been capped 10 times for the national football team of Colombia and has already scored five goals since his call up in 2009.
Dayro Maurico Moreno Galindo
A center forward for Club Tijuana, Moreno hails from Chicoral in Tolima, Colombia where he was born on September 16, 1985. He was signed up by Once Caldas in 2003 for four seasons and was loaned to Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense in 2006. After coming back to Once Caldas where he had an outstanding season he signed up to play for Romanian football club Steaua Bucuresti in 2008 for a transfer fee of 2 million US dollars. He was however relegated to the B squad for the 2009-2010 season. His good performance earned him recall to the first division where he played out the rest of his contract. At the start of 2010 he was back at Once Caldas where he stayed for one season. He is currently contracted for four seasons with Mexican soccer club Xoloitzcuintles de Tijuana.
Moreno has excelled in his country’s U-20 squad, making 26 appearances and a goal tally of 16. He has since then had 17 caps for the senior side of the Colombia national team, scoring 2 goals. He had a legendary performance against Argentina during the South American qualifiers in 2008, scoring a game-winning goal 2-1. Has also won the 2004 Copa Liberadores.