The final of the Copa Libertadores. The story of Yeferson Soteldo, Santos figure: the “drama” for his height and Messi as a reference

Soteldo always points to the sky: here, celebrating, with three companions Credit: AP Photo / Andre Penner, Pool

On his back, he carries the mythical number 10, that of Pelé. She wears low stockings, a suggestive blonde dye on her hair, she is right-handed, although she has plenty of skill in both boots and imagination in her head. He is 23 years old, was born in Acarigua, a city in Venezuela in the state of Portuguesa, mixed in the temptations of bad life.

Messi, his great inspiration

However, Yeferson Soteldo, the figure of Santos, who this Saturday will seek the Copa Libertadores against Palmeiras, in the Maracana, stands out, above all things, for its height. It measures 1.58m, although the official pages usually add two centimeters. “I went through a lot … everyone talked about my size, what I wasn’t going to be able to play football because of my size, mainly because it is so small. They said that because of my height I couldn’t be a professional. And here I am, I got over it. This is a message for the youngest, those who are not so tall. You can see that someone like me could come up and say ‘I can too‘”, bill.

Among giants, the Venezuelan rogue, who had a very hard childhood Source: Reuters

And he opens his deepest admiration. “Yo inspired me in Messi. I saw that it was small and that it arrived. I remember that from when I was a kid. And so did I, in my own way, I did it. Few believed in me and now I wear the mythical shirt number 10 of Santos “, the crack pigeon, the author of the second goal of Santos on a downcast Boca in the semifinals, gets excited.

The goal to Boca: his specialty

Has three sons. The first, he had it at 18 years old. His name is a real find: Thiago Mateo, for the deep admiration he has for the genius of Rosario. When Soteldo looks in the mirror, he reflects on the life story of La Pulga. Not so much in dribbling: in the history of overcoming.

In the concentration of Santos, the mischief of the others rested on his diminutive figure. At meals, his companions would set up a table for him as if he were a child, a few meters from the main one, and even once they placed a baby chair at the head. The crack was laughing. He is rarely angry almost never, nor when the coaches They usually remove him from the scene 15 minutes into the second chapter, because he runs out of oxygen. Without legs.

Some of your skills in 2020

“The final is going to be something very special for me and my family, but above all, for Venezuela. My people always support me, especially when I go through a bad time. If we win the cup it would be something very special for my people, who need it so much “, he reflects, in a chat with the official site of Conmebol. He does not have a smiling look at the reality of Venezuela, but prefers not to get mixed up in the mud of politics. Last October, he could have flown to Saudi Arabia: Al-Hilal was offering him suitcases full of millions, but he preferred to stay. He sensed that something big was going to happen.

He is an idol in his land. He made soccer a passion of the multitudes, in a country that has other flag sports, such as baseball or basketball. “When I scored against Boca in the semifinals, everything exploded, I was the number one trend in Venezuela. It fills me with pride to be one of the references for the children of Venezuela. That is worth more to me than anything else. “From a distance, his country needs good news like water. Soteldo brings them all together.

Cuca, Santos's coach, shelters him: he usually leaves at 15 minutes from ST

Cuca, Santos’s coach, shelters him: he usually leaves at 15 minutes from ST Credit: Sebastiao Moreira / Pool via AP

They called him “Manzanita”, but that stage of his life prefers to bury it. Times of a childhood without a future in the deepest Caracas. He was wayward, fickle, a little alley fighter who “it could have ended very badly”If it weren’t for the illusion of a ball. He didn’t even have the money to buy booties, but he was so fast that he even beat poverty. He made his debut at age 16 in Zamora, went to Huachipato, a small club in Chile, for 1,500,000 dollars, the highest amount paid in its history.

As he dribbled into his shadow, he passed University of Chile, where he met Jorge Sampaoli, “the best coach of my career”. Once, he explained it very well: “With Jorge I had to change my way of playing. He realized that I was not a player who liked to score. He told me: ‘You won’t play with me until you learn to score’. I have learned a lot. Sampaoli is the best coach I’ve ever had. “

Casilda’s man received him with applause during his brief visit to Santos: “I know Soteldo very well because he played in my beloved U of Chile. He can be a surprising player with appearances from far behind, he can play in all three positions. attack, both on the right, in the center or on the left. He is a player who needs a lot of freedom to produce the unevenness he causes. I hope it fits very well with what we are looking for, which is a team that dominates the other all the time. “

The goal is not his specialty: in Santos he scored 19 in 91 games

The goal is not his specialty: in Santos he scored 19 in 91 games Credit: AP Photo / Andre Penner, Pool

His explosion in the Sub 20 of Venezuela, the South American country that grew the most in youth in the last decade (26 games, 6 goals, 6 assists), led him to the selected team, to whom he gave the most valuable thing than a team can have: joy. In Santos he found his place in the world, but he is not mistaken: “They say that I’m already an idol, but I don’t believe it. I appreciate it, yes. “

Another glory of ‘Peixe’ is Neymar, who after the triumph over Boca took him to the media cusp to the Venezuelan, in a “live” of a social network. Soteldo pinches himself and always looks up: he spies on the afterlife. “I want to meet Pelé in person. That is my next dream.” The King of football awaits his next function in full dress.

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