List Member Galleries
Quintero a throwback to bygone
Amid the blaze of emotion of Colombia’s must-win match against Poland the manager, José Pekerman, lost his head. Juan Fernando Quintero had just slipped a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Radamel Falcao to score his first World Cup goal with a clipped outside-of-the-boot finish. Two-nil to Colombia and victory was in sight. As the weight of pressure subsided, the normally reticent Argentinian coach erupted in elation on the touchline. “Juan! Juan! Genius! Genius! You’re a genius!” Pekerman bawled as his grinning 25-year-old star basked in the praise.
Against Japan in their first match Quintero had scored Colombia’s first free-kick goal in seven years with a clever low drive and been his country’s main attacking threat. But against Poland that level shifted up a gear. Tasked with picking the holes in Poland’s back three from the centre of Colombia’s attacking trident that included James Rodríguez shunted out on the left, the diminutive midfielder’s sumptuous vision and exquisite technique turned the game. Like Paul Gascoigne in his pomp, Quintero wriggled reverse passes and through-balls into gaps that brought gasps and applause from even the Polish press section. “What we would give for a player like Quintero to feed Robert Lewandowski,” one Polish journalist said.
resilience was finally broken by a
Yerry Mina header from Rodríguez’s delicately swept cross just before half-time it was in no small part thanks to the cunning perspicuity through which Quintero had forged an opening. It is one of his habits. Only a few weeks earlier the Colombian had played an almost identical ball to the striker Lucas Pratto to settle a tight Copa Libertadores game for River Plate against Santa Fe. In the key moments, Quintero has a habit of turning up.
There are many, however, who argue that Quintero’s football belongs
Michael McLeod Youth jersey
to another era. For all the bundles of talent, the tricks and the deft close-ball control, that incredible all-seeing vision and the famed low centre of gravity, Quintero’s languid style does not fit easily into the modern game. Rivaldo and Juan Román Riquelme were both
John Kuhn Youth jersey
Quintero idols but such players no longer populate the elite level of the game as they have often proved too easy for opponents to nullify.
Thus Pekerman’s gamble to field both Rodríguez and Quintero together was a bold call. Yet it was also recognition that Colombia had become too staid and increasingly dependent on Rodríguez over the last four years. Indeed, a turning point came in 2017 when Colombia toiled to a 1-0 home win over Bolivia after Rodríguez tucked home a penalty at the second attempt with just seven minutes to go. Against what was in essence a Bolivia C-team Pekerman was rightly very concerned. “We suffered out there,” he complained. “There are things we are not doing well; there are things we must change.”
If he was forced to tinker with both his tactics and personnel, it was still unthinkable back then that Pekerman would turn to Quintero as the man to provide a solution. The talented playmaker was a forgotten man, a player who was still only 24 but whose career had slid down the drain. Quintero’s slump from the top after scoring at the last World Cup had been spectacular. He had been wiped from football’s map.
First his parent club Porto became exasperated by his shoddy attitude and lack of professionalism. Quintero was out of shape and seemingly more interested in pursuing a side career making reggaeton music videos with his showbiz pals. The burst of fame had clearly come too soon. Sent on loan to Rennes, his manager there complained at one point that the Colombian was not even fit to play 20 minutes. He was subsequently relegated to the club’s amateur reserve team that were competing in the French fourth division.
But his career was perhaps saved by a return home. Signing another loan deal with his home-city club Independiente Medellin, Quintero got both the playing time and emotional support he desperately needed. Having grown up in a violent and poor Medellin slum, Quintero had also spent almost his entire life wondering about the father who had left the family home when he was two years old, never to return. The burning hope of unlikely return continues to gnaw.
But after a year back in his home city, Quintero gradually rebuilt a flailing career to earn another loan move to River Plate in January. Immediately plunged into the reserves, Quintero simply knuckled down this time. Now he was mentally settled not even the constant media jibes about his weight could get him down. “I’m not fat; I just have a big arse,”
Joshua Garnett Youth jersey
he quipped to silence endless press hounding.
You must be logged in to comment.
Art, Writing, etc.
forgot your password?
Log in with Google