On 2nd October 2005, this young lad of 16 scored a goal in the 31st minute to put Mexico 1-0 against Brazil. It was the final of the FIFA u-17 World Cup. It was also the lad’s 5th goal of the tournament. Mexico won 3-0 and the lad won the Golden Boot.
22 days later, his home in Cancun was washed away by Hurricane Wilma. Chivas de Guadalajara came to sign him up, the lad asked for help in finding a new home for his family.
But before Guadalajara could sign him up, Arsenal grabbed him in November 2005 for five years. Carlos Vela was off to London. Arsene Wenger saw in him the future of Arsenal, the young man who would take over with the exit of Henry.
I don’t really care much for the English Premier League, not the least because of the heightened self-righteousness that Englishmen have regarding the “high standards” of the league (Jimmy Greaves puts Pele as no. 2 best footballer ever – not no.1 because Pele never played in England)
But football is a beautiful game and it is characters like Vela that make it worthwhile to switch on the TV. And so it was that I saw the last 10 minutes of the Arsenal – Blackpool game today and there were two fantastic pieces of magic by Vela which made me want to put up this post.
And what’s Wenger’s philosophy about picking up 16 year old prodigies from around the world? This:
“Why do I do it?” Wenger asked. “That’s the privilege of being a long time inside the club. You can win or lose but you can also give a culture and a way to play the game that lives beyond you.”
But what’s a football blog post without a video clip of goals. Here’s from Vela’s first match, Arsenal v Sheffield in 2008.