The Guajiro footballer arrived in the England team this Friday, after passing through Porto.
The ball falls and Luis Diaz looks at her, follows her so that she doesn’t get lost, attaches her with the gaze that draws her towards her body which begins to contort, and when she is close enough she launches into an acrobatic act, floating in the zone, driving backwards; then he nails the chalaca and sends that docile ball into the Brazilian net, it was like that in the last Copa América; It may be the best goal he has scored in 2021, and in his 24 years, but he has done more things, his repertoire ranges from Chilean to heel, from tunnel to bicycle, on dirt and in the in the air, in the Copa América or in the Champions League, with Porto, with the national team.
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Díaz was the best Colombian football player of 2021 and this Friday he officially joined Liverpool.
Luis Díaz is a common name in Colombia, anyone is called Luis Diaz, but in the world of football it already has a resonance. In Europe, to say Luis Díaz is to speak of an intriguing footballer, because he has a football that excites, a game of tricks . There, they talk about him with the certainty that they are facing a dazzling and different player. A Díaz who dares, who does not hide on the pitch. A Luis who throws chalacas even in Brazil. In Portugal, where he has been playing since 2019, they had no doubts about his special season.
And Luis Díaz is so simple, so kind, so calm. A friendly and shy Diaz. A Díaz who only explodes on the pitch, where he is silent, but where he is ready to invent games that make noise: his football is always new. But we said that he is very simple, a Díaz who does not live in controversy.
From Fideo to Lucho
He was so thin that no one called him Luis or Lucho, he was just “Fideo”. That’s what he was called when he was just beginning to dream of football. So he didn’t think about the national team, or Porto, or scoring goals with a Chilean kick against Brazil, or maybe he did, but he just played, grabbed the ball and didn’t let go, his head scraping the grass, until he ran out of ground and kept running. It was “Fideo” Díaz in the team of his hometown, Barrancas, in La Guajira, where he was born, with his Wayús roots, but not one hundred percent Wayú, as he himself said. But he was thin, very thin, almost malnourished. This is how those who knew him at that time remember him.
John ‘Pocillo’ Díaz, former footballer and trainer, was one of the first in Luis’ career. He came to meet him in 2015, during the first National Aboriginal Championship. Even today, six years later, he remembers arriving behind his father, with his fragile little gait, his innocent look, as if fearful. Pocillo and Carlos el ‘Pibe’ Valderrama were responsible for defining a Colombia native selection. And there was Díaz, or el Fideo, and how not if at the first ball he had already left them speechless.
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“This skinny guy from the start was clumsy, malnourished, but he had some interesting things, he played as a striker and never looked up, but when it came to dribbling and having the ball at his feet, he was very fast, and of course we chose it, ”El Pocillo tells EL TIEMPO, and says that when he arrived in Bogotá he came in shorts and a skeleton, because he didn’t know what the weather was like. They had to go out and get him some clothes.
They placed him as an outside midfielder on the right, yes, he started on the right, but they soon realized that he had a tendency toenter the court to shoot, then he sketched out with the left, which lacked all power. So Pocillo and El Pibe moved him to the left so he could do the same thing, only with his profile, and his shots carried dynamite. “Then we tried to make it more associative, because Luis took the ball and didn’t give it to anyone,” El Pocillo recalled with a laugh.
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In this Copa América Indígena, which was in Chile, Díaz scored 7 goals in total; Colombia was second and he played so well that a team from Arica wanted to keep him. Pocillo says the indigenous organization didn’t let him and Barranquilla FC had already seen him. It was when he passed through the hands of coach Arturo Reyes, now Junior’s coach.
Thus, the “Fideo” Díaz began to be Lucho Díaz. He increased his body mass, because it was mandatory, but this step was not easy. Coach Carlos ‘Piscis’ Restrepo took him to the Colombia national under-20 team in 2017but at first he was hesitant to take him to the South American team in Ecuador.
“We are at the forefront of an example case for young people, in the way it appears and what it is today. With him we had medical doubts due to his physical condition and the response he could provide. We were talking about malnutrition and not having the muscles to support a South American. We called it, but thinking more about shutting down games. And there he marks a path with many people helping him. He is a boy who, due to his humility, is very receptive, ready to grow and give his best and sacrifice himself to reach the elite”, explains the Pisces.
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In the 2017 passed to the Junior of Julio Comesaña, and he quickly won over fans with his dribbling skills. He then made the leap to Porto de Portugal, where today he never ceases to dazzle and where he has already won a League, a Cup and a Super Cup . Today it’s another Diaz, with the same look, with the same gambeta, but it’s another. “Today we see an extraordinary performance for his effort to improve physically, to arm himself better, and today he is unbalanced, with speed and skill, he plays like a winger, he is quick and with a purpose,” says the Pisces.
A 2021 special for Díaz
Luis Díaz is now a proper, resounding name. The International Federation of History and Statistics has included it among the 32 best of 2021 , a list where he rubbed shoulders with Messi and Ronaldo. He was the best Colombian footballer in the last Copa América in Brazil, where he scored four goals, and shared the Golden Boot with Messi . Fifa named him one of the best of last year. Milan coach Stefano Pioli said before facing him in the Champions League: “If I have to name a player, I will choose Luis Díaz. He impressed me with his quality and speed. And Díaz scores and scores every week, inventing plays and making the audience feel like a football audience.
In Portugal, they fell in love with Díaz. “I define it in one word: fantastic! said Joaquim Rita, who is the journalist who votes in Portugal for the Ballon d’Or and works for Cadena SIC. “The 20-21 season was very promising, I haven’t always started, but this year it exploded. Today, without a doubt, he is the great figure of the League in Portugal and one of the best in the Champions League. I think it will not be possible to stay in Portugal after the end of the season. Going to leave. Sure. Portuguese football will be small for the quality of Luis Díaz”, he anticipated a few months ago.
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His clause to leave Porto was 80 million euros , and his market value keeps going up (he is said to have left for 40 million euros plus bonuses). He was in the sights of several clubs, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Newcastle… Finally liverpool took it.
A journalist who follows Porto closely is José Miguel Machado, from the newspaper Registration, and was also surprised by Díaz. He said it in 2021: “He is considered, more or less unanimously, as the best player in Portugal today. Match after match, in the league and in the Champions League, he performed well and showed his ability to be decisive. We have to take advantage of it while we can because the jump to a bigger championship should be soon. It will be what he wants and he will play where he wants. CF Porto will make a lot of money with him”.
Díaz continues on his flight, as if still floating and waiting for the ball to fall to score a Chilean goal against Brazil. In the national team he ceased to be an alternative a long time ago to become a deadly weapon, from the left, that corridor where he starts to run or to fly, like when he was a kid, only that he does not pass more, but now slows down, cheats, bypasses and takes a picture. So, with this street style, it’s as if Díaz, the one they called el Fideo, already has weight in Europe.
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