Yeferson Soteldo, Venezuela's little giant

The Vinotinto midfielder was near to leave soccer when he was still a teenager.

Yeferson Soteldo

We tell you the story of the player Yeferson Soteldo. / Photo: TW-Libertadores

LatinAmerican Post | Theoscar Mogollón González

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Leer en español: Yeferson Soteldo, el pequeño gigante de Venezuela

They say, in life and in soccerl, that the train of opportunities passes only once and that if you are not able to hop on it you will regret it. In Venezuela there is a particular history; that of a very short boy, with an innate talent to play soccer, and since he was a teenager he had to deal with a life full of dangers and bad influences . Years later, and after overcoming all obstacles, he has become an idol of the masses and even a finalist in the Copa Libertadores with Santos from Brazil: Yeferson Soteldo .

Soccer has stories of improvement, such as that of Soteldo himself, who was unsuccessful in his first attempt to train as a soccer player due to the "misconduct" he was carrying when he tried in the under-14 category of Caracas FC . This is how the most winning club in Venezuela was forced to do without him, that indiscipline that - unfortunately - is capable of ruining the promising careers of many young people around the world.

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Before that, the thousand illusions of Soteldo vanished and he left the capital to return to his hometown, Acarigua (Portuguesa state), but without stopping playing with the ball, the one with which he has always been excellent. The years passed and "Manzanita", as his relatives call him, devoted himself to his studies and his mother, waiting for a new train to take it seriously. And so it happened! After a match between regional teams held in the city of Barinas, the technical director Noel Sanvicente noticed the immense potential of that little boy who carried the team on his shoulder and took him to the training categories of Zamora FC, where he ended up saving the race.

«Vivía en un barrio muy peligroso de Caracas, mi familia todavía vive ahí. Si no hubiese sido por el fútbol, hubiese terminado mal, quizás muerto. Tengo que darle las gracias al fútbol, que me sacó de ahí. El profesor Noel (Sanvicente) me ayudó a salir de esas cosas». - Yeferson Soteldo en una entrevista a Daniel Kuschel, de latercera.com

The rebirth of a star

With another chance to show what he was capable of in soccer, Soteldo made the most of his stay in the under-16 of the black and white team. "When I arrived in Zamora, the coach told me that I had a lot of talent, he made me understand it, and I listened to him," said the offensive midfielder. From there, everything was in constant growth for him, because, after debuting with the first team at the age of 16 in 2013, he was one of the main protagonists in the two local Zamora championships in 2015 and 2016 . This earned him being signed by Huachipato de Chile for 1.5 million euros , making it the club's most expensive transaction.

With the steel team, he debuted in February 2017 and won over the fans from day one. However, the best during that year was his outstanding participation in the South American under-20 with Vinotinto and later participation in the World Cup of the category in South Korea, a scene where he dazzled with several of his teammates to get the runner-up after falling by the minimum against England . This tournament also served as a showcase, since he ended up on loan in January 2018 to the U of Chile to play Copa Libertadores.

With another great season in Chilean territory, Soteldo continued to attract the attention of various scouts around the world . Precisely, in 2019, one of the greatest in Brazil was the one who took the step forward to take over his services and even give him the mythical Pelé shirt 10: Santos FC . Jorge Sampaoli was responsible, not only for taking him to the club, but also for helping him continue to improve in all aspects. «With Jorge I had to change the way I play. He realized that I was not a player who liked to be defensive. He told me: 'You don't play with me until you learn to help in defense.' I have learned a lot. Sampaoli is the best coach I have ever had, ”the Venezuelan confessed in an interview.

In a short time, Soteldo has also captivated the demanding Brazilian fans with his dribbles and overflows. Who wouldn't be able to surrender to his feet with the magic that his boots give off? But, despite all those flashes of quality, the vinotinto still has yet to win a title outside of his country . In 2019 he was runner-up in the Brasileirão championship, something that served - in a way - as motivation to face the Libertadores 2020, a cup where he did his thing again and was on the verge of touching Eternal Glory after falling 1-0 against Palmeiras in the Final. Certainly, soccer is about opportunities, but also about revenge, and, sooner rather than later, Yeferson Soteldo will conquer that trophy that still eludes him.