Luis Diaz’s Inspirational Story, From Malnourished Children to Champions League Stars

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NBCNEWS – AC Milan will never forget a person named Luis Diaz. The Colombian player is considered to have always thwarted I Rosonerri’s efforts to get full points.

In the first meeting in the group stage of the Champions League, Diaz became the only goal scorer for Porto’s victory. While in the second match, Diaz also scored one goal in a sweet draw.

With Porto so far this summer, Diaz has scored 11 goals in 17 appearances.

At the national team level, Diaz was unstoppable during this summer’s Copa America. He scored against strong teams like Brazil and Argentina, and finished the tournament as top scorer with Lionel Messi with a collection of 4 goals.

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The 24-year-old has been linked with moves to several Premier League clubs, such as Everton, Newcastle United and even Liverpool.

Then, who exactly is Diaz? How was the journey, so that it can get to the point it is now?

What is clear, what Diaz is feeling now is the process of a long journey. Names like Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Fredy Guarin and Jackson Martinez are a source of inspiration.

Luis Diaz’s Childhood

One of Diaz’s hobbies as a child was watching trains go by, the train carrying coal only passed three times a day in her small village called Barrancas.

As trains pass, Diaz often finds himself wondering if he’ll ever have the chance to see more of the world’s sights.

Diaz grew up in a village where 4,770 children died from malnutrition between 2008 and 2016.

When ‘Pocillo’ Diaz first met the Porto winger in 2015, the coach was astonished at how skinny Diaz was.

“For a moment, we thought it would be very difficult for him to appear because Diaz seemed to have a malnutrition problem. He was very thin and would lose a duel with another player,” he recalled.

“But apart from that, he managed to stand out among the 400 candidates and get into the squad of 26 people. He initially played as a striker, but had one big problem in his game,” he said.

“He used to run the ball with his head down, so sometimes he didn’t realize he had reached the end of the pitch. He is very fast and has very good technique, the ball will stick to his feet like glue.”

The player, who is also known as Lucho, has signed a contract with Colombia’s second tier club, Barranquilla FC.

He had made such an impression, that he led the team to create a new age group to accommodate him.

“When we brought him Lucho was 18 years old. However, the youth-only tournament in Colombia is divided between the under-20 and under-17 age groups,” said Fernel Diaz, youth football coordinator for Barranquilla.

“He wasn’t ready to play with the former and was too old for the latter, so we had to find a solution. We then decided to launch an under-18 team to give him and the other boys playing time.”

“However, he did not last long. By the end of that year, he had already featured for the U-20 team (Barranquilla).”

At this point, there was no longer any doubt about his talent. However, Diaz still needed to strengthen his body. Barranquilla’s management then embarked on a plan that saw him gain 10 kg through a diet plan that included eating pasta at breakfast.

In 2017, he moved to Junior and his career took off. He won the Colombian League and reached the final of the Copa Sudamericana the following year.

He would score his first national team goal in the 2-1 defeat by South Korea in 2019, becoming the first footballer from La Guajira to do so since the 1990s. Former Colombia boss Carlos Queiroz, who also led Portugal and Real Madrid, compared him to the legendary Luis Figo.

He had offers from Zenit St Petersburg and Cardiff City among many others, but Diaz ended up choosing Porto in a €7 million deal that same season.

He is now expected to leave the Portuguese giants next summer in a record-breaking transfer, with his buyout clause set at 80 million euros.

(mochamad rahmatul haq/yul)

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