Juan Guillermo Cuadrado: A player born during war

The Colombian footballer overcame the violence of the 90s, fought to be professional, and now he plays for Juventus of Italy

Juan Guillermo Cuadrado: A player born during war

The nightmare

Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, born in 1988 in Necoclí, municipality of the subregion of Urabá, in the department of Antioquia in Colombia. Cuadrado came to the world at a violent time for the coffee country. The Urabá (northwestern Colombia) was the epicenter of multiple massacres and violence that have affected the country and left an indelible mark on its inhabitants.

The dominance of guerrilla groups, paramilitary groups, and drug traffickers caused the place to be an area of ​​brutal war and excessive violence, leaving thousands of victims. Cuadrado's family would not be unaware of this unfortunate situation. In 1992, the violence had reached a high point, uncontrollable, and the shootings were constant.

Guillermo Cuadrado and Marcela Bello, parents of Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, faced this situation, so they invented a game to prevent their son from being murdered and to prevent him from losing his innocence: every time the little Cuadrado heard a shooting he had to hide under the bed. The game served half, because Cuadrado survived but he lost his childhood, and most importantly, lost his father, who was killed. The player had to watch the corpse of his father lying on the ground. The nightmare was brutal.

The start of a dream in the middle of bullets

From that terrifying moment, life changed radically for little Juan Guillermo Cuadrado and his mother, Marcela Bello. The two overcame their great loss, Mrs. Bello resumed her studies and Juan Guillermo was dedicated to be happy behind a soccer ball. The family tried to make their way between the bullets and began to build a life right there in Urabá. Juan Guillermo, faithful to his passion, entered the school of Mingo Fútbol Club in Necoclí. However, the violence did not diminish, so they had to go to the municipality of Apartadó, where the player continued his career entering the local team FC Manchester.

The years passed, and Cuadrado, 12 years old, left his beautiful but violent home to go to Cali with Nelson Gallego, who at the time was coach of the lower divisions of Deportivo Cali. Gallego had seen the talent of Juan Guillermo thanks to Agustín Garazabalo, a seer of the Valle del Cauca team. However, it was not there where he managed to debut professionally, because life, capricious, made him debut eight years later in a team of his beloved Antioquia that had taken him so many things but now wanted to give back everything.

The Great Cuadrado is born

In 2008, Cuadrado achieved what he had always wanted: he made his debut in Colombian professional soccer with the Antioquia team Deportivo Independiente Medellín. While there, the footballer did not neglect his studies and graduated from high school, an honor for the family.

In Medellín, he reached more achievements, because he showed his enormous talent, which led him to play in Udinese of Italy. Cuadrado had arrived in Europe, the dream for any footballer.

Juan Guillermo Cuadrado was already a coffee figure abroad, since being in Udinese he was called up for the Colombian National Team for the first time in 2010. The great talent of Cuadrado led him to Lecce and Fiorentina in Italy. In 2014, the footballer played the World Cup in Brazil for his beloved Colombia. Already in 2015, the player took a big leap and went to Chelsea in England, which catapulted him to the most successful team in Italian history: Juventus of Turin. In Juventus, Cuadrado is loved and has managed to triumph, as in the Colombia Team, with which he hopes to be able to play in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The success of Cuadrado, far from violence, is undeniable. Despite achieving success away from home, the player does not waste a single moment with his beloved mother, with whom he spent the most difficult moments of his life. "We are recovering all the time we lost when he was a child. We try to be as much as we can together. Taking advantage of all the time we could not share. I had to be strong and give him the possibilities to reach his goal and now seeing his dream come true makes me the happiest mom in the world, " said Marcela, who proudly sees how from the gloom of violence came a winner who shines with light own.

The native of Necoclí, in the Urabá Antioqueño, is the example of a path of peace and success that Colombia has tried to implement in recent years. Cuadrado came out of hiding from bullets under his bed to score goals in European networks. A path of renewal, overcoming, love, and struggle for dreams that even the war itself could not end.


LatinAmerican Post | Javier Aldana
Translated from “Juan Guillermo Cuadrado: Un jugador surgido en la guerra”

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