Luis Diaz, The Rising Star of Colombia

Most football fans who have ever played amateur football had one dream: That a scout or a coach will accidentally see them while they are playing on the street. We can say for sure that this dream has never come true for most of us, but for the Colombian winger, Luis Diaz, it’s the reality. The same Luis who was the ball boy in Barranquilla 4 years ago when Colombia played, the same Luis who took a ‘selfie’ with James Rodriguez back then and now shares the locker room with him.

Diaz was born in Barrancas at Guajira county, which is located near the Venezuela-Colombia border. His roots are the roots of an ethnic group called Wayuu, an ancient indigenous tribe which was located in the sources of Rancheria River. These roots gave him the opportunity to travel to Bogota for trials. Diaz was the best player in his neighborhood, and he came along with his team to be Colombia’s first indigenous team for the first ever indigenous Copa America back in 2015. The coaches of Colombia were Jhon Diaz and Carlos Valderrama, and it didn’t take them too long to pick him to be the captain once they noticed him at practice.

In the tournament, Diaz was one of the best players who led Colombia to finish as runner-ups. When the team returned to Colombia, Valderrama decided to recommend Junior Barranquilla’s management to sign the talented player. They were impressed and sent Diaz to play with their feeder club, Barranquilla FC from the second division. Diaz became one of Barranquilla’s best players and was invited by the U-20 coach, Carlos Restrepo, to play at the 2017 U-20 South American Championship. Two years later, Junio Comesaña, Junior’s manager, decided to trial Diaz. Comesaña was very impressed, and Diaz made his debut appearance in a cup match against Once Caldas.

Diaz improved his skills as time passed by, and along with Teófilo Gutiérrez, they became the most dangerous duo in the Colombian league. He became one of the leading players of the club and had a key role in a team that won back-to-back domestic championships, a national cup, a Colombia Super Cup title, and even reached the Copa Sudamericana final, where they lost against Atletico Paranaense. His fast progress also brought him to the senior national team by Arturo Reyes, Diaz’s former manager in Barranquilla FC, who was the interim coach at the end of 2018. When Carlos Queiroz was appointed as Colombia’s new coach, he couldn’t ignore the new talent and managed to give him a chance in almost every warm-up match before the Copa America.

Last year, after the Copa Sudamericana final, River Plate tried to purchase him for $6m but was rejected twice by the Colombian club. The Copa America attracts many scouts from Europe, and Diaz already stated that he would like to leave South America after the tournament. Cardiff City already had a pre-agreement with Junior, but the deal wasn’t completed. Now there are rumors that he got a $9m offer from Porto.

Now, as Colombia is getting ready ahead for Chile in the quarter-final, Queiroz’s ace is hoping to help Los Cafeteros to reach the semifinal and to justify them for being one of the favorites to win. The fairytale story of Luis Diaz became a reality and proved that dreams indeed come true.