Thursday 02 July, 2020

In this second installment we will remember some more steps of compatriots who gave him an opportunity to discover countries with little soccer tradition, from the ephemeral experience of Mauricio Pinilla in Cyprus to the small legion of Chileans in Puerto Rico between 2005 and 2006.

Everywhere there is a Chilean. That is a phrase that is heard and read constantly. And it is not very far from reality. What’s more, football helps a lot so that it can be fully fulfilled. Recently in Soccer press We have already compiled a small compilation of some compatriots who experimented with their careers and played in leagues quite remote from the world focus of soccer.

In this second part we will remember many other steps, some successful and others more ephemeral, of Chilean soccer players who decided to enroll in adventures in the most remote corners of the world of football.

MAURICIO PINILLA (CYPRUS)
This list begins with an illustrious guest. Mauricio Pinilla spent much of his career playing in Europe, especially in Italy. As soon as he stood out at the University of Chile, the striker was sold to Inter Milan, at which point he began a journey through the ‘Old Continent’ that led him to wear many Italian and Spanish shirts.

When ‘Pinigol’ allowed himself to be a listed attacker for teams, smaller leagues began to notice him. Within these adventures, one of them powerfully attracted attention. For the 2008/09 season the player was signed as a free agent by the distant Apollon Limassol from Cyprus, where he had a rather short-lived experience.

In Cypriot lands, Pinilla only managed to play 5 games, where he managed to score 2 goals. But his trip through that country did not leave good feelings, although it opened the doors of Italian football to him again. In less than six months the attacker signed for Grosseto, Italy’s Serie B club where he finally exploited his numbers and allowed him to settle once and for all in European football.

DANTE POLI, SEBASTIÁN ROZENTAL, ARTURO NORAMBUENA (PUERTO RICO)
Historically, there have been countries where there have been large legions of Chilean soccer players. Due to geographic proximity, Argentina and Brazil stand out. We can also count dozens of compatriots who have played in Mexico, Italy or Spain. But a land that was unexplored, from one moment to another became fertile land for up to five nationals at the same time.

During 2005, two Chilean soccer players who were carrying a career full of injuries decided to try their luck in Puerto Rico. They were Dante Poli and Sebastián Rozental, members of the remembered Selection sub 17 of 1993. Reaching the final stretch of their periods as footballers, both enrolled in the ranks of the Puerto Rico Islanders.

Shortly after, in 2006 they joined the ‘Engineer’ Arturo Norambuena, who had already left behind his best days at the Catholic University, arrived in the Caribbean island to turn it into a Chilean area. Along with him, Kormac Valdebenito and Mauricio Segovia also arrived.

For most of these players this step served more as a way to lower the intensity in their careers, to the point that Poli and Norambuena retired in that club, in 2006 and 2007 respectively. For his part, Rozental wanted to extend his stage as a player a little more, which led him to another exotic destination such as the Israel League, where he visited the shirts of Maccabi Petah-Tikvah and Maccabi Netanya.

YASHIR PINTO (MALAYSIA, INDONESIA)
One who learned to live away from home is Yashir Pinto. The 29-year-old forward, who currently defends the colors of the Palestine team, burst into the Colo Colo first team in 2006 as one of the great promises of the Alba youth team. Although he was never able to consolidate himself into the primer Cacique ’first team, the doors of the world were opened wide.

His first experience away from Chile was 2012, when he signed for Canadian FC Edmonton. In that club that disputes the North American Soccer League he played 23 games scoring 4 goals. After a short return to Chile in 2013, for 2014 the doors were reopened, this time to travel to Europe. He joined the ranks of the Bahlinger of the fifth division of Germany, scoring 5 goals in 19 games.

After a new return to Chile, in 2016 he took his bags and began his flight to Southeast Asia, an area in which he ended up settling. Since that year, Yashir Pinto registers steps for Malaysian soccer, specifically in the clubs Malacca United (5 goals in 14 games), Perak FA (6 goals in 26 games) and PKNP FC (8 goals in 33 games).

He currently works as a forward for the Barito Putera of Indonesia, where he did not manage to play many games before the arrest of soccer due to the coronavirus pandemic, as he recently explained in an interview with Soccer press. In addition, since 2016 he has been selected a Palestinian, scoring 7 goals in 20 international matches for this country.

HUGO DROGUETT (SOUTH KOREA)
Another of the soccer players who managed to make a name for himself in distant lands was Hugo Droguett. The current Sports Temuco player has left the country several times, in addition to having a long and long history in clubs in the national environment. But his most exotic experience was in the South Korean K-League, where he defended two clubs in two separate terms.

The first time that Droguett took the course and played in Asia was in 2012. After almost five years playing in Mexico, his last experience in that country with Cruz Azul was not positive enough, so he had to look for alternatives. This was how he signed for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, where he played 42 games and scored 10 goals.

He returned to the American continent to play for Colombia’s América de Cali and then for Cobreloa in our country. But not satisfied with that, and after leaving good feelings in Korea, Jeju United knocked on his door in 2014 and the player returned to travel to that country. With this club it played 36 parties, writing down other 10 goals more.

LEONARDO ZAMORA (EGYPT)
Africa has never been a highly desired land for the Chilean footballer. In the previous installment we remembered the particular passage of Jorge Acuña by the Mameoldi Sundowns from South Africa, which seemed to be unique in its kind. But a few years ago there was another compatriot who joined the ranks of an African club, although at the other end of the continent.

Goalkeeper Leonardo Zamora had a particular adventure in Egypt during the 2010/11 season. At 34 at the time, the goalkeeper told Emol at the time that his arrival at Smouha in that country was « an opportunity to grow personally and financially. »

The truth is that Zamora’s passage through Egyptian football ended up being quite bumpy. Due to the social crisis that Egypt experienced at that time, the footballer had to make the determination to end his contract early, returning to Chile in 2011 to sign for Curicó Unido, club in which he retired that same year.

DIEGO OYARZÚN (LITHUANIA)
Defender Diego Oyarzún’s adventure is much more recent than the previous ones. At a time when the successes of Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sánchez or Charles Aránguiz in Europe took all eyes, the case of the current player from Huachipato is quite remarkable.

After a career start that led him to spend time in various national clubs such as Universidad Católica, San Marcos de Arica and Palestino, in 2017 the player made the radical decision to try his luck abroad in the little-known Lithuanian league. In that country he was part of the Zalgiris squad, the most important club in the championship.

Oyarzún’s adventure in Lithuanian lands lasted only one season, in which he even managed to play previous Champions League rounds with his team. In that period, the player managed to play 16 games until he suffered a sprain in his right knee, which slowed his settlement in the team and forced him to back down his desire to continue. He finally returned to Chile in 2018.