The Ecuadorian striker Enner Valencia (San Lorenzo, 33 years old), unforeseen hero of the first week in Qatar, finished the match against the Netherlands (1-1) on a stretcher this Friday and, this time, it seems that there are no doubts about his physical problems.
In the previous one he had been diagnosed with a mild sprain in his right knee.
But not always when he has ended up assisted by doctors on a pitch, everything has been so clear.
The eventful biography of the author of the last six World Cup goals for his team — a feat that equals him with myths such as the Portuguese Eusebio (1966) and the Italian Paolo Rossi (1982) — presents a much more lurid chapter.
The events happened in 2016, in the qualifiers for Russia 2018. La Tri received Chile in Quito and, upon the arrival of the players at the Atahualpa stadium, the police tried to arrest Valencia, denounced by the mother of her daughter for delays in the payment of alimony for the value of about 17,000 dollars (about 16,300 euros at current exchange rates).
But, surprisingly, the striker managed to get out in the starting lineup.
His colleagues had helped him outwit the agents.
The day before, during the rally, his lawyers had already dodged the first arrest attempt.
He still had to leave the field in freedom, something he achieved in a scene that had a lot of operetta and that crossed borders [the video is after this paragraph].
In the 82nd minute and with 3-0 in favor of Ecuador, Valencia suddenly collapsed.
The medical services came to his aid, who took him on a stretcher, connected to an oxygen bottle... and pursued in an unprecedented sequence by a dozen police officers, who did not leave him until the hospital where he was transferred.
"He suffered dehydration due to all the pressure he had been enduring," they point out today from his environment.
At that time, he did not disclose any serious health problem, and at the end of that night his agent reported that the judge had revoked the arrest warrant.
The commotion was such that Valencia issued a harsh statement in which he assured that custody had been granted and that this annulled the pension;
that “the girl was a victim of physical and psychological violence from her mother”;
and that the minor was abandoned by her parent "to offer services for adults."
He also added that "to stop the persecution," he had handed over a property with which he covered "the alleged unpaid obligations and a check for $10,000 [about 9,600 euros]."
In 2019, it was learned that Valencia, who had just become a father for the fourth time, urgently traveled to the US to get his daughter (then seven years old) out of a temporary home for minors, where she had entered after being found by the police. police officer in a car while his mother and her partner were at a Florida casino.
What is known of him does not point to a simple life.
As a child he milked cows with his father out of economic needs — "to be able to buy his first shoes and not play barefoot," they point out from their surroundings -;
And already in soccer, when he finally entered the youth ranks of an important club, Emelec, they had to give him a quarter of the stadium for several months because he had no other place to sleep.
“A nearby store used to credit him with some food and drink.
But, the days that he didn't, he would train without having breakfast.
Then, when Sampaoli promoted him to the first team, they did give him a room and a meal plan there," they recall.
It was the Sevilla coach who made him debut at the age of 20 in the Libertadores and who gave him a surprising nickname seeing his second goal against Qatar (0-2), a very powerful header: “Cabeza de dado” (square head),
The same goals as Neymar with six games less
After all the duels and losses, he did not do badly at Emelec, he jumped to the Mexican Pachuca and in 2014, after his good World Cup (three goals, the only ones in Ecuador), he was promoted to Europe.
In the Premier, however, he did not leave a big mark.
Neither at West Ham, who paid 15 million and where he had the Spanish goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel as a makeshift translator, nor on loan at Everton.
He returned to the Mexican Tigres, until he found another opportunity at Fenerbahçe.
This campaign has added 15 goals in 22 clashes.
A career of the lot in the elite that has touched the Moon in the World Cups with Ecuador.
His numbers place him above stars that are too far away on a day-to-day basis.
He has only needed five games to score six goals, when Neymar has needed 11 and Messi, 20 to add one more.
A guy with light and a calm air who has only let one match go by without scoring (against France in 2014).
Criticized before Qatar for his poor production with La Tri (only one goal in eight recent appearances), Superman (one of his nicknames) has brought his team one step away from the last 16.
A draw against Senegal is worth it.
The rest day of this Saturday was spent in the apartment that he has rented for his family in Doha, with his parents, his partner and his four children.
If the knee leaves him, he will pursue the never seen: that the last seven goals of a country in a World Cup carry the same responsibility.
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