Orbelín Pineda, from dribbling cows and being Ronaldinho’s apprentice to being signed by Celta de Vigo


The soccer player Orbelin Pineda in the match between Mexico and Honduras, at the Azteca stadium, during the World Cup qualifying rounds.
The soccer player Orbelin Pineda in the match between Mexico and Honduras, at the Azteca stadium, during the World Cup qualifying rounds.YOALI MARTINEZ (Getty Images)

The first teachers of Orbelín Pineda were in the field. His family was entrusted to livestock in Coyuca de Catalán, in the State of Guerrero. Pineda, 25, learned to haggle among cows and with his brothers. His irruption in football occurred away from home when he was part of the Querétaro club and there he had an unusual teacher of joy for the ball, Ronaldinho.

Pineda, part of the Mexican national team, is one of the best-developed talents in Mexican soccer. He debuted when he was just 18 years old. In the locker room he coincided with Ronaldinho, the Brazilian star who was already experiencing the twilight of his career but who was still sparking. That squad reached its first Liga MX final in 2015, with the former Barcelona player as the banner. “I had to sit in the dining room with him and I was afraid that I would drop my omelette or my plate. I remember that I had to be with the [selección] Under 17, I came to Querétaro to join me and he said: ‘What? Are you no longer saying hello? ‘ I always saw him smiling, “Pineda said in an interview with TUDN. Ronaldinho left the club with problems with the board; Pineda stayed absorbing the teachings of another Brazilian, Antonio Naelson Sinha, a born 10 who knew how to organize the game.

Rookie Pineda made his way into Mexican soccer thanks to his self-confidence with the ball and he got the opportunity to sign for one of the great Mexican clubs, the Chivas de Guadalajara. With the rojiblancos he won the league and cup double, in addition to the maximum Concacaf tournament that allowed him to play the Club World Cup.

Its quality set off the alarms of international recruiters and viewers. In 2016, the English press highlighted that Orbelín Pineda was one of the future candidates of Pep Guardiola, Manchester City manager. The Mexican soccer player, however, left Guadalajara but to stay in his country. Cruz Azul signed him in 2018 with the hope of breaking a curse of more than 20 years without winning the League. Pineda and his creativity were key for the cement company team to win its long-suffering trophy in 2021.

Orbelín Pineda, during a match with Cruz Azul.
Orbelín Pineda, during a match with Cruz Azul.Eloisa Sanchez de Alba (Getty Images)

Pineda also symbolizes the change of times in Mexico. His contract expired in early 2022 and he was free to negotiate with another club. It seems like a no-brainer, but for decades in Mexican soccer there was a lock on players who wanted to sign with another club. This was known as the gentlemen’s agreement, a strategy of the owners of Mexican soccer to prevent players from negotiating their exit. “We were left with a bad taste in our mouths with his departure,” said Víctor Velázquez, one of Cruz Azul’s senior officers. “I’m going well from Cruz Azul, I left a star on the shield, I went out the front door,” replied the Mexican.

Celta de Vigo signed the Mexican as a free player for the next five years. He will coincide with his compatriot, defender Néstor Araujo and with Argentine coach Eduardo Coudet, who carved out a career in Mexican soccer in his days as a footballer. Orbelín Pineda, lover of jaripeo [el espectáculo de charrería], he will start from scratch, as in his rookie days, to earn a place.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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