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Yerry Mina played for Colombia in the 2018 World Cup. 

Yerry Mina reclaimed his star status in Russia 2018

Colombian defenseman Yerry Mina was the leader of a national squad that was once again not lucky enough to reach the tournament’s elite eight.

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European soccer clubs enforce tyranny on the rest of planet football, dominating the sport’s landscape at their own whim.

Any doubts about that?

Just go back less than a month ago to see how arrogant Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez exploited the Spanish National Team three days before World Cup competition started. Pérez stole away head coach Julen Lopetegui, paying him more than twice the salary he received from the Spanish Federation to guide the country’s national squad.  

In recent centuries, many European immigrants left everything to look for fortune on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Now, in the world of soccer, it is the opposite.

Many players developed on the American continent are ready to jump on a plane to search for European treasures. If the club knocking at their doors is one of the almighty - Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid or FC Barcelona - things look even better.

However, success is never guaranteed.    

Yerry Mina was the center of one of these stories. After two successful seasons with Brazil’s Palmeiras, the tall Colombian defenseman signed with Barça in January. With the Catalan club at the top of the Spanish League and ready to play the round of 16 of the Champions League, things could not have looked better for Yerry.  

But the reality was not exactly what the 23-year-old Colombian dreamed it would be.

He only played in six games and could not score even once. Arguments for his failure were many: lack of speed, inadequate touching of the ball… The truth is that FC Barcelona wasted the investment, including Mina’s ability to head the ball in free kicks.

The World Cup always brings great stories — great and unexpected. Among them are those in which players regain their value, shining with their national squads where they do not need to prove anything to anyone, where they do not need to cope with the tough atmosphere experienced in the great European clubs.

Russia 2018 has shown us several of these stories, but none as good as the one lived by Yerry Mina.

Playing only three games, the center defenseman recorded three key goals for Colombia. First, he led his nation to win the challenging Group H. Then, he forced overtime on the first knockout game against England in which Colombia failed in penalty kicks.

The warm feelings of his whole country allowed Yerry to reclaim the confidence he lost in his first European adventure, encouraging him to face a new season on the Old Continent. Additionally, FC Barcelona is thrilled with the fact that one of its players regained his financial cachet thanks to shining in the World Cup.

In any case, the story of this Colombian young man is, for me, one of the highlights of Russia 2018. Who would have guessed before the tournament that going into the quarterfinals the last name of Barça’s top scorer was going to be Mina, instead of Messi, Suarez or Coutinho?

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