The Major League Soccer from USA It is one of those tournaments that is characterized by having international figures that monopolize the world marquee with the brilliance of its protagonists. Stars of hierarchy with past in Europe or talented promises who threaten to become future cracks make up a dynamic contest that maintains constant growth and captivates millions of fans. And, after the end of the regular season, an Argentine with no football background in his country was left with the Golden Boot thanks to the 19 achievements that he scored wearing the shirt of the New York City FC.
Valentin Castellanos He was the most outstanding soccer player of the championship in the northern country. The forward of Guaymallen inflated the networks of his rivals in 19 times and allowed the New York set to access the Playoffs, where you will face Atlanta United in search of the quarterfinals.
But before his offensive blast, the young man who was trained in an amateur club of the Second Division of the Mendoza League He set out on his maximum adventure during his adolescence and on the other side of the Andes Mountains began a career full of success and recognition.
His beginnings in the You de Chile, its passage through Montevideo City Torque, arrival at MLS where he was received by him Gourd Villa and its consecration in the Pre-Olympic of Colombia were some of the topics that the Daddy in dialogue with Infobae.
—What does it mean to receive the Golden Boot in a league full of figures?
—It is a happiness from the personal and group aspect, because it served as an aid to qualify for the Playoffs. It was something fundamental for my career and I try to enjoy it to the fullest with my family, friends and the people of the club, because without my teammates I would not have been able to achieve it. Without a doubt, it is a recognition of the good work that was done during the year. They were 5 months of playing Wednesdays and Saturdays, which generated a lot of wear and tear; that’s why we had to focus a lot on physical appearance and rest. And luckily its fruits were seen.
—What analysis can you make of the game? America’s soccer is sometimes underestimated …
—The centrals of most of the teams are characterized by their rudeness. I constantly bump into them, because it is a very physical league. In the last three or four years it has grown a lot, because it is no longer a place where players come to retire, but it is a very powerful tournament that continues to grow day by day.
—You were the top scorer in a tournament that had forwards like Pipita Higuaín, Sebastián Driussi, Gustavo Bou, Chicharito Hernández and Raúl Ruidíaz, how does it feel to beat that type of player?
-Is incredible. I particularly like the way Lucas Zelarrayán, from Columbus Crew, plays, but there are also the Higuain brothers at Inter Miami, who have a huge hierarchy. Anyway, it is not only Pipita who stands out as a figure because of his past in the National Team, but there are others like Ruidiaz in Seattle Sounders or Kamara in DC United who scored many goals during the regular season.
—When you arrived at New York City you shared the dressing room with David Villa, how was the coexistence with the Spaniard who won the World Cup in South Africa?
-With the Gourd I was there for six months. He is an international icon that shone everywhere he has been. I enjoyed it a lot. I remember that the first day when I arrived, he was in the gym because he was recovering from a knee problem and when he saw me stretching, he grabbed me from behind, gave me a hug and threw me a “Welcome Tati” that dislodged me. He was the captain of the team and I couldn’t believe it! I looked at him and thought about the times I have played in the Play with him and now he was in front of him and he knew my name … It was very crazy.
—Today you have to share a squad with players from Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, the United States, Iceland, Canada, Libya… the coach is from Norway, how is coexistence in that dressing room?
—There is a great variety of nationalities, but we are also like 10 South Americans who understand each other a lot. It is a club with a lot of language and a lot of culture, which allows us to learn new things every day.
—And who handles music?
“We handle it with Maxi Moralez.” We play a lot of reggaeton and cumbia, but sometimes we look for things from La Beriso or You will not like it, which is quieter to have a few mates. At eight thirty in the morning it does not make so much noise. Most have fun with what we wear.
—How much do you enjoy the anonymity that living in a city like New York gives you? In other places, maybe football is lived differently …
“It is an incredible city.” In the United States, soccer is not lived as it is lived in Argentina, because the fans are not so sick with the passion that they carry in their blood. Maybe if they recognize you on the street, they just stare and are in a hurry to ask for a photo. That gives you certain freedoms in your private life, because when you go to a restaurant or to the cinema, you don’t feel the permanent harassment. It is an enormous tranquility and I think that is why many stars come to play here.
—Is it a pending account to play in Argentina?
-Yes, sure. I always had that little bit pending to play in an Argentine team. I would like to be able to achieve it in the future, but not now because I have been living abroad for 6 years and I try to continue my career abroad. Maybe tomorrow I would like to close my stage as a footballer in my country.
—And the economic reality of Argentina does not help …
“Yes, it’s another point of analysis.” Today the footballer’s career has changed a lot. Now a player does not retire at 33, but can be extended to 38 or 40 years. While it is still a short race, I think the moments should also be enjoyed. That is why it is important to take care of yourself from all aspects, to arrive physically well.
—At least you could wear the shirt of the National Team in the Pre-Olympic of Colombia …
—Yes, in 2019 I had my best season in New York City and I had the opportunity to go to the Sub 23. It was a process of many friendlies before the Pre-Olympic that was played in Colombia. Bocha Batista took me on a tour of Spain and Mexico. The truth is that an incredible group was formed with which the objective was achieved. I even still have friends with Mati Zaracho, Fausto Vera, Facu Cambeses, Agus Urzi and most of the boys …
—How did your career happen abroad?
—He played for Murial de Mendoza, which is a team in the Second Division of the League. It was all very amateurish, from the neighborhood. As I was lucky enough to stand out on the weekends in games, the coach, who was Tony Torres, had contacts with Diego Rivarola, who is a historian from the U of Chile, and they took me to do some tests. Thank God things worked out well. As it was close to Mendoza, I went for two weeks and stayed for a year and a half.
—You crossed the Andes Mountains to reach one of the largest teams in South America, were you aware of that?
—It was a very extensive process, because I spent the first 10 months without being able to play, because I was a minor and did not have the permission of FIFA. As I was a foreigner and had not played for any Argentine club, I had to wait until I was 18 to sign my first contract. A few months later I started training with the Primera squad and then the opportunity came to go on loan to Torque, which was a very beautiful stage in my life.
—And in Uruguay the possibility of MLS was opened to you by playing in the team that belongs to the owners of New York City
-It’s true. If I had stayed at the University of Chile, maybe I wouldn’t be here today. My time at Torque made me grow a lot. I got tanned. It is a very humble team in which everything was very new. I met amazing people, because it was all very familiar. As I was very comfortable, I was able to have a spectacular season and as he belongs to the Manchester City group, I had additional motivation.
—Are you aware of the possibility that opens up to you? Maybe tomorrow you can play for Pep Guardiola’s team
—From the moment I arrived at Montevideo City Torque, I set my goal to reach Manchester City. The good news is that there are several teams that belong to the business group that can serve as preliminary stopovers. It is a very nice process, which generates a very great motivation.
—To do this, one of the closest goals is to seek the title in the MLS …
“Yes, you have to go little by little.” Now we will play the round of 16 against Atlante United, which will be a very nice game, because it will be played on our court with the support of our people. Our goal is to reach the semifinals, which is an instance that the club could never access.
—One of the theories about Lionel Messi is that he might end his MLS career, what would it mean for you to have him around?
“It’s the dream I’ve always had.” I would love to meet him personally one day. I don’t know if it will happen here or anywhere in the world. I imagine that if at some point he decides to play in the MLS, surely I am gone. Maybe he should sign a contract with New York City in which he puts a clause of being able to be if Leo comes to play here. But hopefully I can cross it in Europe.