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Long journey pays off for Pedroza

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Tim Vickery | 10:21 UK time, Monday, 16 May 2011

The fascinating 51-year history of the Copa Libertadores has now been further enriched by the emergence of a goalscorer born in England.

Antonio Pedroza's journey has taken him from Chester to Chiapas, the town of his birth to the region in the south of Mexico where he now plays as a striker for Jaguares.

The son of a Mexican father and an English mother, Pedroza ensured that the club's debut campaign in the Libertadores got off to a good start when, just before his 20th birthday, he scored in both legs of their qualifying match against Alianza Lima of Peru.

But then little was seen of him - until last week's quarter-final first leg at home to Cerro Porteno of Paraguay.

The game between Cerro Porteno and Jaguares was a close-fought affair - photo: Reuters

His chances of getting a game improved when Jackson Martinez, the team's excellent Colombian centre-forward, was sent off in the previous match and thus suspended for the first leg against Cerro.

Pedroza was on the bench, and after Jaguares made next to no impression in the first half, he was brought on at the interval. His pace and willingness made an impression, but whenever he got himself into a good position he was in too much of a hurry and the opportunities were lost.

As the game moved into stoppage time it seemed that Jaguares were sure to go down to a disappointing 1-0 defeat, but then came a moment of finishing of which one-time Chester City striker Ian Rush would have been proud. Pedroza is no giant, but when a cross came in from the left he climbed above the Paraguayan defence and powered a header in off the far post.

And so Cerro were denied a first-leg victory that looked to be theirs when Jonathan Fabbro's side-footed volley took a deflection past the Jaguares keeper.

There is no English connection with Fabbro. He is an old style Argentine playmaker. But veteran observers of English football will know the type. With his lank hair, shirt outside his shorts and flashes of talent mixed with hand-on-his-hips petulance, Fabbro could have stepped out of a sticker album from early 70s England, alongside the likes of Charlie George and Rodney Marsh.

You could imagine him fitting in to the Queens Park Rangers team of the time, and helping Stan Bowles spend his money down the bookies after training.

One player it would be very unwise to bet on is Fabbro himself. Inconsistency is part of his nature. Now 29, he has had a nomadic career, taking in Spain, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Chile as well as his native Argentina and Paraguay, where he has settled and played some of his best football over the past four years.

In his time in Colombia he was part of the Once Caldas squad that were surprise winners of the Libertadores in 2004, though he spent most of the campaign on the bench. At the end of the year, though, he was in the starting line up when the Colombians took on Porto in Japan in the old Inter-Continental Cup.

After 120 goalless minutes, the game went to penalties. Once Caldas had played the cautious, counter-attacking game typical of that 2004 team. Their most incisive moments had come from Fabbro's passes. The side's leading talent, he was the last of their five designated penalty takers.

Fabbro has not always done full justice to the talent he possesses - photo: Reuters

Just before his turn, Porto's Maniche blasted his shot against the bar. All Fabbro had to do was place his shot beyond Porto's reserve keeper - first choice Vitor Baia was forced off during the game - and a provincial club from the small Colombian town of Manizales would be entitled to call themselves champions of the world. He hit the post, and after four penalties each in sudden death, Porto took the title.

That same inconsistecy has been in evidence during this year's Libertadores. At home to Santos of Brazil, for example, Fabbro was a disaster. He tried to do everything himself and achieved nothing. It was a performance so poor that it might be worthy of being awarded one out of 10 purely for remembering to put his shirt on the right way round.

The following week, though, he was irresistible. To make the knock out stages Cerro needed to win away to Chile's free-scoring Colo Colo, and they soon found themselves two goals down. Fabbro dug them out of the hole. He set up one goal with a clever pass, and scored two crackers of his own, the second a high pressure 88th minute free-kick. It was nearly 10 out of 10 stuff.

Cerro Porteno fans will hope that he can keep delivering. The stakes are high. Five times the club have reached the semi-finals of the Libertadores and have never gone further. Big local rivals Olimpia have won the trophy three times, and never miss an opportunity to remind Cerro's fans of the fact.

But can a side built around the playmaking of Fabbro ever be sufficiently consistent to go all the way? There is a young striker born in Chester who plans to ensure they will not even reach this year's semi-finals.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:

Q) I would like to know if there are claims or cases of age cheating in
South American teams presented at the various CONMEBOL or
Fifa-organised youth competitions.
Nathan Quao

A) There certainly have been - especially in Brazil. When they won the 2003 World Youth Cup, one of their players (midfielder Carlos Alberto) was closer to 30 than 20! There have been a number of cases of this kind of age fixing, usually the work of unscrupulous agents. Ecuador has also had problems - current national team captain Walter Ayovi was caught playing under a false identity a decade ago.

Q) I regularly watch Latin American and Spanish football and i am enchanted and mesmerised by the genius of Ever Banega. For such a young player, his plays like a veteran, possessing an experience and understanding of the game vastly beyond his years but with the lung capacity of a young player. I was disappointed to not seem him included in the World Cup. Surely he has outgrown Valencia and isn't always given the chance his talent deserves. How do you evaluate his career and his future?
Balarama Chambers

A) I'm a huge, huge fan. The first time I saw him, playing for Argentina's Under-20s, within 20 seconds he was in my notebook for his ability to play a pass. More than Zanetti or Cambiasso, I thought he was the most baffling omission from Argentina's World Cup squad - an error happily corrected right away by Sergio Batista. I'm really looking forward to watching him in the coming Copa America - I think he's capable of giving Messi the same quality of service that he receives from Xavi at Barcelona.


  • Comment number 1.

    Is this the same Carlos Alberto that played for Porto back then? I wondered what happened to him, i guess he's retired now!!haha

  • Comment number 2.

    1. At 11:28am 16th May 2011, DiegoforUtd wrote
    Is this the same Carlos Alberto that played for Porto back then? I wondered what happened to him, i guess he's retired now!!haha


    No, the Brazilian player Tim is referring to who was over-age at that tournament was Carlos Alberto de Oliveira Júnior, who now plays for Goias in Brazil and is now 33.

    The player you're thinking of is Carlos Alberto de Jesus, who after FC Porto went on to play for Corinthians, Werder Bremen and Vasco da Gama, and now plays for Gremio on loan. He's now 26.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hey Phil,

    Can you tell me the difference between a sauce bearnaise and a sauce hollandaise please.
    I think one has chervil and the other tarragon but that might not be right.


  • Comment number 4.

    When I was back home last time Tim, a mate of mine still had those albums in a box in his attic! We were taking a nostalgic look! The '74 World Cup Panini sticker album including photos of Gerd Muller and Lato, not to mention the Haiti team, spring to mind! There were also the cards with the thin, obviously cheaply made wafer thin hard sticks of chewing gum. Along with Stan Bowles, I remember the expectation of opening up the new packet, and disappointment on finding it was yet another Terry Mancini on top of the 5 or 6 I already had! You might throw in Georgie and Tony Curry alongside Charlie, Rodney and Stan too!

    Re: Fabbro, it's phenomenal the number of quality Brazilian and Argentinian players plying their trades in foreign leagues all around the globe, and makes you wonder if this is actually more beneficial for the national team than if they all play in their domestic league! I forget his name, but the South American team Manchester United beat here in Japan in the World Club Cup thing a few years ago had a very good Argentinian playmaker, who I'm sure would have been well down the pecking order for national selection.

    How does Jaguares' playing style compare to that of the South Americans'?

  • Comment number 5.

    "I think [Éver Banega] capable of giving Messi the same quality of service that he receives from Xavi at Barcelona"


    I'd agree that Banega is good, but Xavi is arguably one of the greatest midfielders of all time. Banega has a long way to go before he reaches that level.

  • Comment number 6.

    @Vox Populi: Carlos Alberto was fired from Grêmio already (only stayed for some 3 months or less)

    He is currently unemployed as far as I know, since Vasco doesnt want him back.

  • Comment number 7.


    Looks like a last four of

    Santos v Jaguares and Velez Sarsfield v Penarol

    Penarol have surprised me in this tournament as i believe they were seeded 14 after the Group stages but saying that; Santos were only 9, Sarsfield 10 and Jaguares 13.

    Is it fair to say the Libertadores of 2011 is the most open for a long while?

  • Comment number 8.

    Hello Tim, Lucas Pratto is currently on loan at Catolica from Boca. Considering his showing in the Libertadores this season, does he have a future at Boca? Possibly a replacement for San Martin at Boca. Also with El Diego taking over here in Dubai, any chance we could see some of this World Cup players come here?

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm an Once Caldas supporter... we were champions of the world for one minute

  • Comment number 10.

    3 - i have the same approach to cooking as i have to DIY - it's called GSETDIFY - get someone else to do it for you.

    8 - I would have thought Pratto does have a future at Boca, with his performances in the Libertadores and the imminent retirement of Palermo - who celebrated his last game v River Plate yesterday with a cute headed goal.

  • Comment number 11.

    What a beautifully written article Tim. This is closer to literature than journalism. Great stuff!
    Wonder if Santos will make the semis. Going by the previous round, winning in Colombia is no guarantee of success, and the team had two more players crocked playing against Corinthians on Sunday, they having taken out Ganso the previous weekend. And I wonder what winning the (largely meaningless) state championship will do for the side. On the one hand, it will provide a confidence boost, but there is always the danger of that euphoria hangover that so often sees teams underperform in the wake of winning a title.

    Personally, I do believe it is fair to say this is the most open Libertadores in some while - the question raised by No.7. How far do we have to go back to find 4 semi-finalists from 4 different countries (which I agree looks likely), just for a start?

  • Comment number 12.

    @7 hold your horses! Cerro Porteño will definitely beat Jaguares at home, the Mexicans have been poor throughout the tournament, they even lost to a Bolivian 2nd division side (Jorge Wilstermann)

    Cerro will certainly be in the semi's and I'm not just saying that because I support them!

    Great point Tim about Fabbro I love watching him when he's on form and he does have a bit of Charlie George about him now that you mention it!

  • Comment number 13.

    So nobody wants to talk about this lad Pedroza? Presumably having been born in England and raised in Mexico would make him eligible for either national side. So Tim, do you think he'd be good enough or even just the right kind of player to fit in with the England squad?

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.


    Jaguares finished bottom of the Mexican league and are one of the worst sides I have seen in Mexico. Pedroza does not even get a regular first team spot. He would never get into the Mexican team (or even Sheffield Utd) let alone England!

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Sounds like a English Hernandez to me, Tim. :P

  • Comment number 18.

    #4- that Argentine playmaker you were talking about is Damian Manso who played brilliantly for Liga de Quito. I had to mention him because he originally came from my club Newell's Old Boys. Ironically Manso is now playing for...Jaguares in Mexico! But first with Pachuca and now Jaguares, both clubs from Mexico, Manso has not been able to reproduce the form he showed with Liga de Quito and that has always been a problem which Manso shares with Fabbro, they are inconsistent. A shame because both are talented players.

    #15- Two reasons Jaguares finished so poorly in the Mexican league season, one they do not have the depth to compete adequately in both the league and Libertadores and two their best player, Jackson Martinez, the Colombian striker missed almost all of the league season with injury. He got healthy for the octave finals of the Libertadores and was the prinicipal reason Jaguares eliminated Atletico Junior.

    Tim, I heard an interview which Antonio Pedroza gave to ESPN Deportes Radio and he mentioned that England's U20 coach had contacted him about possibly playing for England at this summer's U20 World Cup. When asked if he would rather play for England or Mexico, Pedroza's reply was he would be happy to play for either but would likely opt for whichever team first invites him!

  • Comment number 19.


    Jaguares are ranked 16 out of the 18 for the last 3 seasons (102 league games) in the porcentajes relegation table. This libertadores counts for a handful of these games. They are extremely lucky to be in the cup in the first place and have never been a force in Mexican football. Until the best Mexican teams compete in the Copa Sud America and the Libertadores then South America will never see the best of Mexican club football.

  • Comment number 20.

    #18, thanks for that rosarino.

  • Comment number 21.

    Great article as usual. Any chance Capello will even look at Pedroza?

  • Comment number 22.

    #19- In the 2010 Copa Libertadores Monterrey, then the current Mexican league champions (they had won the Apertura title in December 2009) did not get out of their group. So Mexico have sent their best clubs into the competition before. Jaguares by the way qualified for this year's Libertadores because of their high finish in the 2010 Apertura season where they finished with the 6th best overall record in league. The top three that season (Cruz Azul, Monterrey and Santos Laguna were already competing in the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League, a tourney which Monterrey won last month, and thus were ineligible for the current Libertadores) the next three best placed clubs: America, San Luis and Jaguares were Mexico's 3 Libertadores representatives this year. So Jaguares have indeed earned their place and they are proving on the field of play that they can be a competitive club in the Copa Libertadores.

    #20- you are welcome drooper. I have always liked watching Damian Manso play. If he can ever regain the form he had with Liga de Quito he will help some club a great deal.

  • Comment number 23.


    Indeed, Jaguares fairly qualified. However, a points average of 1.1 over the last 3 years speaks for itself. (San Luis is another example of a team in the Libertadores that has been struggling over the last couple of seasons). I believe that the best teams should play in the Libertadores, not the Champions League. There is no way Jaguares (or San Luis) are any where near as good as Toluca, Pumas, Cruz Azul, Chivas, Monterrey, Pachuca, Club America, Chivas or Santos.

  • Comment number 24.

    @ #15, so what you're saying is that it may be worth Craig Levein's time to see if he has a Scottish grandparent? lock him in Craig!

  • Comment number 25.

    I don't think Jaguares made any impression in the first half, and then he was brought on at the interval. gets into decent positions then pokes it.
    tattoo designs

  • Comment number 26.

    23 - Though I certainly see the logic in what you're saying, surely Mexico's first loyalty has to be to its own federation? It's a shame club football is still relatively weak in the other North American countries but it ain't gonna get any stronger by the strongest league represented sending its best clubs to play somewhere else.

    It does seem odd Jaguares playing in Libertadores, though. It's like sending Wigan or Blackpool to play in the champions league (no offence to any Wigan or Blackpool fans - hope you get what I'm saying)

  • Comment number 27.

    Tim, I'll be in Mexico for a week from this Friday.

    Is there any chance of me caching any live football nearby to Cancun at this time of year?

  • Comment number 28.

    27 - short answer is no as the season is nearly finished and Atlante (who play in Cancun) didn't make the play-offs. There is only one game left, the final, between the mighty Pumas de la UNAM based in Mexico City playing Monarcas of Morelia, which is even further away than Mexico City. But of course it'll be on tv there. The first leg in Morelia is on Thursday and the second leg is sunday.

    The Yucatan peninsula is really more of a baseball place anyway.

  • Comment number 29.

    "The Football Association hope to convince Chester-born Jaguares de Chiapas striker Antonio Michael Pedroza Whitham, 20, to play for England should he fail to make the breakthrough with Mexico.
    Full story: Daily Mail"

    The hacks have been reading your articles Tim ;)

  • Comment number 30.


    The season is all but over now. The play off finals in both divisions are all that's left and they are not being played in the east of the country.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think that a Bernais sauce uses herbs whilst Hollandaise only uses lemon juice.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hey Tim, I was wondering if you could please give me some information on Brazilian player Ilsinho? I've watched a few Shakhtar Donetsk games over the last couple of years and was impressed with him every time I saw him play. I heard that he signed for São Paulo last year. Can you give me any insight as to why he returned to Brazil, how he has fared since returning to his homeland and your opinions in general on him as a player? Many thanks.

  • Comment number 33.

    Maybe some would be interested to know that Fabbro means Blacksmith in Italian, and his grandparents probably came from Italy's Friuli Venezia Giulia.

  • Comment number 34.

    Fabbro reminds me of El Rifle Pandolfi, ex Velez.

  • Comment number 35.

    Carlitos Tevez once said that the player he liked to play the most with, was Fabbro, they understood each other perfectly on the pitch as they played together in the Boca Juniors lower divisions. Tevez made it into the first team while Fabbro didn't, so, he went to Once Caldas.

  • Comment number 36.

    Hi Tim, I was wondering If you know anything about Seth Burkett who is an English player currently playing in Brazil and how well he is getting on over there.

  • Comment number 37.

    GSETDIFY - get someone else to do it for you.

    Tim as much as I would hate to see you leave, you sound as if you understand the South American way.

  • Comment number 38.

    @7 What makes you think Jaguares will beat Cerro in the away leg? They were terrible at home, can't see them turning round. Maybe a lot depends on Fabbro, but I think Cerro will just be too much for them here.

    It'll be interesting to see if Pedroza fits into and English team. His playing style must be very different to English players of his age. I wonder what his English is like? I read that he moved to mexico when he was 2.

  • Comment number 39.

    I see Tim and his Brasilian buddies continue with their waffle on Brasilian domination.Che you are doing really well Brasil has now 14 titles to Argentinas 22.The only real reasons Argentinas clubs havent completely dominated as usual in the last few years is the collapse of the big 5 and the incredible competitiveness of Argentinas first division as the Brasucas stroll thru meaningless provincial tournaments.Now when they have to play a competive game or two they moan moan moanWell heres a moan if we had Di Stefano,Sivori,Rial,Dominguez,Angelillo and co Brasil would never have won in Sweden.Anyway let me offer my congratulations to all our Brasilian fans on their domination of the Copa

  • Comment number 40.

    32 - I am a São Paulo supporter, so I think I can help. Ilsinho left Shakhtar after a decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. I don't know exactly what happened there. He's playing as a right midfielder, and he's in the first team. I am not really a fan of Ilsinho. His dribbling skills are very good, but that's all he is able to do.

  • Comment number 41.

    @27 the only team who plays in cancun is Atlante, currently living in Guadalajara, home of Chicharito, and was in Cancun over Easter. Managed to catch an Atlante game, a 2-1 win over Toluca. Cost about £3 entry, fantastic atmosphere and even bumped into an English ex-pat from pompey! Unfortunately they were knocked out of the play-offs a week or so ago to surprise package Morelia so you won't be able to catch any matches. If you're ever out here during the season I'd fully reccommend attending a game though, the cheaper seats have the best atmosphere, I've paid between 50p and £10 for various games around the country.

  • Comment number 42.

    Tim, with Chelsea linked with all things Brazilian at the moment I was wondering what you think of Kaka being linked with making a move to SW6? A great at his best but can he get back to the top of his game and will he cut the mustard in the EPL??

  • Comment number 43.

    #42 It would be sad to see Kaka make a move to Chelsea or Man City, basically only for the money. He didn't look like he wanted to leave Milan in the first place as it is. It's like Shevchenko, a great player for many years, but on the downward slope when he went to Chelsea and never showed his best side. Especially as Drogba was at the top of his game. Sheva set himself up for a character assassination by the english press that his career and achievements didn't deserve, but maybe he just couldn't resist the lure of a much bigger pay packet or the thought that English defenders would be much easier to get past than the catenaccio trained italians.

    Kaka will most likely suffer the same ignomy. I would advise him to stay in Spain, or go home for a recuperative year or two to regain his passion for the sport. He can still be very useful, he's not too old. Is he even 30 yet?

    Was Sergey Rebrov a rubbish player because he had a failed year at Spurs? Arguably not, but I imagine most people who follow the EPL think so. However, he scored a hat trick at the Camp Nou, destroyed many a team home and away, but came to a team who had changed managers (to the most arrogant egomaniac in England) between the agreement of the transfer and his arrival.

  • Comment number 44.

    This is another case of English talent making their trade out of the English Football system and in foreign system. We in England are too engaged with Foreign Imports and lack luster with our own crops.

    The Key point here is Foreign players are willing to sacrifice everything and leaving their mother land and seize upon opportunities where the home talent aint as hungry as them. The English FA try and concentrate about this Burton place being the building blocks for english talent and limiting foreign players in the 23 man squad of the premier league teams. This still wont stop Man city spending outside and others too.
    I attend a lot of Football trials and a lot of talent is wasted at every trials. A scout once said to a player you have more chance of making it outside the UK start your trade overseas then build upon that.

    I really doubt English players or talented potential football players from here in england will ever take the risk in moving and starting their trade outside, I think thats why you see the whole Brazilian squad more in europe than Brazil same again to Argentina. Again why dont English players transfer to La liga or Seria A clubs when clubs start calling and would rather play in the premier league, I dont know,so i guess we will have to wait a very long time until we see England win the world cup and not Brazil or Argentina.

  • Comment number 45.

    Kaka should do something a little bit different like Raul and Van Der Vaart did and join a team that really needs some inspiration and where he can be the main man and focus on his football rather than being a trophy acquisition for a sugar daddy on a whim. Whether that would result in him "going home" to Brazil or joining a slightly smaller club accross one of the European Leagues I'm not so sure but he deserves to feel loved again after his injury struggles. To go from being adored in Milan to being in the shadow of Ronaldo just days after his arrival can't leave him feeling too positive.

    Question is - would Madrid let him go for anything less than a crazy fee that only the likes of City and Chelsea could/would pay. They did with the 3 Dutch maestro's but Kaka was a marquee signing.

  • Comment number 46.

    Hi Tim,

    I am a dedicated football lover, however could not get much idea of South American football from my place.

    Can you (or anyone here) let me know what is the formation of these inter country (clubs) compitition.

    Like in Europe they have Champions league for top clubs and Euro league for clubs beneath them.

    I would be very happy to get this information


  • Comment number 47.

    Wasn't convinced with Jaguares's performance to be honest, he didnt really make any impression in the first half at all, I forgot he was playing for most of it!
    idol white

  • Comment number 48.

    To take a parallel from tennis, Andy Murray and his family team got fed up of the LTA and got him a place at an academy in Spain, where they are serious about player development and the rest is history in the making (I'll take off "in the making" when he wins a major). His brother, a few years older, had gone through the LTA training system, where they taught him terrible technique that hampered his career, and clearly didn't do too much on the mental side of the game either.

    If only a few more families of young english footballers were willing to take the chance with their kids and get them into the academies of major european clubs (or even just the more familial clubs like Auxerre during the Guy Roux years). They would learn a language, the habit of living abroad in a different culture, different philosophies of football and different ways from the drunken yob culture of english football. Then these players, like Pedroza, would be the kind of rounded, mature-before-their-years players we need to be successful. A generation of Clarence Seedorfs if you like, at ease in any league.

    Rooney was noted as mature when the burst onto the scene, but it was really only physical maturity. The year on year development and effectiveness of Ronaldo and Nani are much better examples of what english players need to show.

  • Comment number 49.

    But we mustn't forget that Pedroza is the son of a mexican father and an english mother. It's entirely natural that they migrated back to Mexico and we can't talk of him as an example of english born player taking on a new challenge abroad.

    But I wish him all the best.

  • Comment number 50.


    A rather one-sided view you have there.

    Ever heard of Kevin Sharp and Jamie Forrester? A lot of noise was made when they went to Auxerre and did the youth system there.
    A career in the lower leagues awaited them both.

    And not all players that go through the continental system become "the kind of rounded, mature-before-their-years players we need to be successful. A generation of Clarence Seedorfs if you like, at ease in any league..."

    Balotelli? Cassano? Totti? and many more....

    And if we want examples from the french league that you mention, I seem to recall a squad of 23 of them last year that hardly brought glory to their academies.

    The truth, like almost always, probably lies somewhere between the two extremes.


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