Not even a lockdown prevented Santiago from fulfilling his dream of signing for a Spanish team.
Santiago Hoyos had been in Marcet for just over a year when the Spanish authorities decreed the mandatory lockdown after the Covid-19 outbreak. The suspension of official competitions did not discourage the young Colombian striker, who decided to stay in Barcelona and continue with his training program despite the limitations imposed by the authorities. At 18, Santiago was at a fundamental stage in his sports career and he knew that football had to continue to be his priority, even though he could no longer train as before.
Time proved him right. The striker from Medellin stayed in Barcelona respecting all the recommendations of the health authorities, but without being distracted for a moment from his main objective. “In the residence we did sit-ups, push-ups, planks …”, remembers Santiago. “For a footballer it is essential to dedicate time to physical activity. My goal was to stay in shape and be ready for when I was needed.”
That moment came pretty soon. So much effort paid off a few months later, at the end of the summer, when Extremadura knocked on his door. “The news came from Carlos Rivero, technical director of the Marcet Professional Program. He called me into his office and we had a very serious meeting, although I could not contain my smile from ear to ear. I had butterflies in my stomach, I wanted to jump … Then I called my family and it was very emotional. The feeling was incredible, a very beautiful moment. ”
“That step in my sports career has been a giant step. It is the greatest reward I have had. Not only because I had been working for many years to be able to sign for a professional club in Spain. Also because I will have the opportunity to face the best teams from the Madrid region, like Real or Atlético. I will be able to show my talent and put myself on the map. ”
“When I signed for Extremadura I had butterflies in my stomach… I wanted to jump!”
Santiago -who came to Barcelona from the ABC Academy in Medellin- worked hard to change his way of playing. “I realized that in Spain the pace of the game is much higher. At the beginning it took me a lot to adapt. In Colombia I was more used to a physical game. Here I learned how to pass the ball properly, to distribute it more quickly, to pay attention to free spaces… I improved my my decision-making in the field “.
The Colombian forward had arrived at Marcet in the middle of the 2018-19 season. The first big match he had to face was against Zaragoza. “You learn a lot from those games, because you understand that you still need to improve to reach the top level, that you still have to work more. Playing against great teams is the best experience, because it pushes you to keep improving, it gives you that inner fire to go ahead. When we won those matches, it was like a prize for us. When we had a bad result, it was an incentive to work more.”
After Zaragoza came clashes against Valencia, Athletic Bilbao and Sporting de Gijón, among others. Santiago treasured those experiences, since he finally fulfilled his dream of signing for a Spanish team. “I am very grateful and very proud to have been part of Marcet. It was a process that helped me grow as a footballer and as a person. I left the Academy with the aim of being the best player in the Division de Honor and then reaching the first team of the Extremadura“.