‘The tougher the rivals, the more you learn’


Santiago Hoyos shows his appreciation for Spain’s combinational approach to football and his latest opportunities to face great teams.

Santiago discovered a completely different type of football in Barcelona, an approach to the sport he was anything but familiar to. He was aware that the “Spanish way” means quick passing and one-touch plays over head-on offensives, but he had no idea actually how different an approach it was. “Here the players never seem to stress when they have the ball. They’re patient, it’s a smart kind of football.”

The Medellin-born striker first arrived at the Marcet High-Performance Academy looking to improve just that: “In my country, they’d pass me a ball and I was on my own, either to pass it on forward or to hold on to the ball until I was fouled. Here, you’re given the ball, and you’ve got three teammates coming to help you.”

“Individualism is fine, because it’s an unbalancing tool, but you also have to play for your teammates”

That team-focused mentality, that cooperation between teammates, is what surprised the Colombian athlete the most. “For me, the most important thing for a player is to make oneself readily available to the team. Individualism is fine, because it’s an unbalancing tool, but you also have to play for your teammates.”

Santiago Hoyos cabecea un balón durante el partido contra el Real Zaragoza.
Santiago Hoyos nods the ball between two Zaragoza’s players.

What Santiago can’t get his head around are those players who just don’t make the effort, who don’t commit themselves 100% to the game. “In Colombia, I got used to fighting for possession, to being brave, and I do not want to lose that.”

Santiago’s match against Zaragoza shows this. The video above gives an account of how the Colombian striker fights for each ball as if it were his last. The rival team demanded it be that way. “It was a very difficult game, playing against a team that’s first in its category and has over 90 goals under its belt, so far this season is no easy task… but it’s always good to have challenging rivals because they’re the ones that lower your ego, that force you to learn.”



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