Ball Expert Pibe Valderrama on Being Colombia’s Captain and Having Pelotas

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Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama, the former Colombian soccer star who showed the world how much more important it was to be in the right place than to run like crazy, is on the offensive. He took aim at Freddy Guarín, captain of the current national team, for its most recent qualifying match – an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at the hands of Uruguay.

“When you are wearing the captain’s armband, you have to show character. He doesn’t have balls,” said El Pibe to a prominent radio station in Colombia.

He was answering comments by Guarín, who said to Italian newspapers that no one in Colombia says anything when they win but everyone has a finger ready to point when things go south. That’s when El Pibe fired off, saying that you can win or lose, but what you sure can’t have is lack of character. Poor Guarín. He was captain only after Falcao and James were not, for quite different reasons, in the starting lineup.

Let’s just say Valderrama is an expert on balls. When he played for Spanish team Valladolid, he had his balls massaged by Michel Gonzalez waiting for a corner kick.

Michel Gonzalez had to endure bullying for years. He has even written magazine articles trying to explain his awkward behavior. He learned to make fun of himself; when he was introduced as Getafe’s new coach, he said something along the lines of “I am not here to touch anyone’s balls.” He hasn’t done badly; after many first-line teams, he’s coaching Olympique de Marseille after the sudden departure of Marcelo Bielsa. A helping hand can go a long way.