Carlos “El Pibe” (The Kid) Valderrama, the former Colombian national-team captain and three-time World Cup soccer player with the trademark blonde curls, offered young players advice on how to be successful both on and off the field during the fifth annual Verizon Youth Soccer Clinic in Washington, D.C..
“Practice makes perfect,” Valderrama said. “It doesn’t matter what sport you play, it’s about good discipline and good health.”
His advice for young players wanting to reach higher goals consisted of one key phrase: “discipline.” Valderrama reminded young players that work ethic and effort are all the ingredients necessary to be successful.
“A lot of passion, a lot of heart, can carry you to a World Cup,” he said. “Everything is possible with discipline.”
Before retiring in 2004, capping a 22-year career, Valderrama was captain of the Colombian national team in the 1990s. His team qualified for the three World Cups that decade.
Colombia has not qualified for a World Cup since, and Valderrama remains one of the premier players in Colombia’s football history. He represented his country in more than 100 internationals matches, scoring 11 times.
Though his country’s team is out of contention this year, Valderrama’s favorites to win the World Cup in July in South Africa are Brazil and Argentina.
His favorite modern player? Without skipping a beat, he said “Messi.”
Lionel Messi is the young phenom from Argentina who draws comparisons to Diego Armando Maradona, the Argentine star who led his team to a World Cup in 1986.