THE COSTA RICAN SHEARER

Australian Four Four Two - - UNKNOWN SUPERSTARS -

Vic­tor Nunez was born in the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic, but his life changed aged nine when his mother mar­ried a Costa Rican. Now the for­ward nick­named ‘El Mambo’ is the lead­ing scorer in the his­tory of Costa Rica’s top flight, net­ting 230 times for eight teams. If Nunez’s trans­fers – par­tic­u­larly be­tween the coun­try’s three big­gest clubs, De­portivo Saprissa, Ala­jue­lense and Here­di­ano – mean that not ev­ery­one in Costa Rica adores him, ev­ery­one knows his name, at least. “At first there was anger, es­pe­cially from Sapris­sis­tas when I left, be­cause I started my ca­reer there,” Nunez tells FFT. “But things are calmer now. Nei­ther they nor the Ala­jue­lense fans are very happy now as I’m play­ing with Here­di­ano, but it’s no prob­lem.” Nunez is idolised by sup­port­ers of his cur­rent club, and Costa Ri­cans took him to their hearts af­ter he de­cided to rep­re­sent the Cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­try at in­ter­na­tional level. “Back home the peo­ple just play base­ball,” Nunez says. “The Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic is fa­mous for its trop­i­cal rhythms, like mambo. Fans here gave me the name ‘El Mambo’ be­cause they weren’t used to see­ing a Do­mini­can player. But I don’t dance much! “I may not be Messi or Ron­aldo, but peo­ple here ap­pre­ci­ate me when they see me on the street. I’m al­ways asked for au­to­graphs and pho­tos – 10 or 15 ev­ery time I go out in pub­lic.” Yet Nunez still re­flects on sev­eral missed op­por­tu­ni­ties to move to Europe. “A few years ago I had a trial in Nor­way, and the coach of Ital­ian side Varese saw me out there,” he says. “He of­fered me a con­tract, but I had to travel im­me­di­ately to Italy. I wanted to go to Costa Rica first to see my son. They didn’t like that, so I missed out on the op­por­tu­nity. Then I had the chance to go and play in Bel­gium, but one of the board mem­bers of the team I was with didn’t tell me about the of­fer, be­cause he wanted me to stay at the club. I wasn’t very happy when I found out.” Europe’s loss was Costa Rica’s gain. Nunez is 35 now but he in­tends to keep adding to his record goal tally for some time yet. “I feel I can keep on play­ing for a cou­ple of years,” he says. “When I stop scor­ing goals, that will be the mo­ment to stop play­ing.”

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