HAND OF GOD

Mina promised his mum he’d build her a house and put food on ta­ble af­ter im­pov­er­ished up­bring­ing

Sunday Mirror - - FOWLER ROBBIE - By Si­MON MULLOCK

IT’S the prom­ise that Yerry Mina made to his mother when he was a 14-year- old that drives Ever­ton’s £ 27.5mil­lion Colom­bian de­fender.

“I have an at­ti­tude that comes from when I was very young and my fam­ily was strug­gling badly,” said the man who is sure to be­come known as the Pre­mier League’s smil­ing as­sas­sin.

“We were liv­ing in a rented prop­erty. One room for four of us – mum, dad, me and my brother – and we were hav­ing it very hard.

“My dad was try­ing to find work. He would go out on to the streets to look for jobs.

“I re­mem­ber my mother cry­ing. I said to her, ‘Lis­ten, mum, I am go­ing to build a house for you one day. I am also go­ing to make sure that you will be fed from the hand of God’.

“I just wanted her to know that, in the fu­ture, it would be bet­ter, that she would have a good home and eat fine food.

“And, from that day, wher­ever I travel to play foot­ball, be­fore I go out on to the field, I say, ‘ Right, I am go­ing on to the field to win my mum’s din­ner’.

“That is where my strength comes from, from the child­hood I had in a tough place.”

Mina was al­ready a promis­ing cen­tre-back, play­ing for the lo­cal team in his home­town of Guach­ene, hop­ing to fol­low in the foot­steps of his fa­ther Jose Euilse, and un­cle Jair, who both earned money as goal­keep­ers play­ing in the lower leagues.

He helped his fam­ily make ends meet by earn­ing £1.50 a day, work­ing as a de­liv­ery boy on the mar­ket stall run by his grand­mother.

He re­called: “I would get 6,000 pe­sos ev­ery day. I would give 4,000 pe­sos to my mum for food, I would give 1,000 pe­sos to my brother so he could buy a toy or some­thing and I would keep 1,000 pe­sos for my­self to buy some wa­ter to drink af­ter train­ing.

“I was al­ways the first to get to train­ing and the last to leave. I was the one who wanted the team to progress all the time.

“The coaches would ask why I did not want to be with the other kids, why I wanted to be with adults.

“But even then I wanted to play real foot­ball. Not with mates my age.

“The only thing I fo­cused on was foot­ball. I had to be a pro. I had to make it. For my mum. She is called Mar­i­anela.”

Mina was 18 when a move to De­portivo Pasto ma­te­ri­alised – but he cou ld only aff o rd ac­com­mo­da­tion that was a 40-minute drive from the train­ing ground, so he used to sneak on to the backs of lor­ries to get there.

His progress con­tin­ued a few months later with a switch to top-flight In­de­pen­di­ente Santa Fe be­fore Brazil­ian gi­ants Palmeiras recog­nised his tal­ent in 2013.

Last Jan­uary, Mina was plunged into the multi-mil­lion­aire world of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez when Barcelona paid £ 11mil­lion and handed him a con­tract that in­cluded a £90mil­lion re­lease clause.

It didn’t work out for the 24-yearold at the Nou Camp – he made just a hand­ful of ap­pear­ances for the Cata­lan gi­ants – but he was a main­stay of the Colom­bia team that qual­i­fied for last sum­mer’s World Cup. Three goals in Rus­sia – in­clud­ing a tow­er­ing last-minute headed equaliser against Eng­land in the last 16 – il­lus­trated Mina’s ef­fec­tive­ness in both boxes and prompted Ever­ton to meet Barcelona’s ask­ing price, de­spite a knee in­jury from which he has only just re­cov­ered, to take his place in Marco Silva’s side.

Mina was all smiles as he spoke about the in­cred­i­ble jour­ney that has brought him to Mersey­side.

“I smile be­cause I am happy,” he in­sisted. “I don’t think any­thing I have spo­ken about here is real suf­fer­ing.

“It does not com­pare to some of the things that my dad or some of my rel­a­tives have gone through, or what most of the peo­ple in my home­town go through ev­ery day.

“When I cross the white line, though, it is like putting on a mask.

“I have no friends on the pitch. If I was play­ing against my dad, I would have to dish it out to him as well. I am sorry, but I

would!”

The last ques­tion was whether Mina had got to build the house he promised his mother.

“Oh yes,” he replied be­fore he broke into an­other beam­ing smile.

TOWER OF POWER: Mina’s header against Eng­land inthe World Cup

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