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