Photo on the pitch inside the stadium (complete with designer wash bag)? Check. Questions taken from local press answered? Check. A pledge to “bring back joy” to the fans? Check.
Ecuadorian Jhon Minda, 22, appeared to be close to becoming an Atletico Morelia player in Mexico’s second-tier Liga de Expansion. The club’s sporting director had even made the claim in local outlet Ecos del Quinceo that “until the contract is signed we can’t say it’s done, [but] the intention is to get him.”
Minda had either gone through his fledgling career without leaving much of a trace, or he wasn’t the player who had previously played at top-flight Monarcas Morelia (which was recently moved to Mazatlan and replaced by the new Atletico club) and had been loaned out to Alebrijes de Oaxaca, as his Instagram and Wikipedia pages indicated.
Morelia journalist Miguel Garcia started digging. It turns out that the Wikipedia page was created on June 29 and that Minda had never been at Morelia.
ESPN Mexico’s Omar Flores got hold of Minda’s number, but the “player” hung up. Mysteriously, his social networks were quickly blocked. Atletico Morelia also denied negotiations.
Stories in the national press in Mexico spread about the “fake” footballer. Minda’s Wikipedia page has since been deleted, but a Google search still shows a result for him edited to say he plays as a “central liar” in “the league of his dreams.”
Minda, to his credit, got in touch with ESPN on Monday to apologise to Morelia fans and clear things up.
It turns out that he’d gone to the stadium to check it out and took a photo, “like any fan.” But media members waiting outside asked him for an interview, apparently assuming he was a player.
In his own words, Minda told ESPN: “I arrived at the stadium and the press was waiting outside, then [someone from newspaper] Sol de Morelia asked me to say ‘hi’ to the fans. I’m a humble person, so I gave the interview and as everyone knows the city of Morelia has been left without a club, so I tell all the Morelia fans that we’ll bring back joy because Morelia deserves it. That’s how the video was filtered.”
Minda added that he had been on trial briefly at Alebrijes de Oaxaca and with Morelia’s under-20s team, but had never been registered to play. He’d advanced through the youth system at Nacional, the same club future Manchester United star Antonio Valencia came out of, but an elbow injury had curtailed his career before he took a chance and moved to Mexico.
Fame-hungry chancer or victim of circumstance? Whichever way you look at it, Minda has certainly made a name for himself. And he is certainly not the first ‘fake footballer’ to leave a real club looking foolish.
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Edited by Tiyani wa ka Mabasa