Soccer fans from all over the world were looking towards Brazil this year, where the 2014 FIFA World Cup was taking place. Nearly 3 million tickets had been sold and after 16 years, Colombia was back in the game proving to be a true contender this year. Although the Colombian team was without one of it’s best players this year (Falcao) the team was still strong. Radamel Falcao Garcia ("El Tigre") unfortunately injured his knee back in January and was not playing in the World Cup this year. However, another outstanding player of the Colombian team is the center forward, Jackson Martinez.
Jackson Martinez is not only a star in Portugal, where he plays for FC Porto, but also an inspiration to his hometown of Chocó, Colombia, located in the west of Colombia, bordering the Pacific Ocean. Jackson Martinez was born in Quibdó, the capital of the province of Chocó. Unlike many of his other teammates in the Colombian national team, Martinez did not grow up playing soccer on well manicured fields, instead he played on the the streets. Few people from these poor regions make the leap into the professional area of soccer or even into the Colombian national team. There is a lack of good infrastructure, of football fields, lack of equipment and of qualified instructors in the area. The few football schools in Quibdó share a strong need for growth.
Before becoming a famous soccer player, Martinez went to Medellin for training. The tall and thin Jackson was just 10 years old when he went to a football school there. His shoes were scuffed, his sports trousers much too large, but his talent was already extraordinary. Martinez played youth soccer for “Independiente Medellin,” one of the two major clubs in the city. He then went to Mexico to play for the “Jaguares” before he was sold in 2012 to the FC Porto in Portugal. There, as a center forward, Jackson scored 20 goals last season. He also joined the Colombian National team in 2009 and between this period he went to coach children back home in Quibdó.
Jackson Martinez owes his name to the famous Michael Jackson because of his father’s admiration for the King of Pop. Throughout his professional soccer career, Jackson Martinez has not forgotten where he came from. In 2012, he established a foundation named "Sports Foundation Jackson Martinez". This Foundation supports promising young soccer players in his native Colombia Chocó, so that the kids will also have the chance to make it into the big soccer leagues. Jackson’s market value today is around 30 million euros. Make sure to keep an eye on Martinez in this year’s World Cup.