Ecuador national football team captain Enner Valencia has been a driving force behind the national team’s success in recent years, and the veteran striker recently made history by scoring his first goal in 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Enner Valencia’s opening goal against hosts Qatar helped his side win 2-0. After VAR disallowed his early header for offside in pre-season, the 33-year-old forward converted a self-winning penalty in the 16th minute to score the opening goal of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He doubled his tally 15 minutes later.
With these two goals, Enner Valencia Ecuador also became the top scorer of the FIFA World Cup with five goals in just four matches. Incidentally, he scored all three of Ecuador’s goals at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, their last appearance in football’s biggest event.
Enner Valencia also scored four goals in Ecuador’s 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and helped them to their fourth and final direct World Cup berth behind Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay of South America.
The striker is already Ecuador’s all-time top scorer with 37 goals and has been a talisman of the Ecuador national team since former Manchester United star Antonio Valencia retired from the national team.
Where is Enner Valencia from?
Enner Valencia was born on November 4, 1989 in the coastal town of San Lorenzo, Ecuador. He came from a farming community and sold farm milk on the streets to support his family’s finances.
Poverty and the hardships that come with it, however, never deterred Enner Valencia from his dream of becoming a footballer, like so many South American football stars.
“It was my love of football that kept me alive,” Enner Valencia once said Daily mail website. “I was always with the ball or the bottle or whatever we encountered, always trying to get the game started.”
Despite the odds, Enner Valencia continued to develop his skills by gaining extra yards on the pitch.
“Many times I went to bed outside of school to play. I told my parents I was going to school, but I never got there. I went to play soccer. I have always been passionate about this game – admitted Enner Valencia.
Enner Valencia’s breakthrough
Enner Valencia finally made his breakthrough at the age of 15 when he was spotted by the Caribe Junior football club in Lago Agrio.
“I’ve always just liked to play. One day, the director of a club from the eastern part of the country came to my city and saw me play – said Enner Valencia. Independent in the interview.
“He said he wanted to sign me with Caribe Junior in Lago Agrio – the hometown of Manchester United star Antonio Valencia – and I spoke to my parents and decided yes I would go,” revealed Enner Valencia.
Enner Valencia was part of the Caribe Junior youth system until 2008 and then moved to Oriente before settling for Emilec football club at the age of 20.
Enner Valencia’s international debut
Enner Valencia played for Ecuador’s under-22 team at the 2011 Pan American Games and made his senior debut in 2012 against Honduras in an international friendly.
Although he was unable to get on the scoresheet in 2012, his first senior goal came against the same team during the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign in 2013. His purple patch continued during Ecuador’s pre-World Cup friendlies and eventually earned him a spot. in Ecuador’s squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
On his World Cup debut in Brazil, Enner Valencia gave Ecuador the lead against Switzerland with a first-half header, but second-half goals from the European team condemned Ecuador to a 2-1 defeat.
Valencia led Ecuador’s struggle in the second group match against Honduras, scoring two goals and leading them to a famous victory. However, after a goalless draw against the European heavyweights, France saw them exit the group stage in a heartbreak.
Although Enner Valencia failed to lead the Ecuadorian side to the knockout stages, his brilliant performances at the 2014 FIFA World Cup caught the eye of English Premier League club West Ham United.
In October 2021, Valencia scored his 32nd international goal against Bolivia in a FIFA World Cup qualifier, overtaking Agustín Delgado as Ecuador’s all-time top scorer.
Enner Valencia spent three years in the English Premier League between 2014 and 2017. He then moved to Mexico’s Tigres UANL and currently plays for Turkish Super League club Fenerbahce.
Records and achievements of Enner Valencia
Ecuador’s all-time top goalscorer with 37 goals for the national team
Ecuador’s top goalscorer at the FIFA World Cup with five goals (as of 20 November 2022)
He scored the opening goal of the 2022 FIFA World Cup against hosts Qatar in the opening match.