Exclusive: 10 questions with Peruvian youngster Alonso Pinedo
This week I had the opportunity to interview Alonso Pinedo. He is a 20-year-old Peruvian football player who plays as a midfielder. Pinedo is a native of Callao, the most important port in the country located west of Lima, the capital of Peru. However, he has worked in recent years in teams of high altitude cities such as Espinar (3927 meters above sea level) and Hualgayoc (3502 meters above sea level).
Pinedo talked about his beginnings in football, the reason why he decided to be a professional footballer, his career and his plans for next season. Pinedo has 52 matches as a professional football player and has scored two goals.
Q. What can you tell me about your childhood?
A. I was born in Callao, in the neighborhood of Santa Fe. Since I was little I liked football. I think my first contact with football was at four years old. From that age, I was already kicking pebbles and lemons. Then my mom enrolled me in a football school called Sentimiento Porteño. She always supported me. I went there every day to train. I think that was my first contact with football.
As a child, I remember that every time I went out with my mom and dad, I was very restless and I started kicking bottles or pebbles. I think I had a nice childhood because I enjoyed my time as a child. I used to play with my friends in the neighborhood. When you train a lot you sometimes leave that part aside, but it wasn't my case.
Q. Why did you decide to dedicate professionally to football?
A. It’s because football is my passion. Since I was little I have always seen and played soccer. I grew up and I became more and more involved in football. At the school where I was, I received a scholarship thanks to football. I think football gave me many things. I think that having dedicated to football is the best decision of my life. Few can do it.
I'm grateful to God for giving me this gift to play football. Also, I think football helped my family. I think football also helps a lot in the economic aspect. That's also why I decided to dedicate to this. I want to take my family forward. They are the ones I love the most.
Q. What is the anecdote of your career that you remember the most?
A. I have several but the one I remember the most was one that happened recently playing against Cienciano in Cusco. I am a fan of Alianza Lima and when I was a little boy and went to the stadium I liked how Junior Viza played. The last game we played in Cusco against Cienciano I had a good performance. At the end of the match, I decided to exchange shirts with Viza.
I was thinking that before I saw him on TV many times and now I had played against him on a football field. That motivated me a lot. He agreed to exchange shirts and he encouraged me to keep training hard. This is one of the anecdotes that will always remain in my heart and my mind.
Q. How was your arrival at Alfredo Salinas in 2016?
A. I was at Esther Grande de Bentín. First I went to a test to enter the reserve team of Melgar. There were already several players in my position. The coach Calderón told me no but he also told me to continue following my dream.
Then I returned to Lima and my coach Marco Valencia told me that he had a friend in Alianza Universidad, a team that was in that year in the Second Division. I played a match with them and Alianza Universidad manager, Mifflin Bermúdez, told me that I was going to stay in the team. But the salary was too little to have to live in another city and I returned to Lima.
I spoke with my coach Marco Valencia and he told me that he had talked with José Soto for me to go to Alfredo Salinas. That same year, Paul Cominges took over as manager of Cienciano. I went first to Cusco and met with him. He had been my coach during my last two years at Esther Grande de Bentín. He told me that I was going to have space at Cienciano, but I already had a commitment with Marco Valencia.
I took the first bus to Espinar on a trip that took five hours. Already in Espinar, I met with José Soto. I felt good from the first day. I think my performance was liked by the manager and he gave me the go-ahead. After a week I signed a contract with Alfredo Salinas, a team to which I'm very grateful because it was the first team that allowed me to play professionally.
Q. What is the assessment of your first season in the Second Division in 2016?
A. I think 2016 was a great year. I played most of the games and accumulated many minutes. The matches that I had to play I think I played them in the best way. I had an injury that left me without playing for three weeks, but on balance I think it was a very good season.
Q. In 2017 you left Cusco for Cajamarca. What conclusions did you draw from your time at Hualgayoc that year?
A. It wasn't a very good year for me. We had a good roster and it was very difficult to play in my position, but on the other hand, I tried to take advantage of it. I played several matches in different positions which allowed me to be a polyfunctional player. My natural position is an offensive midfielder, but I was also able to play as a right winger, left winger, right back defender and even as a holding midfielder.
I didn't have many minutes that year, but the most important thing was that I learned to be a polyfunctional player. I was aware that I didn't play much but I kept training hard thinking about next season. The lack of minutes forced me to play in other positions and I think that helped me.
Q. This year you returned to the team with which you debuted professionally. Why did you decide to return to Espinar?
A. Being honest I think that in 2016 I left a good impression on the people of Espinar. For this year I had only two proposals that fell. When I returned from training one day they called me from Alfredo Salinas telling me that they wanted to count on me for this season. We reached an agreement and I decided to return to Espinar.
There was a good group to get important things, but the objectives weren't achieved. The people of Espinar received me very well and I felt their support in all the matches. I knew I could have more minutes of play in Alfredo Salinas.
My goal was to show myself and have as many minutes as possible. I played most of the matches, I gave the best of me in each one and although the season didn't end well, I fulfilled until the end with the team. I knew I could give much more and I knew I would have more opportunities to play in Alfredo Salinas. That's why I decided to return. One way or another I think I achieved it.
Q. The 2018 season of the Second Division has already finished for Alfredo Salinas and the team has descended. What is your assessment of this season?
A. This year I had many more minutes than last year in Hualgayoc. I played the vast majority of matches. I'm very sad because we descended. I think that no player likes to have to descend. I think that many things could have been achieved by taking advantage of the altitude. But the board of directors of Alfredo Salinas didn't support us. I'm happy partly because I consolidated and played almost every game, but I'm also sad because of the descent.
Q. What plans and objectives do you have for 2019?
A. For 2019 my goal is to play in a coastal team. I’ve played the last years in teams of high altitude cities and that has helped me physically. I also have plans to study and it would be much easier to do it in a coastal city. My goal is to play in the First Division and I work to get it. It’s very complicated because in football the issue of agents also influences a lot.
I know I did a good 2018 but the descent doesn't favor me much. There are some teams that were interested in me last year and that are still interested in next season. Now I'm preparing physically and technically for next year. For now, I haven't signed a contract with any team.
I'd like to play in a team in which I feel comfortable to spend a quiet Christmas. Last year I remember that I didn't have it. I worked hard this year to not have to go through the same thing that happened to me last year. Now to wait for the season to end, both First and Second Division, and see what will happen.
Q. To finish I would like to know which players you consider as references.
A. On a local level, I think Paolo Joya. I consider him a reference as a person, as a player, for the quality he has and because he always thinks of the team. On a national level, I think the main reference is Paolo Guerrero. I think he was always a captain. It is evident that he always gives everything for his team.
Finally, internationally I like Cristiano Ronaldo as a leader. He is a reference and all the teams where he is, they're always working hard to be among the best. I think that Messi is better as a player, but as a reference and leader, I prefer Ronaldo.
Huge thanks to Alonso Pinedo for taking the time to talk to me. It was an honor to speak with one of the most promising Peruvian footballers, as well as one of the most outstanding young players in the Second Division of Peru in recent years.