Cristian Zapata is a Colombian footballer, born on 30th September 1986 in Padilla, Colombia. Zapata is a defender by trade, who mainly plays as a centre-back but has also been used as a right-back. He prefers his right foot while playing and currently plays for Serie A club, AC Milan.
Zapata started playing football for local club Deportivo Cali. He played for the Colombian club at different age levels and finally made his debut for the senior side in 2004.
On 31st August 2005, Zapata made the switch to Serie A club Udinese. He was scouted by Udinese officials during the 2005 South American Youth Championships and the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship.
Zapata made his debut for his national side in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Brazil in 2007. The match ended goalless. He appeared in the next game against Bolivia as well which also finished in a 0-0 draw.
Rise to Glory
Zapata had an impressive start to his career at Udinese. He played in 21 matches during his debut season and helped his side finish 11th in the league. As a result of his impressive performances, he was rewarded with a five-year contract.
He made 36 appearances in the Serie A in the 2006-07 season and became an integral member of his side.
After having suffered a series of injuries, Zapata came back roaring in the 2009-10 season and played in 31 Serie A games. He helped Udinese qualify to the Champions League 3rd round by finishing 4th in the league the next season.
Zapata returned to Italy after spending a year in Spain with Villareal when he signed for AC Milan on loan in 2012. During a Champions League tie against FC Barcelona, he helped Kevin Prince Boateng score the opening goal of the tie under controversial circumstances.
Zapata became an instant fan favourite among the Milan faithfuls with his stellar performance during the Milan derby.
In the summer of 2013, Milan signed him on a permanent basis from Villareal when he penned a three-year deal. He returned the favour by appearing in 20 league games.
Zapata helped Milan to the finals of the Coppa Italia in the 2015-16 season where they lost to Juventus.
Zapata is often criticized for his ability to lose his cool in crunch situations. During a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Argentina, Zapata kicked back Gonzalo Higuain when the latter lost his control and kicked the thigh of the former. Both were shown red cards as both sides went down to 10 men.
Zapata started his professional football career with Deportivo Cali. In 2005, he moved to Italian club Udinese. He stayed at Udinese for six more years before moving to Villareal for £8 million. In 2012, he signed for AC Milan on a loan deal which was made permanent at the start of the next season.