Picture the scene. Costa Rica's Group A clash with Korea
Republic goes into the final minute. The hosts press hard as the
Ticos battle to hang onto a 1-0 lead that will take them
through to the next round. Just as the Central Americans look as if
they are about to buckle, Jessy Peralta finds himself on the ball
in his own half and launches a lightning solo break. After
sprinting towards the Korean goal he coolly strokes the ball home,
to the jubilation of a nation.
In doing so, the Tricolor left-back, who hails from a small village in the north of Costa Rica, showed millions of children around the globe that you do not have to come from the big city to be a winner.
And when asked about his unlikely route to the national team, Jessy's voice starts to crack with emotion. "I come from a tiny village, and it was very difficult for anyone from the national set-up to ever see me in action. Fortunately, some of the coaches back home had faith in me and took me to a trial. Thanks to God I was selected and have managed to stay in the team."
Even though he is now on the other side of the world, the No 11 has not forgotten his roots. "My home village is called Oriente, in Santa Cruz de Guanacaste," he says. "It's a very small, humble place, and it's very dear to my heart. Everything I'm doing here is dedicated to the people back home. There aren't many of us who live there, and I'd like to say a big hello to all of them because I know they're following me closely."
A shared dream
The national trial took Jessy to the bright lights of San Jose, where he met up with players from markedly different backgrounds. Any worries he might have had about getting on with his new colleagues were quickly dissipated, however. "They took to me straightaway and they never looked down on me because of where I'm from. They've always treated me really well."
Warm welcomes aside, the then midfielder has had to work extremely hard to get to where he is now. After failing to gain a first-team place in the qualifying phase, all the indications were he would be on the sidelines again in Korea. Nevertheless, his seamless adaptation to the left-back slot opened the doors to a berth in the starting line-up, an opportunity Jessy has seized with both hands.
Little wonder then that he celebrated his points-sealing strike against the Koreans in ecstatic style. "To score in a World Cup finals is an amazing feeling," he enthuses. "It was incredible. I couldn't believe it and I thank God for giving me the chance. The fact we won made it even better."
Now with Costa Rican big guns Deportivo Saprissa, Jessy is dreaming of yet more glory, setting his sights on the last 16 and beyond. "Of course I'd love to make it to the Final and play Brazil there," he declares. "That would be my dream match, as long as we won!" As far as the kid from Oriente is concerned, this is one fairy tale that is obviously set to run and run.