In recent years, the surname Bazalar has carried a lot of weight in Peruvian footballing circles, and the trend looks set to continue for some time yet. Currently starring for Peru at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007 is 17-year-old Carlos Bazalar, who is fast forging a reputation on the world stage.
The player charged with reading the Peru squad's message of
hope to the people back home, still reeling from the effects of a
devastating earthquake, Bazalar subsequently caught the eye with
his high-octane performances and two vital goals that helped drive
Jotitas into the Round of 16.
It would be no exaggeration to say that young Carlos has enjoyed a magnificent tournament thus far, as he explains to FIFA.com. "To be honest, everything is going well. But what matters is that the team are winning, we are achieving historic feats, which had never been done before. That, along with my two goals, has been a huge thrill."
Focused on the job in hand and full of confidence, the all-action midfielder knows that the toughest challenges are still to come - starting with Tajikistan. "They're quick and they put you under pressure in your own half, it's going to be very difficult. We weren't expecting to face them, but we have to take this match very seriously indeed if we want to keep winning."
The son of Juan Carlos Bazalar, one of the biggest names in Peruvian football, the youngster has quite an act to follow. Bazalar senior won the 2003 Copa Sudamericana with Cuzco outfit Cienciano, as well as the 2004 Recopa Sudamericana, contested by the winners of the previous year's Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana. Still going strong at 39, the veteran midfield man captained Peru at the Copa America Venezuela 2007.
"He's still the best," says Carlos of his father. "I know that you don't often see fathers and sons playing professionally at the same time, but that's how it is in our case. Actually, we could even end up playing for the same team at the end of the year, if Alianza (Lima) were to loan me out to Cienciano..."
However, the gifted youngster is looking even further ahead, and
harbours a burning ambition to make the move to European shores:
"In fact, my dream, my goal and my greatest desire is to play
in Europe. Over in Lima there have been rumours in the papers that
I'm on the verge of leaving, but the World Cup comes first and
then we'll see."
And where would the dynamic No.8 wish to ply his trade? "To start with I'd like to play in France or England, which are two big, competitive leagues. But my dream would be to play in Spain, the best league in the world. I watch a lot of Real Madrid games, because Fernando Gago is my favourite player."
For one so young, Bazalar turns out to have a keen eye for the intricacies of the beautiful game. "He's a very intelligent player, capable of working effectively in very tight situations," is his expert analysis of former Boca Juniors' star Gago. "I think I've picked up a few of his traits in recent years, though I don't think I'll go as far as he has, because he's a superb player. Even so, it's my aim to follow a similar path to his."
Despite his best
efforts, Carlos has yet to have the good fortune to watch his hero
play first-hand. "No, I've never been able to go. I put my
name down for every ticket draw, I sent off about 1,000 prize-draw
coupons but my name wasn't picked," says the Alianza Lima
starlet. "Let's hope that in the future I can go and see
him in the Bernabeu when I'm playing in Europe too!"
First up, however, is the small matter of the Round of 16 at Korea 2007. Clearly confident in his team's bid for success, a mission that has the whole of Peru eagerly awaiting news of every match, Bazalar signs off in emphatic fashion: "We're good enough to win this last-sixteen game and compete at the quarter-final stage. And if all goes well, we're ready to play in a semi-final and what comes after it."