Sometimes, fate smiles on footballers at crucial moments in their careers. Julio Gomez, winner of the adidas Golden Ball award, the trophy accorded to the best performer at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011, has had an early taste of that phenomenon. As he clutched his prize in a Mexico dressing room that positively vibrated with songs and shouts of joy, it seems likely he will enjoy many such experiences in the future.
In just three days, Mexico midfielder Gomez has gone from scoring an astounding winning goal against Germany in the semi-final of the tournament to receiving a standing ovation from almost 100,000 fans at the Estadio Azteca during the final versus Uruguay.
Sandwiched in between those two incidents, even his President got in on the act by citing him as an example for fellow Mexicans to look up to. With all this going on, the player in question was polite enough to take some time out from his team’s raucous title celebrations to share his thoughts with FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: Julio Gomez, how do you feel after winning the competition?
I’m full of emotion, because you always dream about being part of a team that becomes world champions, so to have actually done it is just unbelievable. It’s something that we really wanted to accomplish ever since we started preparing for this tournament, and today we can say loud and clear that we achieved our objective and created a bit of history.
Would it be fair to say that the semi-final against Germany has changed your life? As if that weren’t enough, the entire Azteca Stadium chanted your name today.
It’s hard to take it all in! So many people shouting out my name – that’s something I’ll never forget. The same goes for seeing supporters with bandages wrapped around their heads like I had in the Germany game. I could never have imagined having that kind of effect on the fans. And when they were calling for me to be sent on as a sub, it almost made me feel a bit embarrassed.
Why did you not start the match?
I didn’t start because I didn’t feel 100 per cent, but I was desperate to get on. Fortunately, in the end I got the chance to play for a bit, and there were no problems.
Aside from the actual result, did the game turn out as you had expected?
It developed more or less how we had imagined. The Uruguayans were tough opponents who fought for every ball right up to the final whistle, and that makes us appreciate this title even more.
What does winning the award for best player in the tournament mean to you?
It’s the product of a lot of hard work, but it’s actually a reflection of the team’s achievements. Without the support of my team-mates, I would never have managed such a thing.
Do you already know where you are going to display your adidas Golden Ball award?
Well, tonight I’m going to sleep next to it! [Laughs loudly] Then I’ll try to find a place in my room that allows me to see it as soon as I get out of bed in the morning, to remind myself that I was voted the best player at the U-17 World Cup, and that we were world champions.
How do you envision your career developing from here?
I’ve got to take things slowly, step by step. Of course I’d love to establish myself at Pachuca, my club, and become a first-team regular, but we’ll just have to see how things go. I’m in no hurry; right now all I want to do is celebrate with the rest of the squad.
What do you think will go through your mind when you get around to watching the video of the final?
That I was there, that I played and won a world title for my country.