Before setting off for Peru, Carlos Vela made three wishes: to have a great tournament, to become world champion and to cap his Peruvian adventure by topping the goal-scoring charts. It has been a case of so far so good for Vela. In his country's opening game the young Chivas de Guadalajara striker played a key role in his side's victory and also notched the first goal of the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005.
"It's fantastic to start a World Championship so well, but the most important thing is that the team won," the 16-year-old tells FIFA.com after completing a training session at the National Stadium in Lima, the scene of his virtuoso performance last Friday. "I had the ball and decided to nip between the two defenders, and luckily I got past them. But when the keeper came out I thought, 'I'm going to take it round him, no one's going to get this off me.' I hit it with my wrong foot but it still went in," he recalls with a glint in his eye.
Koala, as he is now known to his team-mates, rang home after Mexico's dream debut. "My family were really excited, and everyone in Cancun had been watching the game. I just hope I can carry on scoring because everything I do is for them," he adds with pride. The young forward from Chivas is in his first season with the national side: "I hope I can make it all the way to the full team," he says.
A footballing dynasty
Like most of his compatriots, as a young boy Vela used to dream of pulling on the Tricolor, running out in front of a packed stadium and playing in a world championship. Little wonder, really, when you consider that his three brothers are all closely connected to the world of football, including Alejandro, who is currently banging in the goals for Chivas. "I used to kick my toys when I was a little boy. Football is a passion in my family and it was my destiny really," says Vela, who now stands on the verge of realising one of his major objectives. "We came here to become world champions and we're confident we can do it. The game against Uruguay was tough, but we managed to shake off our markers and put some good moves together. That's our strong point and it worked for us," he explains.
Mexico will book a place in the quarter-finals on Monday if they can overcome an Australian side that gave Turkey a stern test in their opening game. "They're a direct side. They defend deep and try and hit you on the break. We should have a good chance if we can move the ball around," says Vela with all the assurance of a pundit. A self-confessed video games addict, the youngster reveals his secret to staying relaxed: "I never travel without my games console and we play a few games of football to switch off a little. I'm always Real Madrid and I made up a player with my name so I can do one-twos with Ronaldo and the rest." Some kind of premonition, perhaps? "Who knows? Maybe some day I'll get the chance to play with them for real. That's what I'm working towards."