It has not taken long for Wilson Palacios to develop from an exciting young prospect to one of the standard bearers of a Honduras team hoping for big things at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. The 26-year-old midfielder is in the form of his life, as he has been proving week in week out with Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League and with Los Catrachos.
Hailing from a prolific footballing family, Palacios is just one of four brothers who all make their living from the game. Indeed, another of the quartet, Johnny, has also been included in the Honduran squad for South Africa. All four siblings played together at Olimpia, where Wilson stood out from an early age due to his qualities as a committed and tactically disciplined midfielder. That drive and determination quickly won him hero status with the Merengue faithful and led to him being fast-tracked into the national set-up.
Palacios also shone in the Honduran league for his creative skills and it was not long before a host of European sides began to express an interest in him. The first to come knocking on the door were Serbian big guns Crvena Zvezda, followed by Ligue 1 outfit Monaco and English powers Arsenal.
Although a move failed to materialise to any of those esteemed clubs, Gunners coach Arsene Wenger was sufficiently impressed to recommend the Honduran to his friend Steve Bruce, then in charge at Birmingham City. Signing a six-month contract at St Andrews, Palacios failed to impress on a regular basis but did turn in a sparkling performance against Manchester United, which was all the evidence Bruce needed to take the Honduran with him when he landed the Wigan job.
The move north proved the making of Palacios. Switching to a purely defensive midfield role, he became an essential cog in the Latics side and soon gained recognition as one of the leading exponents of the holding role in the English top flight. It came as little surprise then when Spurs splashed out £12m on the player, making him the most expensive Central American footballer of all time.
Maintaining his high standards in north London, Palacios did not take long to gain the full confidence of Spurs coach Harry Redknapp and win over the White Hart Lane fans. What made his adaptation to English football all the more remarkable was that it came at a time when he had to overcome the death of one of his brothers, the victim of a kidnapping back home.
Palacios also showed great strength of character in his inspirational displays for Honduras throughout the qualifying campaign for South Africa 2010. His leadership, physical strength and tireless ball-winning were crucial factors as Honduras secured a place in the finals for only the second time in their history, and will be crucial once more when La Bicolor take on the world’s best this summer.