As curious as it sounds, one of Paraguay’s key players will take the field in South Africa without ever having played in top flight football in his own country.
Enrique Vera - known as 'Rambert' owing to his striking resemblance to former Argentina international striker Sebastian Rambert - began his professional career at the age of 20 with second division outfit Resistencia, moving in 2003 to Sportivo Iteno, in the same league.
His hard-running style caught the eye of top clubs, but not in his homeland. Instead, in 2004, the midfielder made the switch to Aucas, in Ecuador. Vera found a home away from home there, and went on to carve a successful career for himself with three teams, Universidad Catolica Quito, Olmedo Riobamba and LDU Quito, as well as a brief stay in Mexico in 2008/09, with America.
Vera was one of the mainstays of LDU’s Copa Libertadores-winning squad in 2008, and played his part in helping the Ecuadorians to bring home the Copa Sudamericana and the Recopa Sudamericana in 2009. Such was his impact that LDU were very quick to welcome him back to their ranks after a tricky spell in Mexico, and the tough-tackling midfielder remains a key member of their squad.
He won his first international cap in 2007, not long after securing his first league championship medal in Ecuador. Vera gives coach Gerardo Martino flexibility in the Albirroja midfield, either in front of the back four, or as an orthodox additional central midfielder. Such versatility brought Vera to the fore in the FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, in which he started 12 of Paraguay’s matches.