Exceptionally gifted, an elusive dribbler and able to beat his man on either side, Jefferson Montero is one of the biggest names in the Ecuadorian game. Ally those qualities with his speed on the ball and finishing ability, and the 24-year-old is most definitely a forward to be feared.

The Babahoyo-born attacker has already racked up plenty of miles on his club career trail, starting out at Emelec and then going out on loan to Independiente del Valle – who at the time played in Ecuador’s second tier. A subsequent spell at Mexico’s Dorados followed before returning to Independiente, whereupon he was snapped up by Spanish side Villarreal, for whom he started out in their B team to help the adaptation process.

Montero’s impressive displays saw him brought into the first-team squad at El Submarino Amarillo, though it was not long before he was sent out on loan to first Levante and then Real Betis. Eventually he found himself back in Mexico with Monarcas, where he has grown into an automatic starter and key performer. At national-team level, he was among the main men as La Tri won gold at the 2007 Pan-American Games, scoring in the final win over Jamaica. Montero also shone at the U-20 Sudamericano in 2009, cementing his reputation among his country’s biggest rising stars.

The fleet-footed forward made his senior international debut in 2007, appearing in seven 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers and finding the net once. And it was during the Brazil 2014 qualifying phase that he definitively cemented his place as a fixture for coach Reinaldo Rueda, Jeff playing 13 times and grabbed three goals – including the winner against Uruguay in Quito which clinched qualification for Ecuador.