- Fernando Beltran is one of Mexico's top prospects
- His whole family moved to Guadalajara to aid his footballing dream
- Beltran wants a medal at the Tokyo Olympics
Like a plane cleared for take-off on the runway, it seemed like nothing could slow the upward trajectory of Fernando Beltran. Still only 22, he had already established himself in the Guadalajara midfield, where his vision and technical skills looked capable of propelling him to his next major objective: the Men's Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has put that goal and his burgeoning career on hold. And, not for the first time, Beltran has had to draw on the reserves of resilience that life’s harsh lessons have instilled in him.
"No-one expected something like this," he told FIFA.com. "In truth, it saddened me a great deal as we were set to play the [Concacaf] Olympic Qualifying Tournament and I was in the squad.
"Furthermore, Chivas were showing a lot of faith in me. It's been very complicated, but I'm looking forward to getting back out there as soon as possible."
Fortunately for the player they call ‘El Nene’, difficult challenges are nothing new. His first big one came at the age of 14, when Chivas first showed an interest in him.
"I made a decision very quickly because I was so glad that Guadalajara had approached me," Beltran said. "At the time it was pure happiness and excitement, as I hadn’t fully realised that I wouldn’t see my family very often when I moved to a new city. But once I was living there at the club’s academy, not seeing my family was hard – extremely hard."
When he thought he could bear it no longer and would have to return to Mexico City, his family refused to let him give up on a dream he had been nurturing since a very young age and packed their bags to join him in Guadalajara.
He said: "My mother took a job here with a cleaning company, mopping floors, wiping down computers. She came first and was then followed by my brother, who's a chef. For my father, it was harder to relocate because of his work, but in the end, even he moved. And now we’re all starting to enjoy this wonderful city more. Arriving home and seeing them is a great joy."
Fernando Beltran, in brief
- Place & date of birth: 8 May 1998, in Mexico City, Mexico
- Height: 1.70m
- Position: Midfielder
- Senior team debut: July 2017
- Footballing philosophy: Compete fiercely and don’t surrender possession
- Key skills: Vision and passing accuracy
- Idols: Xavi and Iniesta, for their mastery on the ball, their creativity, and ability to shape their bodies to fit each play
- Influences at Chivas: Carlos Salcido, because he taught me how to read the game more quickly, to be more mature on the pitch and to enjoy games
Life today for Beltran and his family is very positive, with more than one member of the household fulfilling their dreams. Now that the player is firmly established with Chivas, it is his turn to provide crucial support to his family, specifically his mother, who had always dreamed of having a food business.
"My mom cooks really well and always wanted to run a food business – that was her dream," he said. "So not long ago we made it happen and now she’s fulfilling her goal too."
One of the side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that Beltran has had plenty of time to enjoy being around his loved ones.
"I’m focusing on being closer to my family – seeing how they’re getting on day to day, helping out with what’s needed at home, improving things for my mother's business," he said. "I’ve really enjoyed it because they supported me after the lockdown when I couldn’t do what I wanted, which is to play football.
"They reassured me that everything would come back soon and to be ready. Life is different when you’re not dedicated to football – it's more complicated – and for that I must be grateful."
Beltran’s Olympic dream also remains intact, with his intention of going to Tokyo as strong as ever.
"It's very important to me," he said. "It's a big stepping-stone towards earning a place in the senior team and also for my aspirations to play in Europe. A good performance really puts you in the shop window, even more so if we can bring home a medal."