Perello's refereeing roots, goalkeeping future

Hailing from a family where his father, a brother and a sister are all referees, it would be easy to assume that Michael Perello would follow in the family trade. Yet he decided differently and opted to try his luck as a footballer instead.

“Being a referee is a family tradition for us,” the 17-year-old told, chuckling, ahead of Honduras’ opening game at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015. “But it didn’t come into the equation for me. Even if it doesn’t work out for me playing football, I wouldn’t want to become a referee. But they still support me wholeheartedly.”

Family support His words were in no way meant to be derogatory; indeed, the young goalkeeper has nothing but respect for match officials: “I think being a goalkeeper and being a referee are equally difficult. Every mistake or wrong decision can turn the game on its head. If you’re a striker you can shoot wide ten times but if you put the ball in the net then everything else is forgotten. That’s why I think it’s harder to be a referee than an outfield player.”

Naturally Perello, who is a fan of German FIFA World Cup™ winner Manuel Neuer and Honduras No1 Noel Valladares, started following his father to football matches at an early age and picked up a great deal about the game. He understands how referees feel and the pressures they face, and therefore knows how to conduct himself on the pitch. Furthermore, it strengthened his grasp on the rules.

Yet on Sunday the only thing the Perello family will be focused on is their youngest member. Regardless of whether he plays or starts on the bench against Ecuador at the Estadio Fiscal in Talca, his father, four brothers and two sisters will be watching at home on television and cheering him on. Honduras coach Jose Valladares will only announce who will play between the posts shortly before kick-off in the changing room.

Promise kept Sadly, Perello’s mother will not be with the rest of his family in Honduras as she passed away two years ago. The subject is still a difficult one for the youngster and he pauses for a moment to collect himself when asks him about it in the team hotel in Chile. Perello promised his mother he would be at a World Cup one day – and he has already been true to his word.

He wore a t-shirt with a photo of her printed on it during the qualifying campaign in order to keep her close to him. “Obviously I can’t tell whether or not she’s happy with my performances but I’m sure she’s looking down on me and supporting me,” he said, before explaining why it would be a special occasion if he were to take to the pitch: “I’ve been preparing for this for years and will be ready.”

If he is selected to play, Perello will continue his custom of looking skywards shortly before kick-off and asking his mother for help to avoid conceding. It would not only be an emotional moment for him, but for his entire family back home.