Among a host of talented young players making a mark in Córdoba this season, Golazo debutant Jim Lee takes a closer look at Belgrano’s Leonardo Sequeira…
Santiago del Estero, the Argentine province with a population of less than a million people, is more known for its folk music than its footballers. Whether it’s the renowned Hermanos Abolos or the lesser-known Chango Funes, folk music is an important part of the culture in Santiago del Estero.
Santiago del Estero, after all, is still in Argentina, so to say football isn’t important would be a stretch. The most successful football club in Santiago del Estero is Central Córdoba, which is confusingly not in Córdoba. The club, founded in 1919, got its name from the railroad line that connected northern Argentina to Córdoba and is not to mistaken for the club of the same name from Rosario.
Multiple footballers have come out of northern province and played for some of the more famous Argentine clubs, including Luis Galván, who helped Argentina win their first World Cup title in 1978. But ask the majority of Argentine football fans to name a player from Santiago del Estero, they might struggle to name a single one.
But there is one name that perhaps Argentine football fans should get acquainted with – Leonardo Sequeira.
Leo was born in La Banda, a suburb of Santiago del Estero in 1995. He started playing with local clubs Agua y Energía and then Vélez de San Ramón before moving to Central Córdoba, making his first team debut in 2014. The next season, his first complete season with the club, he helped them gain promotion to the Primera B Nacional. He played three seasons with the club in the B Nacional, but in the final of those three seasons, Central Córdoba were once again relegated to the third tier.
In the summer of 2017, Belgrano de Córdoba (actually located in Córdoba) came calling for the services of Sequeira. So instead of playing once again in the third division, Leo was given the chance to move to a club in Argentina’s top flight.
He was brought to the Alberdi on loan with the option to purchase for just $350,000 USD and on September 22, 2017, made his Superliga debut against Tigre.
Subbed off in the 65th minute Sequeira had little to no impact on the match that finished goalless.
Belgrano were in desperate need of players who could not only create chances, but finish those chances and score. The draw against Tigre, would be the start of a five-match run without scoring a single goal and when Pablo Lavallén’s side did finally find the net, Belgrano had accumulated more than 580 minutes between goals.
It certainly did not appear that Sequeira would be the answer to Belgrano’s problems. As the calendar turned to 2018, Leo was yet to score for the club. In January Leo told MundoD in Cordoba, “The truth is that I don’t want to lose hope, at Central Córdoba I went through the same in the B Nacional, and then the [goals] started to come. I know that at some point they will come for me again, but for now, I want to give my best and help the team.”
Sequeira has still only scored one official goal for Belgrano (he scored twice in a friendly and once more against Racing that was ruled to be an own goal as it bounced off the keeper’s back). But ask any Belgrano fan and they will be quick to say that Leo has been one of the brightest stars for the club this season. Los Piratas have several young potential stars, but as recently as a couple of months ago, Sequeira would likely not have been listed among them.
Sequeira is a quick winger who is happy to play on either the right or left but has also shown the versatility to play multiple matches as the clubs number nine. Excelling in one-on-one situations against defenders Sequeira has been a perfect fit for Belgrano’s counter attacking style of play.
When Leo was brought to the club, Sebastian Méndez was the manager, but since Pablo Lavallén has taken over managerial duties in October, fans have started to get an idea of what Sequeira can offer. One of his best attributes is his lack of fear. His speed gives him the advantage over most full backs and he is not afraid to take the ball into the box and test the keeper or look for a teammate.
— Belgrano (@Belgrano) April 3, 2018
No, Sequeira is not setting the Superliga alight and most fans may not yet know his name, but he is still only 22. This is still his first year in Argentina’s top tier and his first season with Belgrano. It takes almost all players time to adjust to the speed and intensity of top flight football. The youngster still makes bad passes and tries to take on the defender when he should just make the simple pass to a teammate. He has plenty to learn. For now, he may be content contributing his ‘grain of sand’ to the Piratas, but if his improvement over the past month is a sign of what is to come, Leo Sequeira may be someone we all should become familiar with.
Jim is a former resident of Córdoba and Belgrano supporter and while not on Twitter, if you want to share your thoughts, leave a comment below.