In 2011, Colombian TV aired a reality show called “Nike: The Chance.” The premise was to find the best undiscovered football talent in Colombia with the goal of getting the player signed by a team in Europe. Among the 800 players who were evaluated, one of them was an 18-year-old kid from the small city of Tumaco on the southern coast of Colombia, 1,100 kilometers from Bogota.
Possessing freak speed and impressive one on one abilities, Mauricio Cuero was quickly identified and was one of the players who won the opportunity to be featured on the “The Chance.” While the promise of becoming a European footballer did not immediately come to fruition, Cuero did go from an unknown kid in Colombia to a professional footballer when he signed his first contract with Club La Equidad from Bogota. Cuero was also included on the under-20 Colombian national team.
Even though Cuero had been playing football since he was a young child, he never imagined himself making a living from the sport he loved. After just a short time with La Equidad in Colombia, Cuero decided to take his shot in Europe where he was given a chance with both SC Bastia in France and Mallorca in Spain. Neither of the clubs decided to keep him on and he was left to figure out what the next step in his career would be.
During this time Cuero met Walter Perazzo, the Colombian born, Argentine nationalized footballer who was at the time managing Olimpo de Bahia Blanca. Perazzo brought Cuero to the club and gave him his first exposure to Argentine football.
Cuero stated in La Voz, “I came to Argentina to learn and progress. Perazzo gave me a great opportunity and played me in almost every match which helped me to understand that I needed to build confidence in myself.”
After having success with Olimpo, Cuero moved on to Banfield where the manager was Matías Almeyda. His success at Banfield led to Levante in Spain purchasing Cuero for 3.2 million Euros on a 5-year contract. However, he struggled to find any continuity in Spain and was sold to Santos Laguna in Mexico. While still owned by Santos, Cuero has been sent on loan to Tijuana in Mexico, Olimpia in Paraguay and finally, Belgrano in Argentina.
Belgrano’s manager Diego Osella knew of Cuero and during the January transfer window, made it clear that he was the type of player that would be needed to build his style at Belgrano. Since joining El Pirata in January, Cuero has quickly become one of the most beloved members of the squad. His speed and ability to create chances stands out on the pitch. Each time he gets the ball the fans perk up knowing that something special could be about to happen.
As Belgrano has struggled to score during the first six matches of the season, it was Cuero who worked his magic down the right side of the pitch, moving past two defenders and sending a cross into the box against Patronato which led to Marcelo Meli putting in Belgrano’s second goal of the match.
On a team that does not have a true striker, if they hope to stay up in the Superliga, players like Cuero will be required to continue to create chances for themselves and their teammates. Throughout the match, the fans applauded Cuero for his effort and determination to help El Celeste get their first victory since November.
From a reality TV show in Colombia to becoming a potential savior for one of Argentina’s most passionate fanbases, Mauricio Cuero is making the most of the opportunity that he has been given. An opportunity that just a few short years ago, seemed to be nothing more than a dream.
Jimmy lived in Córdoba, Argentina as a teenager and is still an active Socio for his beloved club, Belgrano. He currently lives in Seattle, WA and runs the Belgrano – English twitter account. Check out his weekly videos produced by Fanatiz about Belgrano and their relegation battle.