LARA Christian from Ecuador.His diminutive stature conceals a powerful physique that has deceived more than a few people. Nevertheless, it is his natural ball skills, rare playmaking vision and exceptional ability to hold off more physically imposing oppo
Name: LARA Christian
Date of birth: 27 April 1980
Height: 162 cm
Weight: 60 kg
Current Club: El Nacional (ECU)
Int'l Goals: 3 (as of 5-Jun-2006)
Int'l Caps: 19 (as of 5-Jun-2006)
First Int'l Cap: Ecuador v. Guatemala (12-Jan-2002)
Detail: Any team with designs on causing an upset at the FIFA World Cup need a player with a touch of audacity, someone who can unlock the meanest of defences and change a game when you least expect it. Ecuador have one such player in Christian Lara.
Christian Rolando Lara Anangono, to give him his full name, was born in Quito on 27 April 1980. He started playing the game in the streets of Mena del Hierro, one of the Ecuadorian capital’s northern suburbs, and soon achieved the first of many goals by making it on to his school team. Then, at the age of 12, he was snapped up by the club he has represented ever since, El Nacional.
As Lara himself says, he was born with “a gift for the game”, and you only have to watch him in action to see what he means. His diminutive stature conceals a powerful physique that has deceived more than a few people. Nevertheless, it is his natural ball skills, rare playmaking vision and exceptional ability to hold off more physically imposing opponents that really catch the eye. Such is his reputation for impish trickery that he has earned the apt nickname Diablito (Little Devil).
Lara’s debut appearance for El Nacional came in 1998, but he had to wait another four years before pulling on the yellow jersey of Ecuador for the first time. With one eye on squad selection for the 2002 finals in Korea/Japan, the national team’s then coach Hernan Dario Gomez gave him a chance to shine in a friendly against Guatemala on 12 January 2002. However, despite helping his side to a 1-0 win, he was omitted in favour of Alex Aguinaga and Edison Mendez for the trip to the Far East.
After also missing out on Ecuador’s opening games in Germany 2006 qualifying, Gomez called him up for the 2004 CONMEBOL Copa America in Peru. Unfortunately for Lara, a recurring shoulder injury resulted in a double date with the surgeon’s knife, and he was forced to sit the tournament out.
Nevertheless, the following year saw Lara’s international career take the upward turn many observers had long predicted. In February 2005, Gomez’s successor, Luis Fernando Suarez, named him in a squad for a short tour that included friendlies against Chile in Vina del Mar and Costa Rica in San Jose. It was just the opportunity Lara needed to show he belonged in international football, and he did not disappoint.
He had to wait until June last year, though, before an injury to Mendez prompted Suarez to draft him in for two crucial qualifiers against Argentina and Colombia. Starting on the bench against the Albiceleste, Lara made a dramatic second-half entrance with the game locked at 0-0, scoring the opener and teeing up Agustin Delgado for the second in a hugely significant 2-0 win.
The man from El Nacional later rounded off a wonderful year by claiming a Clausura championship winner’s medal. Now, with Suarez having finally unearthed the versatile, creative player he has been looking for, there is every reason to expect that this midfield livewire will prove a key figure in his country’s Germany 2006 challenge.