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How Jesús ‘Tecatito’ Corona became Mexico’s most exciting young soccer star

June 17, 2016
Corona's family cheering him on at a bar in Hermosillo.

Tecatito Corona’s friends and family cheering him on at a bar in Hermosillo during the Copa América.

With 79 minutes expired on the game clock, Martha Elena Ruíz is in agony. Mexico are trailing 1-0 to Venezuela in the Copa América in a game they need to tie in order to finish atop their group and avoid tournament favorites Argentina in Saturday’s quarter-final. Nervously sipping a Tecate beer at a sports bar in Hermosillo, an industrial city in the heart of the Sonoran desert, Ruíz is sitting beside her husband, Narciso Corona, three of their children, and a dozen other friends and relatives, all proudly wearing Mexico jerseys.

“Bien, hijo,” she says in encouragement as her son, Jesús “Tecatito” Corona, picks up the ball 30 yards from goal and just left of center. “Vamos mi amor, vamos.” Seconds prior, the 23-year-old Corona, sporting what one commentator described as a “Pebbles Flintstone haircut,” had skirted past several defenders and curled the ball just wide of the far post. It would have been a stunning goal. This time he pulls off something even more spectacular, somehow skipping between five opponents before slamming an unstoppable shot into the back of the net. The bar erupts, with his family members screaming for joy and exchanging elated hugs and high fives.

Tecatito with his childhood team. He's the one kneeling in front of the coach. Courtesy Corona family.

Tecatito with his childhood team. He’s the one kneeling in front of the coach. Courtesy Corona family.

The game finishes 1-1; Mexico stay atop Group C and Corona is named man of the match. Minutes later he texts his mom to tell her he loves her and that he dedicates the goal — arguably his most impressive yet for Mexico’s national team — to his family.

Having come on as an 18th minute substitute after Javier Aquino went off injured, Corona had been at the heart of all of Mexico’s best moments, relentlessly driving forward as if affronted by his omission from the starting lineup, even if it was only intended to keep him fresh for the next round…

Click here to read this feature in full at VICE Sports. 

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