The Venezuelan defender saw his reputation enhanced even further during the South American Under-20 Championships as he helped his country qualify for the World Cup Finals for the first time. Goal.com profiles the highly-rated starlet...
José Manuel Velásquez
Date of birth: 08/09/1990, 18 years of age
Place of birth: Ciudad Bolívar
Height: 1.84 Mts.
Weight: 78 Kgs.
Position: Central defender
Team: Deportivo Anzoátegui
Jose Manuel Velasquez, or Sema as he is popularly known, launched his football career at the age of just six when he began to play for a variety of junior clubs in his home town.
His first offiical side was Mineros de Guyana, where he made his debut aged 16, but before they realised what a gem they had on their books he left to join Guaros de Lara in 2007.
Having made himself a regular in the team at 17, Deportivo Anzoategui picked up on his undoubted talent and made a move to secure his services at the beginning of 2008.
Sema has earned a reputation for his maturity, strength in defence and his personality, all of which has seen him become the captain of several of the teams he's played for.
Other attributes include his tackling ability and his desire to move forward when possible, as well as the fact that he can play in the defensive midfeild role comfortably. His strength in the air also makes him an asset both at the back and when going up field.
In 2008 his career began to take off as he played more and more for Anzaotegui thanks to the rule that obliges clubs to field players under 20, and he ended the year with a debut for the full national team.
Velasquez is a player with great internationl experience for the Vinotinto side. He has played at every level from Under-15 to Under-20.
In 2007 he marshalled the Under-17 team's defence as they earned a place in the World Cup in South Korea and in the same year he was called up to the Under-18 side to play in the Panamerican Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Last year he continued to grow as he prepared for the South American Under-20 championships and his performances towards the end of the year ensured him a place in the squad for the games.
On November 20, 2008, Sema was called up to the Venezuela first team after coach Caesar Farias chose to try him at the highest level in a friendly against Angola. He played the entire 90 minutes and had an impressive game.
Now in 2009 he has experienced the South American Under-20 championships and helped his team to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in their history. In the decisive game against Uruguay he scored with his head.
Velazquez has spent around a year with Deportivo Anzoategui, but already the fans know that their star defender may not be in their ranks for very much longer.
In May 2008 he had a trial with Villarreal in Spain and the club were impressed and are still considering signing him to play and learn the European game in their B side.
Matías Ferreira, Goal.com