South American Under-20 Player Profile: Michael Castro (Ecuador)

With the first phase of the South American Under-20 tournament complete, Goal.com looks back at some of the best players that will not be appearing in the next stage. Ecuador's Michael Castro showed why he is so highly rated and deserving of a profiled look at him...

Personal Information

Roberto Michael Castro Cadena
Date of birth: 15/07/1989, 19 years old
Place of birth: Quito
Height: 1.78 Mts.
Weight: 76 Kgs.
Foot: Right
Position: Central defender
Team: Deportivo Quito

First Steps

Michael Castro has spent his entire career with Deportivo Quito, the club that he joined when he was just 11 years of age.

Since his earliest playing days he has been a central defender like his father Eduardo, who also played for Deportivo Quito, and his brother Carlos, who currently plays for Sporting Club Barcelona.

From a very young age, Castro showed great temperament and leadership and he was made captain of his youth team almost as soon as he began to play for them. His official debut in the first division came when he was just 16, under Argentinian coach Jorge Benitez.

By then, Castro was already an experienced player and a solid defender that excelled in the air despite not being that tall.

In 2007 his career really blossomed as he began to play regularly for Deportivo Quito, appearing 35 times for them. The following season he played another 27 games for the club and was occasionally given the captain's armband in a campaign that saw the club crowned as national champions for the first time in 40 years.

The main strengths of Castro on the pitch are related to his personality. He has a strong temperament, is a perfectionist as well as being disciplined and has a great sense of responsibility. Also, he is intelligent and is still studying despite his success as a football player.

When playing he always leads by communicating and signalling to his team-mates and issuing orders. In fact, he has admitted that if had not made it in football then he would have become a soldier.

All these characteristics have seen Castro dubbed the 'new Ivan Hurtado', as he has been favourably compared to the symbolic captain of the Ecuador national team.

National Team

With more than 60 games in the first division under his belt, Castro has more experience than almost every player his age and he became a favourite of the national youth teams' coaches.

Trainer Sixto Vizuete chose him to be the captain for the Under-18 team that played in the Pan-American Games in 2007 in Rio de Janeiro where Ecuador won the gold medal and his first international title.

When Vizuete took charge of the national team, his assistant Julio Cesar Rosero took over and Castro was then given the captain's armband for the Under-20 side too.

"They have given me this great responsibility and I have to show that I deserve it, not only with my desire but with my play too so that some day I can wear the captain's armband at the highest level," he said.

Castro has already been considered for a step up to the full team for Ecuador.

Future

In the South American Under-20 event in Venezuela, Castro showed everyone his ability, despite the early elimination of Ecuador.

With his dreams of playing in the Under-20 World Cup over, Castro's objectives for 2009 is to play in the Copa Libertadores de America, which Deportivo Quito have not done since 1998.

However, Castro's name is already on the agenda of several major clubs and when they start to make offers for his services it will be difficult for Quito to retain him as the club have an annual budget of only $3 million.

Martín Decaux, Goal.com