South American Under-20 Profile: Cristian Mejía (Colombia)

The diminutive Colombian forward started the Under-20 tournament as a substitute, but has forged himself a place in his nation's starting team. profiles the rising star...
Personal Information

Cristian De Jesús Mejia Martínez
Date of birth: 11/10/1990, 18 years old
Place of birth: Barranquilla
Height: 1.67 Mts.
Weight: 65 Kgs.
Foot: Right
Position: Forward
Team: Tolima

First Steps

From a very young age, Cristian Mejia played in the junior teams in his hometown of Barranquilla where he wore the colours of La Garra de Carrizal, San Judas Tadeo and Escuela Barranquillera.

At the age of 16 he was spotted by scout Humberto 'Tucho' Ortiz who was impressed by his ability playing up front and helped push through a move to Deportes Tolima.

Mejia is characterised by his dimiutive frame but he still dazzles with his great use of the ball, his ability to pass players and his speed off the mark. All those skills caught the attention of Hernan Torres, Tolima's technical director, who gave the youngster a chance with the first team.

On July 27, 2008 he made his first division debut in the second game of the Copa Mustang II against La Equidad. His first game could not have gone much better as he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for his side.

Since then, Mejia has become a very important player for Torres, who named in him in his starting line-up even in matches where he was not obliged to field a player under the age of 20.

Tolima went on to stay in and around the higher places and Mejia finished the term with 16 games played, although he was unable to score again.

Althoug he may not have added to his goals tally, that does not reflect on how well he has played. He was normally used as the second striker, even though he can play on the wing and in midfield, to take advantage of his technical ability that means he can create play and provide the passes for his team-mates to score. He also has a good eye at free-kicks and penalties.

National Team

Thanks to his performances for his club, Mejia was called up to the Under-20 team at the end of 2008 by Jose Helmer Silva, Eduardo Lara's assistant and the coach of the Under-20 outfit, and he began to prepare for the tournament in Venezuela.

Mejia was then named in the squad for the event, but started the competition on the bench.

After the coach decided that Cristian Nazarith and Marco Perez were not performing as well as he would like, he gave Mejia a chance and he earned a place in the starting team.

The Future

Mejia is one of the most promising young players at Tolima, who are currently in an economic crisis that has seen their stay in the top flight called into question.

The president and majority shareholder, Gabriel Camargo, would be likely to welcome a bid for Mejia and let him leave in order to help ease the financial situation at the club.

For the time being the player himself is only focussed on progressing with Tolima, despite the fact that several European clubs' scouts have noted his ability.

Martin Decaux,