Wonderkid Factory | Part 23 | Envigado: Most Reputable Club In Colombia

Envigado FC supporters were getting used to open-top buses cruising through town as their footballing heroes paraded yet another trophy. But winning four Finalización titles in a row and five of the last seven Liga BetPlay titles was an achievement most would have considered impossible when Robinho Lazaró was appointed 12 years ago. As a result, Lazaró was now considered a true Legend of the club.

Furthermore, Lazaró ticked off one of the overarching aims of his Wonderkid Factory challenge as Envigado became the most reputable team in Colombia. They’re also the 25th most reputable team in all of South America, with the nearest Colombian side being Atlético Nacional (45th) followed by Junior FC (48th) and Millonarios (55th). Just as impressively, Envigado is now the second-richest club in South America, only bettered by Brazilian side Operário Ferroviário, who Lazaró had never heard of.

The Envigado fans weren’t alone in admiring Lazaró’s efforts as Brazilian giants Corinthians and Vasco da Gama offered him job interviews in the summer of 2033. But he had zero interest in the step up in quality those teams could offer him.

Lazaró’s success had been achieved solely through developing Envigado’s youth products. And it seemed more were coming his way as the latest youth intake delivered seven “elite talents.” Six of the latest intake have 5-star potential, led by star graduate Yaliston Hernández, who’s already the sixth-best centre-back at the club, plus winger Andrés Sandoval, midfielders Juan Fernando Rivas and Aldemar Trivino, striker Kevin Cardona and goalkeeper Kennen Valerio.

Keeping An Exciting Young Squad Intact

For the first time in a long time, Lazaró didn’t lose any of his key players over the summer. But he did sell a couple of players he considered bad eggs. Full-back Oscar Arango was poor last season and moved to Cancún for £850k while holding midfielder José Martín Caceres had potential but was more intent on moaning so Lazaró was happy to take £1.1m from St. Louis City.

A few more youngsters stepped up to the first team in exciting 16-year-old midfielder Gianfranco Bahoque, winger Camilo Segura, who Lazaró was retraining as a left-back, and right-winger Yhojan Vivas.

Envigado are now fourth-favourites to win Liga BetPlay with odds of 9/1. Millonarios remain favourites at 15/8 followed by Nacional (7/2) and Junior FC (6/1). But left-back Andrés Mira, who now has 8 caps for Colombia, centre-back Rodolfo Vega, winger Jaiber Prince and striker Mateo Acevedo make the media’s dream 11.

The season began with the usual mass of players on international duty, this time with eight away at Campeonato Sudamericano Sub-17 for a month. But Envigado began in style by destroying Bogotá 5-0 away led by a brace from captain Ronaldo Bermudez and goals by Prince, Acevedo and winger Jonathan Arias.

A solid 0-0 with Millonarios was followed by Acevedo’s hat trick inspiring a 3-1 win at Pereira before a fully rotated team got thumped 5-0 at América! The first 11 returned to hammer Santander 6-2, in which the highlight was Mira finally scoring his first Envigado goal in his 193rd appearance for the club.

Acevedo bagged another hat-trick to inspire a 3-2 win at Petrolera, which sparked Envigado onto a 10-game unbeaten streak, including Prince scoring a hat-trick and centre-back Johann Betancurt getting his first senior goal to down Once Caldas 5-0. That left Envigado five points clear with four games remaining, which they extended by thumping 4th-place Orsomarso 6-2 led by a Bermudez hat-trick.

A fully rotated side lost 3-0 at Cortuluá but they still held a four-point lead going into the final two games. Bermudez scored the only goal at home to Tolima to secure two successive league stage wins in a row for the first time, and enabling Lazaró to rest players for the final game.

Copa Libertadores Group Stage

Envigado were placed in Pot 3 and Lazaró was fearing the worst. But they got the best draw possible in Group D alongside top seeds Alianza Lima, Argentine side Morón and Venezuelan side La Guaira.

The group began at home to Alianza and Prince stole the show with a goal and two assists for Acevedo to secure a 3-0 win. The same result followed in Argentina with goals from Acevedo, Arias and Luis Mendoza and qualification was virtually sealed by a 5-2 hammering of La Guaira led by another Prince pair of assists.

Acevedo’s brace at La Guaira confirmed qualification and he repeated the feat in a 4-1 win at home to Morón. That allowed Lazaró to rotate and lose 4-2 in Peru, in which Bahoque scored his first senior goal and exciting striker Edisón Borrero also scored, as it was still enough for top spot on goal difference. But Lazaró couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for Alianza.

Apertura Post-Season

Envigado’s top-spot finish earned a post-season group alongside Cortuluá, Deportivo Cali and Junior FC. They began by hammering Apertura holders Junior 5-0 inspired by the increasingly impressive Bermudez scoring twice and creating goals for Vega, Acevedo and Prince. Another home game followed as did another three points with a 3-1 win over Cali, before seizing control of the group by winning 2-0 at Cortuluá.

In classic Colombian style, the group finished with three games in five days. And a 1-0 loss at Cali made things very interesting but a rare Randi Redín goal and a late Mendoza second ensured they virtually qualified for the Final with a game remaining. So Lazaró fully rotated and a very young team earned a credible 1-1 against Cortuluá.

That teed up an eighth successive league stage final as Envigado took on Nacional, which was a repeat of the 2031 Apertura Final. The away leg was up first and an Acevedo penalty and a Prince screamer edged a 2-1 victory to defend at Polideportivo Sur. Envigado started the second leg better only for Nacional to score an indirect free-kick on their first attack. But a Vega header got them level then lovely play by Bermudez teed up Acevedo to put them in front and a towering Prince header extended their lead. Nacional got back into it through Luis Suarez (the Colombian one) but Envigado held on for a 3-2 win and 5-3 aggregate success.

Envigado won back-to-back league stage titles and a first Apertura title in three years!

Greatest Colombian Manager Ever

Lazaró’s success saw him become the greatest Colombian manager of all time, surpassing Gabriel Ochoa and moving onto 1134 points. His efforts to take this Envigado team to new levels were rewarded as the board handed him a new four-year deal to keep the manager at the club until 2036.

One of the most exciting talents coming through the ranks was winger Gutiérrez. That was proven by him becoming the first Envigado youngster since Marcelo Guzmán to be included on the NxGn list, albeit only in 48th place. Elsewhere, Acevedo was handed his first Colombia cap and is now the backup to former Envigado products Guzmán, who has 9 goals in 30 caps, and Francisco Ocampo, who’s yet to score in 12 caps.

Could Lazaró’s team continue their form into the second half of the season? And could they finally get a favorable second-round Copa Libertadores draw? Join us on Monday to find out!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Uncovering The Unsolved

Exploring history's greatest unsolved crimes and mysteries


Writing Football Manager content about some of the oldest football clubs in the world.

Load FM Writes

A written home for my Football Manager and Football ramblings.

Robilaz Writes

Freelance copywriter and content creator

Kartoffel Kapers

(Hopefully) making The Potato Beetles bigger than Jesus


Football Manager 2022 blogs

Dave Goodger FM

Musings from a Football Manager 2022 player as I attempt to manage my way across Europe and reach the very top.

%d bloggers like this: