Wonderkid Factory | Part 27 | Greatest Colombian Manager Ever

Robinho Lazaró was proving that transfers weren’t everything in the beautiful game. He’d relied on Envigado FC’s prodigious youth development to continually churn out new starlets that had won 10 league stage titles, 2 Copa Sudamericana successes, a Recopa Sudamericana, a Copa BetPlay and 5 Súperligas.

Envigado’s success saw them become the 21st most reputable club in South America. And that was helping them keep hold of their top players as epitomised by the likes of Mateo Acevedo and Edisón Borrero, fresh from 53 goals last season, not being interested in moves to Boca Juniors.

Lazaró did move on a few players, bringing in a £1m profit for the likes of Johann Betancurt, Camilo Segura and Leyvin Cantor, who all had 12 months on their contracts. In their place, as is tradition, was a bunch of promising youngsters in 16-year-old midfielder Cristian Ortíz, centre-back Diego Cabellos, left-back Jhohann Belalcázar and goalkeeper Oscar González and 17-year-old holding midfielder Aldemar Trivino.

That promise was again added to by a youth intake which, by Envigado standards, was decent but not great. It delivered three 5-star potential talents led by goalkeeper Amaury Brochero, winger Juan José Vizcaino and midfielder Camilo Guzmán. Also worth keeping an eye on are striker Jhon Rivas, midfielder Ronnie Saer and winger Jorge Rentería.

Tactics-wise, Lazaró saw no need for change other than taking a more positive approach to most league games, as his young side was comfortably better than most teams in Colombia.

Early Season Silverware Chances

Evigado had two opportunities at silverware early in the 2035 campaign. First was a near-impossible task against Flamengo in the Recopa, and they lost 4-0 at home so Lazaró threw a backup 11 in and they only lost 4-1. A better opportunity was Súperliga, in which they took on Millonarios. The home leg was first up again and Acevedo scored twice to earn a 2-2 draw then Jaiber Prince and Acevedo earned the same result a week later. That sent the tie to penalties and, despite Acevedo missing the first spot kick, Envigado won the shootout 3-2 to win a fifth Súperliga in six years.

Apertura Season 14 Begins

Envigado had won back-to-back Apertura titles and three of the last five season-opening stages. And their chances of glory were considered higher than ever as they were predicted to finish 3rd with odds of 4/1 to win the league. Millonarios (2/1) and Nacional (3/1) are rated as the top two sides.

The season began with 10 players on international duty with Colombia U20s. But Envigado still had enough about them to hammer Santa Fe 5-1 led by Borrero and Acevedo braces. The same result followed in the first away game at América as Borrero bagged two more after goals from Acevedo, left-back Andrés Mira and captain Ronaldo Bermudez. They settled for a 3-1 at home to Fortaleza with Borrero scoring again before Acevedo added two, then Borrero scored consecutive braces in a 3-1 win at Quindío then a 4-3 win at home to Cúcuta.

The winning start ended as a fully rotated side only lost 3-2 at Orsomarso then won a crazy game at Junior 5-3 led by young centre-back Yaliston Hernández scoring a penalty then goals by striker Jhon Medina and winger Cristian Gutiérrez. Plenty more rotation followed but Borrero and Acevedo strikes led a 2-0 win over Nacional that sent them top of the league with five games remaining. A draw at Petrolera and easy 2-0 win over a poor Tolima side meant the league was basically won with two games to go. That was lucky as the final two games were played over three days and rotated teams still drew at Independiente then beat Deportivo Cali 3-1.

Copa Libertadores Group Stage

The mystery that is Copa Libertadores draw rankings saw Envigado placed in Pot 1 this season – potentially due to their Copa Sudamericana success. That got them a decent draw with Argentine side Alte. Brown (who finished 12th in Liga Profesional last season), Ecuadorian team Barcelona S.C. and a qualifier that annoyingly turned out to be Brazilian side Internacional.

They began at home to Alte. Brown and got a great start as Borrero scored after three minutes only to immediately concede. But a late Gutiérrez strike nicked all three points. A 1-0 defeat followed in Brazil but Borrero’s brace and right-back Manuel Rojas’ first career goal inspired a dominant 3-0 win over Barcelona. Borrero scored two more to nick a 2-0 win in Ecuador before Acevedo earned a 1-1 at home to Internacional.

That left Envigado three points clear of Alte. Brown and with a considerably better goal difference before their final day trip to Argentina. And they secured qualification in style with a thumping 5-1 victory, which was so good that it lifted them above Internacional into first place on goals scored.

Apertura Post-Season

Envigado got a post-season group alongside Independiente Medellín, Bogotá and Deportivo Cali. They began at Independiente and, despite a Borrero goal, they lost 2-1. But they got back on track by beating Bogotá 3-1 then defeating Cali 3-2 at home.

Lazaró celebrated his 900th match in management with a 4-2 win at home to Bogotá started by Acevedo’s early strike and polished off by a brilliant Borrero hat-trick. And the striker repeated the feat to down Independiente 3-2 and wrap up the group with a game to spare.

For the fourth time in five stages, the final pitted Envigado against Nacional, who’d lost the last four finals! The away leg was up first and a dominant performance saw Envigado rack up 21 shots to Nacional’s nine. And, after falling behind after nine minutes, they made them count as midfielder Gianfranco Bahoque opened the scoring, Borrero and an Acevedo penalty made the lead comfortable then centre-back Yaliston Hernández and another Borrero strike completed a huge 5-1 victory.

Their chances at home weren’t helped by midfielder Juan Fernando Rivas getting sent off just before half time, which allowed Nacional to mount a comeback and win 3-0. But Envigado just about held on for a 5-4 aggregate win, which saw Lazaró the least happy he’d ever been about winning a trophy – he was fuming with his team and fined Rivas two weeks’ wages.

Envigado won their 11th league stage title and their 9th of the last 12!!

The star of this half season has undoubtedly been Borrero, who already has 36 goals in just 30 appearances with an outrageous average rating of 7.74. While Acevedo has 15 goals and 14 assists in 29 games. But a key contributor has been Prince, whose 13 assists in 33 games already matches his tally in 48 games last season.

Greatest Colombian Manager Ever

This latest success saw Robinho Lazaró officially become the greatest Colombian Football Manager of all time. Having already topped the country’s managers in all competitions, he now surpassed Gabriel Ochoa as the most successful in the domestic game. He was also now the sixth-best South American manager ever, surpassing the likes of Tite and Luiz Felipe Scolari and closing in on the great Vanderlei Luxemburgo in third.

Looking to his players, Gutiérrez wasn’t first choice at Envigado, but he was good enough to join five of his teammates in the Colombia squad for the first time. That means the club has now produced nine players in the Colombia squad, from which former striker Francisco Ocampo was notably missing. He wasn’t handed a debut but midfielder Hernán Darío Lugo was, while Prince scored his first international goal in a friendly against Costa Rica in March.

Could Lazaró’s exciting young team continue their form in the second half of 2035? And could they get a favourable Libertadores draw? Join us on Monday to find out!


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