Nicolás Ignacio Castillo Mora, or simply Nicolás Castillo, is a new signing of Benfica’s football team for the 2018/19 season. The 25-year-old forward represented the Mexicans of Pumas where he the supporters vibrate with is goal scoring ability that he had already shown at Universidad Católica, of Chile, where he was born on February 14th, 1993.
At the age of four, Castillo joined the football schools of Lourdes where he remained until he was seven years old. A Universidad Católica’s fan by the influence of his grandfather, who took him to the team’s matches, Castillo joined the grassroots of Colo Colo. In 2005, he fulfilled his dream of wearing the jersey of the Chilean emblem he loved the most and he remained there until 2013. He moved up the ranks and in 2010, at the age of only 17, he signed his first professional contract.
SOME OF CASTILLO'S NUMBERS
|Universidad Católica (Chile)||58|
Leonardo Zamora: “He is very powerful, he likes to play and makes the team play”
In exclusive statements with the Official Site, Leonardo Zamora, who was the assistant coach of Mario Salas at Chile U-20 national team and at Universidad Católica in 2016, depicted a player that he knows very well.
“Nicólas is a very powerful forward, who shoots very well. Apart from being a good striker, he is a penalty box forward, a good team player, who likes to play and makes the team play. He has good shooting ability, he has a good aerial game, despite not being a very tall forward. He works well as a striker”, he revealed.
“The right foot is the stronger one, but he also scores goals with his left foot. He is also a good free kick and penalty taker”, added the coach on the Chilean international.
Castillo already had and experience in the Old Continent. He played in Europe between 2013 and 2016, and now he is back. Leonardo Zamora thinks that this is the best moment and the right club.
“It seems to me that Castillo is in a personal and maturity moment that positions him better now than when he was in Europe for the first time. It seems to me that Portugal, by the football that is played and by the country itself, which is more Latin than the countries where he has been, will allow him to feel more comfortable to display the many qualities he has. He lived a season abroad, in Mexico, and he seems more prepared. The Portuguese football is very demanding. However, with the mentality he has now, with the evolution he has made, with his current maturity and the professional he is, I have no doubt that if he maintains the level he showed at the Catholic University and in Mexico, he will succeed in Benfica "he assured.
Michel Preud’homme: “A true forward who finishes quickly”
At the age of 20, Castillo scored 29 goals at Universidad Católica and drew the attention of Club Brugge, who signed him. In Belgium, he was coached by Michel Preud’homme, a former Benfica goalkeeper, that at the time praised the Chilean international.
“He is a true forward, who looks to finish quickly. If he sees an opportunity to finish, there is no doubt he is going to score. He always looks for the best path”, said then Preud’homme to the Belgium press.
One of the most striking aspects in Castillo is the ability he demonstrates in the set pieces, namely the free-kicks and penalties, and the pressure he puts on the opposing defenses.
“He trains the free kicks quite a lot. We already knew he was good at it when we signed him. Is aggressive in attack and puts a lot of pressure on the defenders”, said Preud’homme.
“A killer that always wishes that someone to assist him to score goals”
That was followed by short spells at Mainz (Germany) and Frosinone (Italy) before returning to Chile. Castillo added the maturity to the inborn talent, scored many goals, most importantly five goals in the 2-6 win over Deportes Iquique and scored four braces. Such accuracy put the forward who had made his debut for the Chile National Team on Pumas’ radar.
In Mexico, he hit the ground running and astounded some of Pumas’ old legends. Luis García considered Castillo “a killer, and ‘animal’”, warning that he “is always wishing for someone to assist him to scored goals”.
Enrique Borja followed the same line: “Castillo is a great goal scorer. He can always be scoring.”
He had just arrived in 2016/17, to play the Clausura Tournament, Castillo registered an impressive average of 1,08 goals per match, finishing that season with 21 goals in 25 encounters.
In 2017/18, he finished the season with 18 goals – three braces and one hat-trick– in 32 matches in all competitions for Pumas, and he also made three assists.
A career filled with goals and titles
At the age of 25, Nicolás Castillo has racked up 97 goals playing for all the clubs. Since a young age he stood out and that led to several individual AWARDS at the youth teams and at the senior level:
- Best youth football player of Universidad Católica (2010);
- Top scorer of the U-17 Championship (2011);
- Best young player of the Copa Sudamericana (2012);
- Named of the best XI of the U-20 South American Championship (2013);
- Top scorer of the fist division in Chile - Apertura and Clausura Tournament (2016).
In collective terms, he WON:
- 1 Copa América;
- 1 Belgium Cup;
- 1 Chile Clausura League;
- 1 Chile Apertura League;
- 1 Chilean Cup;
- 1 Chilean Super Cup.
Text: Marco Rebelo
Pics: SL Benfica /Archive