José Angulo 21 Striker Granada CF Ecuador
Let’s start with the good stuff.
Formidably talented, razor sharp Ecuadorian striker who made his debut for Independiente del Valle just over a year ago. Highly regarded in youth circles, the young striker was brought on as an impact sub by long serving coach Pablo Repetto during Independiente’s four league matches during September 2015, none of which Los Negriazules won. However, Angulo did enough over these cameo appearances to suggest he was worthy of a start. With his side slipping down the league standings, coach Repetto turned to Angulo over the veteran Carlos Quintero and the striker repaid his coach’s faith handsomely with two goals against Ecuador’s own River Plate in a 3-1 victory. From that point onwards, Angulo could not stop scoring, ending the season with fourteen goals in Independiente’s final ten league matches.
2016 has been...
The San Lorenzo born striker was the toast of his club at the end of 2015 and word quickly spread that a potential superstar had emerged. The following league season was a little more muted for Independiente, understandably as they went big on this year’s Copa Libertadores. Angulo was used more sparingly in the league where he would go on to score four times from nine starts, but his real impact came in the much higher prestige Libertadores.
A critical goal at Paraguay’s Club Guaraní set Angulo’s side away as they emerged from their initial qualification match to make the group stage. Although not a regular scorer at this point, Angulo was a threat throughout, often creating space for others, such as former 100 entrant Júnior Sornoza who was able to profit from the gifted striker’s direct running. Safely qualifying from their group, Independiente would go on to face some of South America’s biggest names – River Plate (The Argentina version), Pumas of Mexico and Boca Juniors in the knockout rounds. Independiente would slay them all. Angulo would score against each. If Europe’s elite clubs hadn’t been paying attention earlier, they would now. Angulo’s single strike against River, his brace against Pumas and a winning goal against Boca – all scored at home – would delight the tightly packed masses at the Estadio Municipal Rumiñahui Sangolquí.
Although Independiente would go on to narrowly lose a two legged final to Colombia’s Atlético Nacional, the Libertadores run will live long in the memory of football supporters throughout Ecuador. Angulo was a hero and after a hard fought battle to secure his services ahead of several larger names, CF Granada announced his signing on August 25.
And then it all went wrong.
Almost within hours of the ink drying on Angulo’s new five year contract Granada sporting director Javier Torralbo told Cadena Ser he had been informed by Independiente del Valle president Franklin Alberto Tello that the 21-year-old had tested positive for cocaine use. It would later emerge that his second test had also failed. By early September Angulo’s contract had been terminated and he now faces a lengthy ban – up to two years - from football.
The final sentencing for Angulo has not yet been confirmed by CONMEBOL so this particular issue has not reached a swift conclusion. In the Ecuadorian media, Independiente are continuing to make noises of support for their protégé, suggesting the whole issue was some kind of mistake, perhaps in the hope of the player returning after a period of rehabilitation. This will not chime with Granada though, who despite cancelling Angulo’s contract will not give up on his registration quite so easily. FIFA will also place significant pressure on the South American Football Association to make an example of Angulo in order to prevent other similar episodes in future.
The great shame here is that Angulo has effectively destroyed his career at a point when it promised so much. At the start of the year there was widespread belief in Ecuador that Angulo could easily go on to be one of the greatest players his country has ever produced. Having played such a critical part in driving a small club to within a single goal of South America’s greatest prize, what might Angulo have been able to deliver at a Copa America? or a World Cup? Perhaps the worst part is that Angulo’s ban will come as a result of a recreational substance, rather than a performance enhancer – something we believe to be a much more significant issue in elite football than the leading authorities will admit.
José Angulo had everything going for him and blew it. An impressionable kid was temporarily led astray and this will likely be something he regrets for the rest of his life. We may well see him again, but having caused so much damage at such a formative period in his development it’s unlikely we’ll ever see the real José Angulo.
E A disaster
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