A terror down the wings

Published : Sep 26, 2015 00:00 IST



Swansea’s Jefferson Montero has been one of the stars of the season so far and his attacking runs down the left have seen him trouble several full-backs already, writes Steven Downes.

The start of the new season has seen several lesser known players grab the spotlight at the expense of more established rivals and few have made quite as much impact as Jefferson Montero.

The Swansea winger has been one of the stars of the season so far and his attacking runs down the left have seen him terrorise several full-backs already.

The Welsh side remain unbeaten despite a tough opening four matches, which has seen them go to Stamford Bridge and host Manchester United. A deserved 2-2 draw at defending champions Chelsea made the rest of the league sit up and take notice, with a 2-1 victory at home to United confirming that it was no fluke.

The performance at Chelsea is best remembered for the way Branislav Ivanovic, widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the EPL, struggled to deal with Montero.

His lightning pace, quick feet and desire to beat his man are a thrill to watch — and all this from a player who barely speaks a word of English. That is not going to hold him back though when he has worked so hard to reach this level.

Having been brought up in a small rural house, he seemed destined to follow in his father’s footsteps by picking bananas for a living. Football offered him a better life and he started his professional career at Club Sport Emelec before moving on to Club Social y Deportivo Independiente Jose Teran in Ecuador’s second division and then a loan spell in Mexico with Dorados de Sinaloa.

He made his Ecuador debut in 2007 and his first chance in Europe came in 2009, when, at the age of 20, he was handed a five-year contract at Villarreal in Spain. Although much of his debut season was spent playing for the reserves in the second tier of Spanish football, he helped them to an impressive seventh-place finish and was subsequently promoted to the first team.

He could not establish himself in the side though, and after loan spells at Levante and Real Betis, he was forced to return to Mexico on a three-year contract after being sold to Monarcas Morelia.

It seemed a backward step and the end of his European dream, but Montero was not about to give up so easily and soon impressed for his new club. In two seasons he made 63 appearances, scoring 10 goals, and was included in Ecuador’s squad for the 2014 World Cup, making his tournament debut in a group game against Switzerland.

Once again he caught the attention of European scouts and Swansea swooped to sign him in July 2014 for an undisclosed fee and he made his debut in dream style, coming on as a substitute in a 2-1 win over Manchester United.

He has gone from strength to strength at Swansea and the early signs are that this could be the season in which he takes his talent to another level.

His performances drew praise all round and prompted former Arsenal and England defender Martin Keown to say: “I never got to see Stanley Matthews play, but this guy Jefferson Montero has got full-backs on toast.”

Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand also said on Twitter that if he were a top four manager he would take Montero “real quick”, but Swansea refused to part with any of their star men before the transfer deadline.

It means Montero remains a Swansea player. Good news for the fans, bad news for EPL full-backs.

FACTFILEName: Jefferson MonteroPosition: WingerClub: SwanseaD.O.B: 1/9/1989Ecuador caps: 49Ecuador goals: 9

Moment to remember: Representing his country at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Moment to forget: His return to Mexico in 2012 looked to be the end of his hopes of establishing a career in Europe.

© PA Sport

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