Todo empieza aqui, con mi “Deportivo Cali”.
Desde muy joven en mi ciudad natal de Cali, Colombia, nos pasabamos jugando futbol en las calles de nuestros barrios, en los parques, en las escuelas y colegios, es un deporte que llevamos en la sangre, donde la palabra GOL se le escuchaba a cada joven en el dia a dia. Siendo Cali la tercera ciudad mas grande de Colombia contamos con dos equipos de futbol, el Deportivo Cali “La Amenaza Verde”, los Azucareros o el Glorioso como tambien se le llama y el America de Cali “La Mecha” o los Diablos Rojos, provocan en esta ciudad una gran rivalidad futbolera entre los hinchas de cada equipo en los famosos “Clasicos”, haciendo sentir esa pasion por un deporte que llena de alegria y emocion a toda esta hermosa ciudad. Al comienzo de los 80s, a mi arribo a los Estados unidos y con el futbol todavia corriendo por mis venas tengo la oportunidad de ver jugar a los mejores jugadores que el mundo en esa epoca jamas habia conocido, a ese gran equipo “El Cosmos” de Nueva York. En el 2010, JC me da la noticia que Philadelphia contaria con un equipo de futbol y que se llamaria la “Union”, y fue todavia mas emocionante al saber que contaria con dos jugadores Colombianos. En Abril 10 del 2010, cuando fui testigo del primer juego de la Union contra DC United en casa y en el recien construido estadio el PPL Park, me hizo recordar a mi equipo favorito “LA AMENAZA VERDE”, y ver jugar a la Union, escuchar las canciones y los gritos de furor y pasion de la barra brava llamada los “Hijos De Ben” (SOB) agitando las banderas de la Union oro y celeste al Final del Rio (The River End) de pie por largos 90 minutos nace una nueva pasion, por un nuevo equipo, y a la misma vez recordando esa epoca de joven que deje atras y que no olvidare….
FULL NAME: Asociacion Deportivo Cali.
CITY: Cali, Colombia.
STADIUM: Deportivo Cali. Cap: 55.000
COLOR: Green, White
PREVIOUS: The Cali Futbol Club (1912-1927) Deportivo Cali A (1943-1955)
NICKNAMES: Verdiblancos (The green and whites) , Azucareros (The sugar canes) y La Amenaza Verde (The green menace)
Deportivo Cali has a proud history as one of the oldest futbol clubs in Colombia as well as one of its most successful. The verdiblancos have won the Colombian championship eight times (1965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1996, 1998, and 2005) since 1948. Reached the final of the Copa Libertadores twice, though they have yet to walk away with the title. With the roots in educated Cali elite and a lineage dating back to the first organized futbol match in the city and the paint freshly dried on their brand new stadium ” Estadio Deportivo Cali “, with a capacity for 55.000 is the biggest futbol stadium in Colombia
In the early decades of the 20th century the wealthy elite of Cali sent some of their best and brightest sons to Europe to attend university. Along with an education, this boys returned with one of Europe’s most popular obsession ” Futbol “. Calling themselves The Cali Futbol Club (CFC) their first match was between CFC “A” and CFC “B” in the Versalles Pitch, the attendance was 300 spectators. By 1928 the name was changed to “Deportivo Cali A” the team was put together to represent Cali in the Colombian Juegos Deportivos Nacionales (a kind of national Olympics for Colombia). Deportivo Cali A continued to represent Cali in this Tournament throughout the 1930s and 1940s. During the next several years the club played against different teams from the country and by 1948 the team was ready to play its first professional season in the first division called Division Mayor de Futbol: Primera A. Their first match in the competition took place on August 15, 1948 and unfortunately ended in defeat, 2-0 at Barranquilla Club Atletico Junior.
Deportivo Cali A continued competition in the Dimayor until the end of the 1955 season, when they withdrew due to financial difficulties. Two year later another Cali club, Boca Junior, left the Dimayor but with an agreement that they could return to the league in two years. At the end of 1958 Boca Junior were unable to resolve their own financial problems and effectively ceded their place to a newly refounded Deportivo Cali.
Between 1965 -1974 Deportivo Cali, and Francisco “Pacho” Villegas Deportivo Cali’s most famoust coach saw its golden era. During this period , Deportivo Cali achieved 11 finals, from which they won 5 of 8 Colombian championship titles in the Copa Mustang . In 1978 Deportivo Cali reached the Copa Libertadores de America coached by famous Argentine Carlos “Salvador” Bilardo, losing against Boca Junior fron Argentina. During the 1980s Deportivo Cali began to fall behind in championship titles. In 1996, twenty two years after Deportivo Cali won its last championship title (1974), la Amenaza Verde (the green menace) earned another star under the guidance of coach Fernando ” El Pecoso ” Castro, and famous goal Keeper Miguel “El Show” Calero. Two years later 1998-1999 season Deportivo Cali won Copa Mustang in 1998 and reached the 1999 Copa Libertadores final for the second time in its history. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on their side and they lost to Palmeiras of Brazil during PK.
In recent years (2000-2007), the Colombian club Deportivo Cali, has seen a major downfall in quality of players, quality of team and general managers. During this time frame, la AmenazaVerde won one more championship in 2005. Deportivo Cali made it to the 2010-2011 quarter finals even when people were counted them out after the worst start in Deportivo Cali’s history by losing the first 4 games. In the quarter finals they were eliminated in PK by Atletico Nacional, in a match that could have gone either way. Besides Copa Libertadores the club has also disputed the Merconorte final and participated in Copa Sudamericana. Deportivo Cali is currently ranked 3rd in Colombian club ranking by the Conmebol. Deportivo Cali’s longtime rival America de Cali, have played 266 “Clasicos” , 101 victories by Deportivo Cali, 86 by America de Cali and 81 draws.
During the golden years Deportivo Cali had many of the best players to come across the Colombian futbol league. Some of those players included:
Jose Rosendo Toledo, El “Mono” Munoz, Miguel Escobar, Alfonso Escobar (JC’s Dad), Jairo “El Maestro” Arboleda, Oscar Mario “Tranvia” Desideiro, Diego Edison Umana, Henry “La Mosca” Caicedo, Unfortunately, some of this players did not received international fame but were an important part of the history. Among the key player in Deportivo Cali were Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama (MF) his mass of blond, permed hair made him one of Colombia’s most recognisable futbol players. Played for Deportivo Cali between 1995-1998. El Pibe was included in the FIFA 100, a list of the “greatest living futbol players” chosen by el “Rey” PELE to celebrate the 100th anniversary of FIFA. Pedro Antonio Zape (GK) played for the team between 1969-1985. Zape is considered to be one of the best GK in the history of Deportivo Cali, he was a member of three championship winning squads in 1969, 1970 and 1974. Miguel Angel Calero (GK) played for Deportivo Cali between 1988-1992, winning the 1996 Copa Mustang Division Mayor: Primera A. Faryd Camilo Mondragon also played for Deportivo Cali between 1990-1991, now playing for Philadelphia Union. Other notable players are: Giovanni Hernandez, Fredy Montero, Jamison Olave, Mario Yepes and Willington Ortiz.