Tuesday 25 July 2017, 13:53

Borquez, Chile's dedicated custodian

  • The best keeper at this year’s South American U-17 Championship

  • Neuer, Bravo and Courtois are his role models

  • Uses the internet "to study other goalkeepers and improve"

While most youngsters his age spend a lot of time on their gaming consul or YouTube, Julio Junior Borquez prefers to study goalkeepers when he is online.

“I’m someone that generally watches a lot of football,” the Chile U-17 goalkeeper told FIFA.com. “Above all, though, I look for clips of keepers training, or watch them in games and match highlights. I focus on all the small details to try and improve.”

Asked about his role models, the teenager says, “Neuer, Bravo and Courtois. Perhaps I identify a bit more with the first two because of the way they can play with the ball at their feet. Neuer is something of an exemplar for the future of goalkeeping.”

Borquez certainly seems to be on the right track to follow his heroes, having been voted best goalkeeper at the South American U-17 Championship in March, when La Rojita booked their place at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017.

To put his performances in context, it is worth noting that Chile secured qualification in front of an expectant home support and, in the four games his side won there (all 1-0 victories), Borquez did not concede a goal.

“Those clean sheets are not just down to me,” the Deportes Iquique graduate calmly explained. “It’s a group achievement and dependent on everyone doing their job. I did mine and my team-mates did theirs.”

The key game for Borquez was the 1-1 draw with Colombia in the group phase. Chile went behind after he came out for ball that he failed to collect. However, the young custodian duly made amends by saving a penalty at the death to ensure his side salvaged a point.

“That goal was hard to take but I’m mentally strong. That’s why I was ready to save the penalty and atone for my mistake. I often watch it again before a game as motivation. It reminds me that you should never give up.”

Did you know? Chile went into the final matchday of the Sudamericano needing to beat Brazil to take the continental title. Coach Hernan Caputo, himself a former professional keeper, opted to start Rodrigo Cancino in goal. Having conceded just four times in their six previous games, La Rojita then shipped five to the Brazilians to finish second.

“What did I say to Rodrigo? I fully supported him just as he’s always done with me. We need to fight for each other as the challenge we have ahead of us is immense,” revealed the 17-year-old.

Chile at India 2017 Chile have been drawn in Group F alongside England (who they play on 8 October), Iraq (11 October) and Mexico (14 October). “The heat and humidity will make it difficult, so that’s why we’re doing a lot of physical preparation. In footballing terms, we hope to be a match for whoever we face,” said the player.

Five questions

  • Why do prefer the name Junior? "I’ve what I’ve been called since I was a kid and I feel more comfortable with it"

  • Is it true you left school for football? "No. I finished my secondary education in night school"

  • Why did you choose goalkeeping? "I was about four, and one day our team was short a goalkeeper. I liked throwing myself about and trying to get the ball"

  • Something about you that has changed? "My weight. That was my Achilles heel. I’ve put that right and now I maintain it well"

  • Do you get recognised in Iquique? "Nowadays yes... But I always keep my feet on the ground and just focus on getting a place in the starting XI"

What they said about Borquez “When he arrived here, he told us he could play as a No10 or goalkeeper, so that explains why he has good feet. I’ve been impressed with how well he deals with things and how orderly his play is. His character and maturity also make him stand out. He knows where he wants to go, what his goals are, and what he has to do to achieve them.” Javier Di Gregorio, goalkeeping coach at Deportes Iquique