“When I leave football, I’d like to be a psychologist. If I wasn’t that, then probably an entrepreneur”.
At 18 years old, Fede Vico is already looking ahead to his career after football. It’s the one he’ll have in it though that could bring him success – and if early signs are anything to go by, it’s going to be special.
Hailing from Córdoba, the exciting attacking midfielder has been causing quite the stir in Andalucía. Milan, Inter, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona and SL Benfica are just a few of the clubs to have taken a seat at Estadio Nuevo Arcángel to watch Vico.
So, who is he exactly? Why are all these teams watching him?
He began his life playing football at Juanin and Diego School of Football in Córdoba. The school has been operating for 27 years with the goal of unearthing and developing talents for Córdoba CF, and in 2000/2001 a young Vico arrived. Almost ten years later in 2010/2011, he would have his special season with Cordoba. He proved to be a sensation in the Juvenil A categories and earned a call-up to the ‘B’ team, before Lucas Alcaraz called him to the first team to complete a rapid rise. He was to become Córdoba’s second youngest ever player at 16-years and 203 days old. Then at 17-years and 243 days old, he scored his first goal to become Córdoba’s youngest ever goalscorer. Things were moving quickly.
Word began to spread around Europe about the player for the first time, and with the arrival of Paco Jémez and his fluid style of football Vico would take the next step, incidentally a huge one, in his development. Jémez, never fearful of opening a door for the cantera, decided the youngster should be rewarded with a more prominent role in the squad. The scintillating displays shown at Juvenil level and within the first team training, were too hard to ignore.
He was deployed in wide areas, switching between either flank but more often playing on the left side – to note, he is also left footed. Córdoba’s football was heavily influence by sustained spells of possession and often it could become bogged down. Vico was to be the desired solution. He showed desire, fearlessness and electricity when on the ball, opening teams up with his skill-set. Nuevo Arcángel would soon get to know that set very well, and rose to their feet when the slight figure and number 29 shirt began to warm up. Vico showed a fine understanding of Jémez’s methods balancing direct, incisive solo and associative play with defensive acumen. He learned quickly to be part of this system would mean high levels of pressure and actions taken to regain the ball, and one night at Riazor he gave Depor’s experienced Laure a torrid time.
What captures the eye most however is his left foot. It would be obsessed by the ball, with Vico offering close control to cut inside but also demolish on the outside. He brings others into play too, and manages to slip neat through balls into the channels or inside to the attack. Quick, skilful, direct and with unlimited energy – basically put, he made himself an absolute nightmare for any opponent. He made 24 appearances over the course of the season, with 5 of those as a starter. There were just the 2 goals, but his contribution to the team was the most significant quantity as Córdoba secured a play-off berth.
In the summer a formal transfer offer came from Portugal, and SL Benfica. A €1.5m bid was immediately rejected by Córdoba’s President. As things stand, Vico’s contract lasts until 2017 and is bound by a €5m release clause.
Vico’s current status at Córdoba is one taking a course of slowly maturing. Under Jémez being asked to be a direct threat with the idea of bursting through defences, new coach Rafael Berges is now looking for a more subtle approach. Vico has been removed from his role as a touchline grabber, and been instructed to acknowledge central methods of play. The role has been approved by Spain’s coaches, who have placed Vico ahead of a double pivot at U-19 level in a move to get Vico conducting play like Isco did at the same level. In a recent Friendly game he showed a fine understanding with Oliver Torres, as the pair created neat exchanges in central midfield. Vico has now gone through U-16, 17, and 18 levels before currently residing with U-19.
At still such an incredibly young age, Vico of course makes mistakes. Used to playing in such an energetic, direct manner he’s having to understand the different tempo and passages of play within a game. His head needs to be on the swivel more, looking to engineer openings for his teammates and offering more awareness. It’s not that Vico doesn’t possess the technique or general ability to weight a pass; it’s the decision making behind them he’ll need to improve upon. Still, the player insists it’s all okay: “It’s nothing new to me, I’ve played there with Spain before and I feel comfortable”.
As each game goes by, and as each mistake is made, Vico learns another lesson. At the same time though he’s causing problems for opponents, and his brand of vibrancy remains to light up the Córdoba team. Berges too, will play an important role in finding the balance between giving Vico regular minutes and wrapping him in cotton wool.
So where next for Fede? Firstly, finishing the current campaign with Córdoba in a strong manner is essential. If he can do this, then his explosion will be only a matter of time.