Leonardo Ulloa, From An Unknown Name In Argentina To Glory With Leicester
Leonardo Ulloa, an unfamiliar name in South America, was the only Argentinian player on the teamsheets of Leicester when the soccer team entered the English soccer history books by winning the Premier League championship for the first time in 132 years.
Ulloa, 29, is the eighth Argentinian to celebrate a league win in England after Carlos Tevez (Manchester United and Manchester City), Sergio Aguero, Martin Demichelis (Manchester City), Hernan Crespo (Chelsea), Juan Sebastian Veron and Gabriel Heinze (Manchester United).
However, the forward is practically unknown by the fans in the South American country since he had a fairly insignificant career in local soccer.
Ulloa, who was born one month after Argentina’s national team won the World Cup 1986 in Mexico, began his career at 16 years old in the South American country’s second division club Comision de Actividaded Infantiles (CAI) from Comodoro Rivadavia in the southern province of Chubut.
His good performance attracted San Lorenzo de Almagro to the youngster and he was contracted in 2005 as a hope for the future.
Despite forming part of the squad that won the Clausura 2007 tournament, Ulloa participated in it very little and in the two years he was at the club he only scored three goals in 31 matches.
In 2007, Ulloa went on loan to Arsenal de Sarandi (three goals in 12 matches), where he won the Copa Sudamericana and the following year he played for Olimpo de Bahia Blanca (three goals in 14 matches). Ulloa was part of the team when Olimpo were relegated to the second division.
Without a place in Argentinian soccer, Ulloa was transferred to CD Castellon in Spain’s second division for 800,000 US dollars in mid-2008. The amount paid for the player was a record figure for the small Valencian community club.
Ulloa played there for two seasons and began to show his talents as a striker — 31 goals in 78 matches. This attracted UD Almeria, in the first division, to notice Ulloa and they bought him for the 2010-2011 season.
Ulloa stayed with the Andalucian side for two years and, even though the team was relegated to the second division, Ulloa was one of the most noteworthy players, scoring 48 goals in 102 matches, the highest amount in his career.
In January 2013, the Argentinian moved to England’s second division clubs Brighton and Hove Albion and his 26 goals in 58 matches attracted interest from Leicester. Ulloa joined the Premier League side mid-2014 when the team’s main objective was to avoid relegation.
In his first season at the English club, Ulloa played in 37 of the 38 matches and scored 11 goals, becoming one of the team’s key pieces, helping Leicester avoid relegation at the end of the season.
Although Ulloa was in the shadow of Jaime Vardy, in the 2015-2016 season the Argentinian scored six goals in 27 matches. Some of these goals were fundamental in the team’s Premier League victory.
So without much success in Argentinian soccer, Ulloa knew how to make his own path based on sacrifice and now his name will appear alongside some of the greats in the history of Argentinian soccer players abroad.