ALFREDO MORELOS: THE COLUMBIAN WHO FOUND HIS HOME IN TO SCOTLAND VIA HELSINKI
Rangers’ new sensation Alfredo Morelos has scored his way into the hearts of the Ibrox fans. The striker has been called up to the Colombia National Team for the World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Argentina. The call up has further suggested that the star striker will be in the frame for the upcoming Copa America next month.
The striker’s fine form for club will come as a boost for the National side as the tournament kicks off on June 11th. Colombia manager Reinaldo Ruedo still has to announce his final roster but it looks certain Alfredo Morelos will be leading the line for Colombia next month.
The 24-year-old striker has been a key man for manager Steven Gerrard this term as Rangers were invincible all season en route to the Scottish Premiership title. Morelos scored 17 goals in 43 appearances all campaign.
The impact that Morelos has had at the Ibrox has left a profound effect on the player, but he certainly remembers his early days and the people and coaches that helped him along the way. He has still kept in contact with his coach and president that gave him his first start at Deportivo Independiente Medellin.
Having made just twelve appearances and scoring once at Indipendiente, Morelos went out on loan and then on a permanent basis to the lesser-known Finnish League. He played for HJK Helsinki in the Finnish Veikkausliga. Although not one of the elite leagues, the stint was a stepping stone in Europe where Morelos had to prove himself.
In his first year, he scored 16 goals in 30 league matches, finishing the season with 26 goals in all competitions. He replicated his form in his second season scoring 20 goals in 24 appearances, where he also played in the Europa League. His appearances in Europe caught the eye of many clubs as his exploits proved too good for the Veikkasuliga.
His story although tinged with tragedy is an inspirational one. Hailing from a very poor family in Cerete Colombia, Morelos lost his sister at a very young age. His sister was his biggest motivation has been instrumental in him pushing himself to be the best.
Morelos has also credited his faith in God and his parents as a driving force. Having witnessed struggles as a kid, he dreamt of playing in Europe someday and thus give his parents a better life.
The Colombian hit the ground running in Scotland. He settled straight away netting 14 goals in a 35 league appearance and finished the season with 18 goals in all competitions. Having jumped to a more competitive league Morelos’ numbers in his debut season proved he belonged in Europe and further instilled in him the belief to kick on.
Morelos’ pedigree to kick on, boosted by the confidence of his debut season transferred into his second season as he topped the league scoring chart with 18 goals. The season also showcased a temperamental side to the striker as he was sent off five times in the same season. The most notable was his straight red card in the Old Firm derby after an incident with Scott Brown.
15 – Rangers forward Alfredo Morelos has been directly involved in 15 goals (nine goals & six assists) in 17 UEFA Europa League appearances since the start of last season; the most of any player. Talisman.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 11, 2021
Apart from him winning the golden boot his performances in the season earned him the Ranger’s player of the year, as well as being included in the PFA Scotland team of the year.
Morelos’ goalscoring prowess led to a host of clubs that were on the radar. After widespread speculation with regards to his departure, the striker decided to stay. Having gained the trust of Steven Gerrard, Morelos continued to dominate as Rangers went unbeaten en route to the Title.
STYLE OF PLAY
Nicknamed “The Buffalo” Morelos is a physically dominating player in the centre of the box, possessing great hold up play. Strong in the air as well as the pedigree to frustrate defences with his relentless press, Moreno has been nicknamed the Rangers Suarez by current boss Steven Gerard.
The Colombian combines his goal-scoring ability with a tough and strong mentality that works hard for the team. His attributes have often drawn criticism as he has a temperamental side to his game which has caused him to lose his cool on the pitch.
His disciplinary record has been highlighted more so in his second season in Scotland where manager Steven Gerard was forced to say that he couldn’t defend the striker anymore.
COPA AMERICA CHARGE
Achieving continental success will be on the immediate horizon for Morelos. Colombia’s has arguably one of the deepest squads in South America. The team will be headlined by world-class players like James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, Duvan Zapata, Luis Diaz who could all challenge for a position up front.
However, the rise of Morelos will certainly put his name in the reckoning. At 24 you get the feeling this is just the beginning of a very successful footballing story. Surrounded by experience Morelos could play a huge role in heading the Colombia line in next month’s Copa America.