Name: Carlos Alberto Vela Garrido
Nickname: El Bombardero
Date of Birth: March 1, 1989
Place of Birth: Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico
EU Passport: Spanish, UK Work Permit
Height: 178cm / 5 ft 10 in
Weight: 72 Kg
Brother: Manuel Alejandro Vela Garrido (playing for Cruz Azul in Mexico)
Position: Striker, Winger
Current Club: Arsenal Football Club
Contract until: 30.06. 2015
Youth Club: 2002 – 2005 Club Deportivo Guadalajara
Clubs: Arsenal, Celta Vigo, UD Salamanca, CA Osasuna (all on loan)
National Career: 2005 – 2007 Mexico U17, U20 and National Team
International Debut: September 2007 against Brazil
Honours: FIFA World Cup Champion 2005 U17 Mexico and Topscorer, CONCACAF Gold Cup 2009 Champion
Carlos Alberto Vela Garrido, was born in Cancún, (Quintana Roo) Mexico, on March the 1st, 1989, as the younger brother to Alejandro Manuel Vela.
His father Enrique was born in Campeche and his mother Manuela in Tabasco they have lived 35 years in Cancun, Quintana Roo where they met and started their family formed by 4 sons, Enrique, Alejandro, Carlos and Miguel. The passion for football soccer installed to them by his father who was an amateur player until a serious injury made him leave the game once for all.
His first football pitch was his living room where he used to team up with his brothers 2 against 2 destroying all of his mother’s porcelain.
He started playing at the age of four in the same team his older brothers, Enrique and Alejandro, where the youngest boy was six, but with a special permission from his parents, he was able to train with the team and after watching out on his great talent, Felix Acal his first coach made him part of the squad. A year after they opened a new group for boys of his age, but he refused to play there, because it was too easy for his skills.
In Cancun he attended a public school even though private schools could offer him a better education with a football scholarship, but Carlos felt happy in his school with his friends . His brother Alejandro describes him as lazy and said, he only studied because he had to.
At the age of 12 he started combining football with basketball and he finally noticed how much he liked this sport and his skills showing it. His football coach suggested him to join the basketball team, Carlos took seriously this new sport they even nicknamed him “Jordan” after the famous basketball player Michael Jordan, many rival teams started setting the basketball game dates the same days he had football games so he wouldn’t play , and because of that he had to make the decision either to continue in basketball or football.
On 2001, when Cancun couldn’t offer the football opportunities Carlos was looking for his brother Alejandro and himself to move out, Jose Luis “El GÜero” Real ,Guadalajara’s manager invited his brother to join the club and asked him for the best players in Cancun , of course Alejandro said “my brother”, even though Chivas didn’t accept players that are so young, they invited him to a league in Argentina without helping him with any of the expenses. Carlos had to raise money by selling everything he could to pay for the trip.
On 2003, after a competition in the North of Mexico, everything changed he started to received offers from many important Mexican Clubs such as Monterrey , Pumas and Pachuca.
Pachuca couldn’t offer him the scholarship he was looking for and he arguing he didn’t felt comfortable in the city he moved back to Guadalajara where he could count with his brother’s support. He was 14, when he finally stayed in Guadalajara, under the care of his best friend Javier Barreto’s parents.
Carlos started out like most young boys, learning from the people around him, and his brother the fore-mentioned Alejandro, showed early talents as a footballer, and Carlos followed him into the game and signed for Chivas de Guadalajara aged just 12.
After only a short period of time, he was showing talents beyond his years as a left footed striker, with intelligence and class his goal scoring record was attracting attention, and after rising through the ranks, he was called up to the Mexico Under 17’s side to play in the Under 17’s World Cup in Peru in 2005, a tournament in which would prove vital in his future development.
He was giving a starting birth, and scored goals for fun in the early stages, and became the lynch-pin of the side, However he saved his best performance till last, against favourites Brazil in the tournament’s final.
Scoring in the final, as Mexico ran out 3-0 winners, and claimed the trophy, Vela was named the top scorer of the tournament with 5 goals and claimed the Adidas Golden Boot.
After the World Cup, Jorge Vergara, owner and president of Chivas de Guadalajara, offered to sign him to professional terms, and, since the Vela family lived in the then recently storm stricken Cancún, Quintana Roo, Carlos Vela asked that as a condition to his signing with Guadalajara, the club also help relocate his family.
He had also previously showed his great affection to his father, whose birthday fell on the day on which Mexico beat Brazil in the final for the World Cup, by carrying the cup to his father as a birthday present and dedicating his Golden Boot to him.
However after his impressive spells, other sides were now on his trial, and English side Arsenal faxed an offer in November 2005 of £2.5 million which Vergara accepted and after a medical, he penned terms on a 5 year contract, the full fee would be made after appearances and goals.
But his Arsenal career came to halt before it had even begun, due to issues with non-EU citizens which prevented him from playing in England it seemed he would not be able to make the move, further doubt was cast after the Gunners had a “Exceptional Talent” visa application turned down.
In a lucky twist of fate, David Dein agreed to send the prospect to newly formed link side Celta de Vigo in January 2006, where he was to gain experience and the required work permit, but after not featuring in any of the Spanish outfit games in the run to the end of the season, a furious Arsenal had offers from other sides to take him on loan, but they stuck with Celta, who announced they could not take Carlos, due to restrictions regarding non Spanish players.
Arsenal cancelled the loan, and the link status, and former new alliances with UD Salamanca in the Spanish Segunda, who agreed to take the Mexican, after a short settling in period, he was soon a regular in the team, and in the goals, the fans grew to love him as the season drew to a close, after 8 goals in 31 games Arsene Wenger, who had by now become a huge fan of the prospect, decided he needed a fresh challenge, and he was placed on the loan list.
UD Levante, Almeria, Real Betis and Osasuna all made offers for his service, and later on that summer, Vela agreed a switch to the latter on a one year loan, with the option of a further year, however no permanent agreement was included in the deal further adding to reports Wenger wanted him in his first team.
After only being with the La Liga side for a short time, he was selected to play for the full Mexico national team, in a friendly with Brazil, he then went on to play in a friendly game against Guatemala played in Los Angeles, in October and scored his first international goal in the match he then went on to play against the USA in February 2008.
After his goals for Mexican during the summer Carlos enjoyed a long break with this family in Mexico, before returning to London Colney for training on July 14th. He stated after finally completing his move to London that he would be living away from his family, and that he hoped to become Arsenal’s ‘warrior’.
Vela continued to work hard during the sessions, quickly striking up strong bonds with both Theo Walcott and Brazilian midfielder Denilson. After a mixture of ball and physical work, Carlos was included in the travelling party for the first pre-season friendly against Barnet, but an ankle knock meant he was withdrawn 24 hours before kick off. The Gunners won the fixture 2-1, with Jay Simspon and Nacer Barazite on target.
However, just days later the club flew out to Hungary for a training camp and for a fixture wit newly promoted Szombathelyi Haladás. Vela started against the minnows, who took the game to the Gunners and took the a first half lead, eventually equalized by Theo Walcott. The Mexican was praised for his performance, but many felt his best was still to come.
Carlos hit back at any critics in the very next fixture in Austria against Burgenland XI, as he started and bagged a stunning hat-trick as Arsenal romped the XI for 10. He combination work and awesome finishing caught the eye, with the pick of his goals a neat side footed finish through the keepers’ legs for 2-0.
Next up was the first real test against German outfit VfB Stuttgart, and although he started on the bench, Vela would have a huge part to play in the game. After van Persie and Adebayor failed to unlock the defence in the first 45 minutes, the 19 year old was introduced with the instruction to get his side a goal.
Things quickly got worst when the home side took the lead, but minutes later Carlos broke the offside-trap before rounding Jens Lehmann and smashing home. An emphatic equaliser, but things would get better. Vela and Bendtner combined for Nicklas to score the second, before Vela was replaced late on.
Arsène Wenger always expects the final days of the transfer window to be like a poker game. After some initial problems with Carlos visa, Arsenal finally got their man. I can imagine if Arsene does play poker he would have the best poker face in the business.