“The moment he scores, he will shoot himself”: Colombian champion of the 2001 Copa América asks to tone down bullying against Borré

Luc Williams

Ivan Lopez, one of the two Bogota residents called by Francisco ‘Pacho’ Maturana to compete in the 2001 Copa America, He got into football early when he made his debut, in a classic against Millonarios at El Campín in 1996, at just 16 years of age. He also did so on the night of Sunday, June 10, when he was the first of those chosen to defend the honor of national football in the tournament -which for the first time in its history would be held in Colombia-, to arrive at the headquarters of the concentration in Barranquilla, after having been a star with Santa Fe in a match of the local championship.

He had turned 23, he already knew what it was like to wear the tricolor, but in the five years of his career, this was the most important call-up of his life, after the Gold Cup in 2000, He was once again included in a squad to compete for a trophy, which he would have to live with for a month and a half and 24 hours a day, to be the only one to lift the cup.

Ivan Lopez never imagined that from the first day to the last of the training camp he would have to take on two daily tasks. In the morning, Maturana ordered him to lift the balls sideways in all training sessions. In the afternoon he had to complete the task imposed by his roommate, who taught him lessons every night and whom he could not disappoint. The Bogota-born footballer never imagined that his success in the Campín stadium in Bogotá, where he played every 15 days, would depend, to a large extent, on his ability to perfectly fulfill these two tasks.

Despite the tension and anxiety inherent in playing in a final, the atmosphere in which the squad of players arrived in Bogotá on July 29, 2001, was overflowing with optimism. Miguel Calero continued to be the standard-bearer of joy in the locker room, and two decades later, his roommate, Iván López, revealed that he had been the one in charge of getting him the jokes for his repertoire. “They were good, average, perverse, but he made them good and gave joy and energy to the team. He called friends, wrote them down and at night he gave them to Miguel so he could prepare them,” he recalls.

López, who had been carrying out the task of lifting crosses from the side since the first training session, had been instructed to do so in the final, where he had found a place in the starting lineup due to Jersson González’s injury. But Totono Grisales, perhaps because he had greater leadership than the Bogotá defender, took control of all the shots.

Ivan Lopez’s cross for Ivan Ramiro Cordoba’s goal:

Pacho couldn’t take it. “I gave Totono a little push and he got angry. I told Iván he was a coward,” Maturana remembers. López lifted the cross and the Colombian captain, Iván Ramiro Córdoba, headed it over the goalkeeper Óscar ‘Conejo’ Pérez, until then the star of the game. “I took a deep breath and said we’ve done it,” says Iván, remembering that he ran to the bench and hugged Maturana very tightly. The coach had insisted that the final could be won with a set piece, and he was convinced, given the defensive security of the team, that a goal would be enough to be crowned champion.

After that title, Iván López, who once had offers from Bayern Munich in Germany, played for Millonarios, América, Deportivo Azogues in Ecuador, and retired in 2009, when he was barely 32 years old, wearing the Bucaramanga shirt in the Primera B, and after enduring several back injuries that prevented him from continuing his career.

Three years later, on December 4, 2012, he received one of the worst news of his life: the death of the man who had been his roommate at that Copa América. “I was in Cali, I felt a deep sadness, an emptiness in my chest and all the memories we shared came to mind, which made my eyes water for the human being he was and continues to be in the hearts of those of us who were fortunate enough to share with him.“, says, moved, Iván López, the Bogotá footballer who wore the Santa Fe and Millonarios shirts and reached the top in football. Or has anyone else won a title with the national team?

See here the complete statements of Ivan Lopez about Rafael Santos Borre:

Watch the full program of ‘Vicky en SEMANA’ talking about Colombia vs Panama for Copa América 2024:


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