“Atlético Bucaramanga was my last chance”: Juan Marcelín, local soccer promise


At Club Deportivo Galán in Barrancabermeja, a nine-year-old boy with a notorious talent for soccer began to ‘kick the ball’. ‘Marcelín’ grew up watching his father play, Gabriel Marcelín Ballesteros, the first who taught him what he knows about the ‘freckled’.

“He was the one who taught me the first steps in football, my dad has always worked in the sport. He trains with children, so from a very young age he trained me. Later I continued learning in the clubs I went through, there I They ‘polished’ soccer-wise”, comments that boy, who today already has 21 laps in the sun.

The path in the sport was never easy for him. From a very young age, like any athlete, he had to separate himself from his family to go after his dreams.

At the age of 15, the first opportunity came after a ‘talent scout’ saw him in a match in Barrancabermeja where he played with Club Deportivo Galán against ‘Iguanitas’, one of the affiliates of La Equidad in the ‘beautiful daughter of the sun’ .

He packed his shoes, clothing and illusions, and left for Bogotá to train with the “insurer” club.

“I was practically alone for almost five years in Bogotá, while I was training with Equidad. There I learned a lot, I had the opportunity to train with the professional team on several occasions. Unfortunately, however, I was never able to debut in the league with that shirt,” says ‘Marcelín ‘.

Despite this, the man from Santander was on the court wearing the colors of the ‘insurer’ in the 2018 Copa Libertadores Sub 20, a tournament that said team was part of after winning the 2017 Youth Super Cup organized by the FCF (a tournament that was also Marcelin played).

After living in the capital, he returned to his homeland to knock on Alianza Petrolera’s door.

“I was not given the opportunity in Barranca, so I decided to move again and try at Atlético Bucaramanga’s youth team. In January 2021 I joined the Under 20 team, thanks to the ‘five 2000’ rule, it was my last chance. I had already said that if I didn’t get it on this team, I would choose to start studying and get away from football as a player,” he says.

In the ‘leopard’ he started as a left back, despite the fact that he always played as a winger. On July 28, 2021, he finally debuted as a professional soccer player in the Bucaramanga vs. Envigado match for Copa Betplay.

67 minutes were enough to show that he had ‘quality’.

The door that opened that Wednesday gave him the opportunity to play later, on October 30 of the same year in the highest competition of Colombian football, against the same rival with a dream debut: he scored the winning goal in the 26 minutes that the ‘teacher’ Néstor Craviotto gave him to show what he was made of.

“That day I felt very good. When I scored my first goal in the league as a professional, the first thing I thought of was my family, thanks to their support and patience I am who I am,” he adds with remnants of the euphoria he felt that day.

Since that game, he has been moved to his natural position: winger, and he already has four goals in the league, one in the cup and more than three assists that ended in jubilation.

He scored the fastest goal of his career against one of Colombia’s toughest rivals, Atlético Nacional, after spending just four minutes on the pitch.

Now he has become the ‘undisputed starter’ for the fans, and despite the change in coach, he has been able to win the trust of the new helmsman ‘Leopardo’, who has him as ‘ace up his sleeve’, when things don’t look right well in team games.

“I want to continue working with humility, contributing to the group, which is the most important thing, and continue to improve, working harder every day to continue bringing joy to the fans who always support us. I’m very happy to be here,” replied the player.

A promising career looms at Marcelín’s feet. His dream, in addition to raising the first ‘leopard’ trophy, is to reach the ranks of Barcelona in Spain.

This Santanderean trained on the fields of Barrancabermeja, has been able to win the hearts of the ‘auriverdes’ followers with his talent and dedication.