- Walter Ormeno’s grandson having a very good 2020
- Player’s allegiances split between Mexico and Peru
- “Playing at a World Cup is a goal and dream”
Not many players have had as positive a 2020 as Santiago Ormeno. In a year sadly marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Puebla striker has turned adversity into opportunity.
It really was a case of now or never when he lost his grandfather, the legendary Peruvian goalkeeper Walter Ormeno, in January. Already 25, Santiago was struggling to establish himself in Mexican football and had to be content with occasional Copa MX fixtures.
“The thought of calling it quits and walking away went through my head a few times. But with the support of my family and a mindset that wouldn’t allow me to give up, I persevered. Finally, after waiting so long, things started to happen,” a contented Ormeno told FIFA.com.
It was in March that everything started to change. When Mexico halted the national championship and introduced measures to control the spread of COVID-19, LIGA MX decided to stage a FIFA 20 tournament. Each club had to nominate one of their on-field players for the virtual competition, and Puebla chose Ormeno.
A combination of charisma and some impressive results on the console made the striker a big hit with the fans. And when the on-field action resumed in late July, the player was given an opportunity to deliver on the pitch, which he duly did, scoring four goals in seven games.
Possessing physical strength, good movement in the box and accurate medium-range shooting, Oremeno has shown himself to be a versatile centre-forward with a cool head in front of goal.
“I never imagined it would happen quite like this. However, I always saw myself as a winner and believed I could achieve my dreams, this despite many people saying that I’d missed the boat and that I’d struggle to get playing time and establish myself. The way it happened was very unusual in unique circumstances, but I’m really enjoying it because of how hard it’s been to get here.”
Grandfather key to his development
Although his grandfather was a prominent goalkeeper, Walter resisted the temptation to steer his grandson in the same direction. “Almost everything I know I learned from my grandad. He was the person, along with my parents, who encouraged me to follow my dream of being a footballer and to work for it. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to see me achieve this, but I know he’s happy wherever he is.”
“I played football from a young age, and he recognised that I had what it takes to be a professional. I had good feet and he knew I could be a striker or playmaker. He worked my weaker foot and groomed me to be the player I am today.”
For the 26-year-old, the logical next step would be to play international football. However, for Ormeno, it is a case of two competing loyalties: Mexico and Peru. “I was born in Mexico and have made my life here. On the other hand, Peru is where my family come from and is somewhere I also have great affection for. I strongly associate it with my grandfather, who is my idol.”
“I’ve not been approached by either national association. I’ve heard some things from people, but there’s been nothing formal. I’m relaxed about it, however. I don’t want to get too excited or get carried away with the possibility.”
What is undeniable, though, is his dream of playing at a FIFA World Cup™. “Everything’s happened very fast. If you’d asked me three months ago, I’d have said that playing international football was beyond me. But I keep working every day to maintain my level and let things happen by themselves. That said, playing at a World Cup is a goal and a dream of mine.”
And so it appears that another chapter in the footballing history of the Ormeno family is about to be written. Looking down on his grandson with a smile is Walter, who, while no longer able to advise his grandson, can at least enjoy his long-awaited scoring spree – just like his many fans at Puebla.