MLSsoccer.com presents the Top 5 moments in the career of 26 year-old Mexican national team member Nery Castillo, who was announced Saturday as the Chicago Fire's newest Designated Player:
1. Copa América Goal vs. Brazil: In the 2007 Copa América, Castillo was the star and revelation of the Mexican National Team, who advanced to the tournament semifinals with Hugo Sánchez at the helm.
In Castillo’s opener against Brazil, he used a sublime and unforgettable "sombrero" on Maicon before beating the ‘keeper to the ball and finishing with a deft touch. It was the first of four goals for Castillo in the tournament, which served as the final seal on a record transfer later that summer.
2. Champions League Goals vs. Shakhtar: Castillo has played in 14 Champions League matches in his career with Greek club Olympiakos and Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk. There were no more important goals than the two he scored in separate group-stage games for Olympiakos on Sept. 27, 2006 and Dec. 5, 2006 against Shakhtar in the 2006-07 Champions League. Those performances, including a goal scored on a hand ball, piqued the interest of Shakhtar and the team’s president eventually made Castillo a record transfer.
3. Transfer to Shakhtar Donetsk: Shortly after the conclusion of the 2007 Copa América, Shakhtar Donetsk splurged on a record $27.5 million transfer fee to sign the player who helped put a dent in their Champions League dreams a season before with Olympiakos. Castillo, who signed a five-year contract, carried the weight of being the most expensive player on the squad.
4. Mexican National Team Debut: After lengthy debates, discussions and controversy as to which national team he would represent among the four options available to him (Mexico, Uruguay, Greece and Italy), Castillo opted for Sánchez and Mexico.
With a chance to feature on the stage of the 2007 Copa América, Castillo made his debut for El Tri on June 2, 2007 against Iran in the Mexican city in which he was born: San Luis Potosí. Only a few weeks later he was the undisputed star of Mexican soccer and the most expensive player in Mexican soccer history.
5. Professional Debut In Uruguay: Castillo, who was born in Mexico, moved back to Montevideo, Uruguay, with his family at the age of 2. He developed his game as a member of the Danubio youth system and the precocious talent made his professional debut in 1999 at the age of 15. Only one year later, he was already in Europe.