From start to finish, 2018 was a year not short on personal milestones for Chicago Fire midfielder Diego Campos.
Starting with a selection in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft in January, Campos signed his first professional contract in February, made his MLS debut in March, scored his first professional goal in May, and became a regular for head coach Veljko Paunović as the season progressed.
Now, as announced on Friday, Campos has been rewarded with a new contract for his efforts. Campos appeared 23 times in all in 2017, starting in 13 of those matches and contributing a goal and two assists in MLS play.
“The support that the coaching staff gave through the whole year was amazing,” Campos said. “I was very happy to renew my contract. The main thing for me is the opportunity and the chance, the trust, the confidence that the coaches and the front office have given me to be with the team one more year.”
The new contract represents the latest step along the path that Campos has envisioned for himself since he left Costa Rica as a 15-year-old and moved to the United States to chase his dream of playing at the highest level.
“Being in the pros was always on my mind,” Campos said. “I remember telling my mom I was going to be a professional soccer player no matter how long it was going to take me, I was just going to work hard to get it. Chicago gave me a chance, and I’m very grateful for that.”
With time to reflect on his personal progress from his offseason base in Costa Rica, the sacrifices the 23-year-old’s family made to help further a young Diego’s professional ambitions remain top-of-mind. From a dedication to his training sessions as a kid, to his move to Florida, Campos knows the new contract and the successes he’s enjoyed early in his professional career are shared.
“Ever since I started playing, they were the ones taking me to games and practices every single day,” he said. “My dad, sometimes he wouldn’t even work just to take me to practice, to take me to games. It was a very special moment for them when I got to sign my contract. I’m very happy that they get to see me play, because they did a lot of work as well. If it wasn’t for them, there’s no chance I would have made it.”
With the new contract now in tow, the hard work has begun again for Campos ahead of his sophomore season in 2019.
“It’s going to be even harder than my rookie year,” he said. “I don’t have that title of ‘rookie’ anymore, so I think it will be more challenging. That’s why I’m putting in the work during the offseason. Of course it’s a great time to be with family and friends, but I’m taking this time very seriously to get better, to improve my strength and my fitness overall.”
For as much as the last calendar year brought Campos from a personal standpoint, bigger goals still remain ahead for him and his teammates in the next 365 days.
“I want to win trophies with the team,” he said. “I want to win trophies for the city. I think Chicago deserves a trophy. I think the fans deserve a trophy. We’re working very hard for it. We’re going to do everything we can to give the city and the fans a trophy they deserve.”