"It's like I was born loving soccer. If I saw a ball, I wanted to kick it. My dad told me that when I was young, all I said was, 'goal, goal!'"
That's how Alexander Callens describes his footballing beginnings growing up in Callao, Peru. It's safe to say that he's come a long way since then. Now a full Peruvian international, NYCFC is Callens' fourth club across three continents.
Callens began his career in his hometown with Sport Boys Association de Callao, also known affectionately as Los Rosados. After spending years in their youth ranks, Callens made his senior debut with his hometown club on April 18, 2010 at the age of 17.
Callao was founded by Spanish colonists in 1537, quickly becoming an important port city. These days, it's home to just about one million people, the National University of Callao, as well as two professional footballing teams: Sport Boys and Atletico Chalaco. Residents of Callao are called chalacos.
Callens isn't the only Peruvian footballer to come out of Callao. Claudio Pizarro, nicknamed the "Andean Bomber" by none other than Gerd Muller, hails from the city. Pizarro, now of Werder Bremen, has made over 200 appearances for Bayern Munich and scored 199 Bundesliga goals.
Allianza Lima and Universitario are the biggest clubs in Peruvian football, winning 22 and 26 domestic league titles, respectively. Both have represented Peru in the Copa Libertadores on multiple occasions, with Allianza making 24 appearances.
Peru's national team is doing really well right now! They're currently ranked 15th in the world by FIFA. Across their history, Peru has competed in 29 Copa Americas and four World Cups. They even made an appearance at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2000 as a guest nation!
Join Alexaner Callens and the rest of the squad on Saturday, September 9th at Yankee Stadium as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Get your tickets below.