Overcoming personal tragedies, Stiven Mendoza earns Colombia call-up

Former Chennaiyin FC star and Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2015 Golden Boot winner Stiven Mendoza has been named in Colombia's senior squad by national team manager Carlos Queiroz for their upcoming international friendlies against Peru and Ecuador. The call-up represents a semblance of solace for the 27-year-old, who has endured a tumultuous year on the personal front.

To recall, Mendoza was part of the Chennaiyin squad for the inaugural Hero ISL in 2014 and caught everyone's eyes with some stunning displays which saw him score four times in nine matches in what was largely an injury-ravaged season for the forward. The spark was, however, enough to earn him a move to Brazilian giants Corinthians and he won the Brazilian league with the side in his very first season there. He returned to Chennaiyin on loan for the 2015 campaign and played a telling role in the Tamil Nadu-based side's first Hero ISL title win, scoring 13 goals in 16 outings and bagging the coveted Golden Boot in the process.

The fleet-footed striker then moved on and had stints with US-based side New York City in the MLS and Brazilian club Bahia before moving to Ligue 1 side Amiens SC in January 2018. The Colombian had a tough start to life at Stade de la Licorne, managing just four goals in his first 41 matches for the club.

His on-field issues just compounded off the field, after the 27-year-old was reportedly robbed at gunpoint in Medellin, Colombia, back in August 2019. A month later, Mendoza tragically lost his brother Yeison, who was also a footballer by profession, after the 25-year-old was reportedly murdered in Cali.

Having had to go through profound personal grief, the striker bounced back on the field and has scored for Amiens four times already in just six outings this season in the Ligue 1.

His performances didn't go unnoticed by the national team manager Queiroz, who drafted the nippy forward into his 23-man squad for the upcoming international friendlies against Peru on November 15 and Ecuador on November 20. Other prominent members of the squad are Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina, Atletico de Madrid defender Santiago Arias, Juventus winger Juan Cuadrado and Real Madrid forward James Rodriguez.

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