Joel Campbell is Costa Rica’s star striker. After his performance in his team’s opening game against Uruguay, the hopes of a nation rest on his young shoulders. Costa Rica was considered to have no chance of advancing to the last 16 but after his performance against Uruguay, that could all change.
Here’s what you need to know about one of the most unlikely stars of the World Cup:
1. He Could Be Playing For Milan Next Season
Media reports on the day of his game with Italy indicated that Milan of Serie A are interested in taking Campbell on loan. He’s under contract with Arsenal since 2011 but hasn’t played a game yet for the team. He’s spent the last three years on loan at Lorient in France, Real Betis in Spain and Olympiakos in Greece.
2. Campbell Hasn’t Played a Game For His Contracted Team
Happy to have received my work permit in England… Still waiting for the best
— Joel Campbell (@joel_campbell12) July 15, 2013
He struggled to get a work permit when he moved to England from Deportivo Saprissa in his native Costa Rica. Campbell never made much of an impact with Saprissa’s first team, he was scouted by Arsenal and signed for them in August 2011. After his contract signing, it was announced that due to his lack of appearances for Costa Rica, he couldn’t get a Visa. This resulted in his numerous loan deals.
3. He Recites a Psalm Before Each Game
Campbell is a devout Christian. In an interview he stated that his first pillar in life was his family (he has two sisters and one brother), his second was religion. Before every game, he recites Psalm 27, a passage that reads:
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the graciousness of the Lord, and to visit early in His temple.
4. His Girlfriend Has Moved Everywhere With Him
His girlfriend is Maria Fernanda Cascante. She’s also a native of Costa Rica and moved with him during his nomadic loan moves. His coach at Olympiakos, Michel, told The Guardian about how fortunate it was that Campbell had his girlfriend with him:
He is fortunate to have a partner [his girlfriend] that helps in that regard. He is a player known not only for his athletic achievements, but for his ability to interact with his peers.
5. Prior to the World Cup, His Most Famous Action for Costa Rica Was a Dive
His record before playing Italy in the World Cup was 34 appearances and ten goals. This all comes at the age of just 21. The most notable moment of his international career however was for a flop in a game with the U.S. in September 2013. Campbell feigned being hit by Matt Besler and hit the ground. The U.S. defender was given a yellow card for his actions and was suspended for his team’s next game. The Kansas City Star, Besler’s hometown newspaper, labelled Campbell’s actions as “pathetic” and “disgraceful.”