Colombian native Juan Cuadrado, 26, has quickly become one of the great stars of the soccer world. He made a name for himself during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, as one of the Colombian national team’s stunning midfielders.
His performance even earned him a spot in Chelsea FC and a chance for glory in the English Premier League.
Here’s what you need to know about Cuadrado:
1. He Just Transferred to Chelsea FC for £27m
Cuadrado joined Chelsea FC on the Premier League’s transfer deadline day (Feb. 2) in a dramatic move by club manager Jose Mourinho. Purchased from Italy’s Fiorentina for £27m, Cuadrado signed on for a four-and-a-half year contract, according to the official announcement on the Chelsea FC website.
The player said in the official announcement: “I am very happy and thankful for this opportunity I’ve been given. This is a great club and honestly it is like a dream to join the Chelsea family and to know that the manager believes in me. I’m happy.”
Cuadrado made his debut with the club nine days later in a regular season match against Everton, in a performance that Daily Mail said “lived up to his billing.” He won his first professional championship with Chelsea this year, coming off the bench to defeat Tottenham 2-0 in the Football League Cup final.
Before his transfer to the Premier League – a massive step for any soccer player – spent five-and-a-half years playing in the Italian Serie A for teams such as Udinese, Fiorentina, and Lecce.
2. He Dates Melissa Botero
Cuadrado is currently dating Melissa Botero. She makes appearances on his Instagram every so often. Here is a picture of the couple at the beach:
Back in February, days after his debut with Chelsea, Cuadrado was the subject of a mini-scandal. Although Metro UK reported that Cuadrado had hired Playboy model Carla Howe to teach him English after his transfer to England, the player debunked the rumors on Twitter:
3. His Professional Debut Was With Independiente Medellin
Brief stints in the minor leagues of Colombian soccer at clubs such as Atletico Uraba and Rionegro were enough to catch the attention of Independiente Medellin, an elite Division A team. Cuadrado made his professional debut with Medellin in 2008. He played a single season with Medellin before transferring to Udinese in 2009.
4. He Started a Foundation in Colombia
As Cuadrado has climbed up the ladder of soccer superstardom, he has also proven to be very charitable when it comes to his homeland. In 2013, he founded Fundacion Juan Cuadrado for betterment of the city of Medellin, specifically impoverished sections of the city such as the La Sierra shantytown.
Cuadrado’s foundation has organized soccer programs and vocational programs for the youth of La Sierra. The star also sends the youngsters video messages, reminding them to dream big:
5. Cuadrado Really Likes to Dance
Although Cuadrado will always be best known for his skills on the pitch, his dance moves are not to be forgotten. Throughout his career, at the club and international stages, Cuadrado has developed a signature celebration that his fans revel in.
It’s a dance called the “Ras Tas Tas,” a hybrid of classic salsa steps and hip hop swagger, and it’s native to Colombia, taking the dance halls by storm. After performing the dance with his teammates at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, even the French team gave the dance a try.
Here’s a video of Cuadrado getting down during the welcome back parade for the Colombian national team after their stellar performance in the World Cup: