Juan Camilo Zuniga


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1985 (32 years old)

Birth Place
Chigorodó, Colombia


1.72 m /


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_Retired Soccer

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Juan Camilo Zúñiga Mosquera (Spanish pronunciation: , born 14 December 1985) is a Colombian footballer who plays as a fullback for English club Watford on loan from Italian club Napoli and the Colombian national team. Born in Chigorodó, Antioquia, Zúñiga made his professional debut with Colombian giant Atlético Nacional. With Nacional, he gained three titles while being at the club for seven seasons. In total, he made 129 league appearances and scored 9 goals.
Zúñiga played for Colombia in the 2005 World Youth Cup before progressing to the senior national team in 2005. He was regarded as being similar to other famous adventurous full-backs such as Cafu and Roberto Carlos by the Italian press during the under-20 World Youth Cup, because of his attacking nature.

Zúñiga started most of Colombia 2014 World Cup qualifiers, only missing two games: against Venezuela after being given permission to leave the team for the birth of his son, and against Peru due to injury.

He was called up for the 2014 World Cup and appeared in four of the five matches that Colombia played in the tournament. On 4 July 2014, while Colombia's quarter-final match against hosts Brazil was nearing its end, Zúñiga landed his right knee in Neymar's lower back while challenging for the ball. Neymar was stretchered off and further examinations showed that Neymar suffered a fractured third lumbar vertebra, ruling him out of the rest of the World Cup. After the match, which Colombia lost 2-1, Zúñiga insisted that he had not meant to injure Neymar. Neymar's teammate Thiago Silva defended Zúñiga, stating that he is not the type of player who would purposely cause an injury to any player. Conversely, Brazilian legend Ronaldo said that he believes the very violent challenge was a foul with the intention to cause harm. The day after the match, it was revealed that Zúñiga had sent a letter of apology to Neymar, saying that he was "deeply sorry and sad" for unintentionally causing the injury. Neymar later accepted the apology. Though Zuñiga publicly apologized to Neymar, his Instagram and Twitter accounts were flooded with racial insults and death threats to him and his family by some Brazilian fans.

Despite disputed sentiment and false slander, a year later at Copa America 2015 Juan Camilo Zúñiga would participate against Brazil in the second group match which an on-pitch brawl broke out following Colombia's 1–0 win over Brazil; Brazilian captain at the time Neymar deliberately kicked the ball at opponent Pablo Armero and attempted to headbutt Colombian matchwinner Jeison Murillo, earning a red card. As a result, Colombian forward Carlos Bacca retaliated by pushing Neymar over, and was himself sent off. CONMEBOL fined Neymar $10,000 and suspended him for four matches, ruling him out for the remainder of the tournament, while Bacca was suspended for two matches. Although Juan Camilo Zúñiga was nowhere involved in the incident it draw an exonerating parallel based on the professionalism between both athletes.

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