Julio Villalba made his competitive debut for the Fohlenelf at the weekend. The forward from Paraguay is Borussia’s eleventh South American player to compete in the Bundesliga.
Despite the bitter 1-0 loss, Julio Villalba will surely remember the recent Bundesliga match against Eintracht Frankfurt. The young Paraguayan, who turns 19 on Sunday (17th September), played his first German top flight game for the Fohlenelf. He is the second-youngest foreign player to play in the Bundesliga for Borussia, after Andriy Voronin. “It was a big moment for me to play on such a big stage,” said Villalba. He called home from the dressing room as soon as the game was over to tell his family all about it. “They were following the match in Paraguay on TV and of course they were very proud,” he added.
The forward is the eleventh South American to take to the pitch for Borussia. The majority of these players came from Brazil (seven): before Raffael, who still plays for Gladbach, there was Chiquinho, Marcelo Pletsch, Giovane Elber, Kahé, Dante and Bamba Anderson. Igor de Camargo is officially Belgian and therefore doesn’t count. The same goes for Robert Colautti, who is actually Argentinean but officially plays as an Israeli. Federico Insua is the only official Argentinean to have played for Gladbach. Raúl Bobadilla, who was also born and raised in Argentina, plays for the Paraguay national team and is therefore Villalba’s countryman. Finally, Juan Arango is the only Venezuelan to have donned a Gladbach jersey.
Bobadilla a big help
While Arango only moved to Germany towards the end of his career, Villalba has made the jump at the start of his. The move to Germany was a big step for the 18-year-old. “The first two months weren’t easy for me, but I’m slowly getting used to everything,” says Villalba, who can always be seen at the side of Raúl Bobadilla. “I was so excited when I heard that he was coming back to Borussia. Raúl is a big help for me in these first few weeks,” says the young forward, who unfortunately hasn’t been able to get any match practice with the U23s.
The DFB’s rules for the third division and regional leagues state that the Employment Act (BeschV) regulates the fielding of foreign players in these leagues. According to this act, only citizens of the EU and nine other countries can be fielded in the West regional league, in which the Borussia U23s play; Paraguay does not appear on this list. “It’s a shame for Julio, but we can’t do anything about it. We’re endeavouring to play more and more friendlies because of this,” says Borussia coach Dieter Hecking. Villalba will have his next opportunity to show his ability on Tuesday afternoon in a private friendly game against Venlo. He says: “My goal is to be in the starting line-up in a competitive match; I’m working very hard towards that.”