Carlos Cuéllar Jiménez was born in Madrid on 23rd of August 1981. He was raised along with his sisters in Tetuán, in a neighbourhood called La Ventilla. He always liked sports, but as a kid beyond play football at the school’s playground in La Ventilla, Athletics was the one he loved. Cuellar started when he was very young and soon he stood out ahead of the rest so he joint the Sprint Barrio del Pilar’s athletics team where he proved that despite his height he was fast. His gymnastic trainer was who helped him to improve to beat his marks. He won a few trophies although from time to time he used to show his aptitude doing some quality dribblings playing football with his friends on the streets.
One day, helped by his dad, Cuellar tried to get a place in the Tetuan Ventilla’s football team. Because of his good “runner’s” shape, he played on the touchline with a non-stop up and down running in the different pitches of Av Asturias, Chorrillo and Ganapanes.
Before most persistent manager Ángel Torres started his career with the AVFC defender, Cuellar played for Argibay, a team sponsorship by a well-known Bar in the area. He played with other boys from the neighbourhood, he did play as a left-back or left midfielder so many times, but those positions were left them for others over the years.
Then he played for Santa Ana cadet’s team where he went through some difficult moments as one of the management members criticised him saying maybe he was not good enough for football, that matter did not discourage Cuellar and along with Angel Torres’s trust swooped for Pegaso Nacional after passing a satisfactory trial. He stayed a year with Pegaso’s side; until a match at the end of the season when the manager and the president of San Federico went to see him (Cuellar) and team-mate Pizarro due to an interest for both players. Cuellar was loaned to San Federico for a year.
At the club, though he played as a centre-back and left-back, scored 7 goals thanks to his skills as a header. Atletico de Madrid, a team that Cuellar faced before during the Division de Honor League, selected him to play a Tournament at the end of the season in Italy, the Antonio Dossena’s Trophy. He played an outstanding performance that elected him as the Best Defender of the Tournament.
Atletico de Madrid made him an offer to play in the Third Division, so they were building a strong side for the category. Then Numancia in an unexpected move made him a serious offer securing him a training camp with the first team which was playing La Liga. He did not hesitate, but after just a week in the team, the manager Paco Herrera told him he would not play much in the team and the best for him was to leave on loan to the Second Division B to have more minutes and become more experienced.
He left for Calahorra at the age of 18, the same year the team completed the best season of their history.The team got into the play-offs for promotion to the Second Division A, but all the hope was gone after the last game of the play-offs. The riojanos recall that after the 0-1, the dirty game, some referee mistakes and a late goal by Jose Ortiz let them out of promotion zone. Curiously, Carlos played in the Segunda Division A, in 2001 a year after his loan, when he returned to the club (Numancia).
Right away, he got his place in the category, playing 62 games and hitting the net four times, he played two years at Soria’s side, which let him to improve as a centre-back and gain minutes in this competitive category. So many that before the end of the league and before his contract was over with Numancia, Leeds offered him a trial, but when all parts reached an agreement, the English team got a deal with AC Milan in which they got Roque Junior on loan.
It seemed Cuellar was down on luck, but the truth is he was lucky when a few days after, Osasuna signed him up, and it was there where he showed his talent in La Liga.
Thanks to Javier Aguirre, a manager he compared his training sessions so many times to Angel Torres one’s. He grew stronger becoming regular in the defence. The team played the 2005 Copa Del Rey’s Final and secured the fourth place in the table, giving them the chance of playing the previous Champions League round the next year. In that game against Hamburg, Cuellar scored the “rojillo” goal, but was not enough and a draw in the second leg left them playing the UEFA.
What looked like a punishment at the beginning, ended in a historic achievement reaching the semi-finals (UEFA), beating the club’s best run in a European competition, after Cuellar’s header against Bayer Leverkusen put them on the right track in the first leg at Bay Arena.
Although he could not lift the European trophy, his aptitudes caught Glasgow Ranger’s eye after the round before the quarter-final. Aguirre wanted him for Atletico but Ranges finally sealed a deal of 3.5 € millions for Cuellar. He left Pamplona in 2006 and in just a year time, he became a legend to the Rangers supporters.
Cuellar was named Scottish Premier League’s player of the year and the same prize from all specialized press that for the fist time in 80 years, awarded a centre-back.The same year, the team won the Scottish Cup and the SPL title before they reached the UEFA final against St Peterborough’s Zenit. Cuellar beats his own marks playing 63 games and scoring five goals.
There was no cherry on the cake at the end of his dream season which ended in a transfer to Aston Villa. The Villans closed the deal of €10 million in the summer of 2008 and Cuellar becomes a regular in Martin O’Neill’s defense.
In his first season in the Premier league, he played 33 matches and turned out to be one of the supporters´ favourites.
Villa Park started to know him as “King Carlos” and Cuéllar contributes, to Villa´s success, playing both as a centre back and a right back. In his first year the team nearly qualified for the Champions League and in his second season Carlos played in the Carling Cup final at Wembley against Manchester Utd. That same year his name was put forward for the Spanish National Team and Vicente del Bosque points him out as one of the player’s to carefully follow. Again the team drops out of the Champion´s league places but qualifying for the Europe League.
At the beginning of the 2010/11 season Martin O´neill leaves the club which started to go downhill until the arrival of Houllier. Due to many injuries in the team, Carlos has to play, with a slight pain in his knee, showing his commitment to the club. Unfortunately later on in the season he got seriously injured and had to have an operation in April 2011. After months of hard work and recovering from the injury, he plays again and Alex Mcleish uses him as a full-back.
On the 2nd of July after failing to reach an agreement to renew his contract with Villa, Carlos Cuéllar signs a two year deal with Sunderland where he will be again under Martin O’Neill’s orders.
The life of a footballer is marked by their numbers. Here's a collection of statistics in the teams I've played.
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