US star sets aside Colombia ties for Copa opener

Santa Clara (United States) (AFP) – Born in the United States to Colombian parents, Alejandro Bedoya says one of his earliest childhood memories was cheering for the South Americans while wearing a Carlos Valderrama wig during the 1994 World Cup. 

On Friday however there will be no question of divided loyalties when Bedoya pulls on an American jersey to line up against the country of his parents’ birth in the opening game of the Copa America Centenario. 

In fact, the 29-year-old midfielder, who plays for French side Nantes, revealed that his extended family will all be cheering for the hosts. 

“I just got off the phone with my mum,” Bedoya told reporters on Thursday.

“Everybody says they’re rooting for me. Obviously every other game they’re rooting for Colombia. But this is a one-off.” 

Bedoya is the latest in a long line of professional footballers his family has produced. His father, Adriano, played for Colombian side Millonarios while grandfather, Fabio, played for Deportes Quindio. 

Both Bedoya’s father and grandfather followed Colombia around the United States during their ill-fated 1994 World Cup campaign, when they arrived with high hopes only to be knocked out in the group stage. 

“I was seven years old. I vividly remember my dad buying tickets for himself and my grandfather,” Bedoya recalled. 

“I was back at home with the Valderrama wig on watching in front of the television. Those are my most vivid memories of being a Colombian supporter.” 

Bedoya however is firmly in the US corner now, and is eyeing another upset against a talented Colombian team in Friday’s Group A opener in Santa Clara. 

Bedoya said the US will draw confidence from a narrow 2-1 defeat to Colombia in a friendly at Fulham’s Craven Cottage in 2014. 

“They have some very good players up front,” he said. “I was part of the game in London when we played them. We created some good chances and could have finished them off. We want to show that we are capable of playing against the best.”

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