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09 June, 2006

MENDEZ Edison from Ecuador.A natural leader, he possesses a priceless ability to direct and show his team-mates the way forward even on the darkest of days.

Name:  MENDEZ Edison

Date of birth:  16 March 1979

Height:  175 cm

Weight:  68 kg

Position:  Midfielder

Current Club:  LDU Quito (ECU)

Int'l Goals:   10 (as of 5-Jun-2006)

Int'l Caps:  64 (as of 5-Jun-2006)

First Int'l Cap:  Ecuador v. Honduras ( 8-Mar-2000)

Detail:  From an early age, Edison Mendez stood out on the field of play. A natural leader, he possesses a priceless ability to direct and show his team-mates the way forward even on the darkest of days.

Mendez was born in El Juncal, a village in the Valle del Chota, on 16 March 1979. It was here, in one of Ecuador’s least developed regions, that he took his first tentative steps in the world of football, learning his trade on the same dirt pitches that fellow international Agustin Delgado had graced before embarking on his own road to fame five years earlier.

Although his childhood dream was to become a goalkeeper of national repute, it was as a midfielder that Mendez made his mark in Deportivo Quito’s junior teams. Over the years, he has developed further, gaining an impressive competitive streak and the ability to shuttle from box to box throughout the 90 minutes. Adept also at picking out a team-mate with a first-time pass, Edison is usually found out on the left wing although, such is his versatility, that he is now also considered one of the best finishers in South American football.

Mendez began his club career in 1995 with Deportivo Quito, enjoying seven impressive seasons there before El Nacional acquired his services in 2003. The following year, he headed north to Mexico to play for Santos Laguna in the Apertura championship and Irapuato in the Clausura. He joined his current club, LDU Quito, in 2005 and immediately helped them to the Apertura championship.

His first major youth tournament with Ecuador was the South American U-20 Championship in Paraguay in 1999, although his real breakthrough on the international scene came in January 2000 when he played in every one of the U-23 side’s games at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Brazil. In March that same year, coach Hernan Dario Gomez promoted him to the full squad, handing him his debut in a 3-1 defeat against Honduras in Quito.

Mendez was called up for his first FIFA World Cup qualifier in August 2000 only for Gomez to leave him on the substitutes’ bench. Three months later, however, El Bolillo named him in his starting line-up against Venezuela in Maracaibo. Ecuador won that qualifier 3-1 and Mendez has been a fixture in the national set-up ever since.

In 2001 he was the driving force behind Ecuador’s historic Korea/Japan 2002 qualification success. Although the Tricolor failed to advance beyond the group phase, Mendez played the full 90 minutes of all three games and also scored the only goal in their victory over Croatia, the country’s first win at a FIFA World Cup.

As expected, Mendez remained a figure throughout the qualifiers for Germany 2006, even after Luis Fernando Suarez had replaced Gomez as Ecuador coach. As well as appearing in 15 of their 18 games, he found the net five times, with the pick of his goals helping secure only the second victory over Brazil in Ecuador’s history. To cap it all, his sterling performances in qualifying earned him a place in CONMEBOL’s all-star XI.

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