Meet Forward Madison FC’s No. 27: Christian ‘Pato’ Diaz
Diaz started playing more than 20 years ago
In 2019, the city welcomed its first professional soccer team, Forward Madison FC. Christian “Pato” Díaz, one of the team’s defenders, started playing soccer in Guadalajara more than 20 years ago. At age 15, after six years in California, he left everything he knew to pursue a career in soccer. He’s played for Futbol Club Atlas, a top-division, historic league in Guadalajara, whose fans are known as “La Fiel,” or “the faithful.” He worked under renowned coach Ricardo La Volpe and today, at age 28, hopes to help other young professional soccer players develop their careers through his own soccer academy. Forward Madison FC played its inaugural home game on April 27 at Breese Stevens Field.
Here is an edited Q&A with Díaz.
How does it feel to be on the inaugural roster of Madison’s first professional soccer team?
I’m excited because it’s also my first time playing here in the U.S., which is something I’ve really hoped to do. It’s a family team and a beautiful team in a beautiful city. The group we have and the team that the coach [Daryl Shore] is building is looking great.
What’s something people might not know about you?
I’m not just playing soccer, I’m also a coach. Before I came here to Madison, I had my own youth academy back in California [within the Antelope Valley Futbol Club]. I want to give kids the same opportunities that I had. Also, I help the kids a lot with their personality, their character and how to be a better person. Being a young professional soccer player, you go through a lot of things. When I started, I didn’t know a lot of those things. With the academy, I’m trying to build good people who care about the community. Now that I’m playing I don’t have as much time, but I have my brother-in-law helping right now. I’m always sending him the drills, sessions, practices and what to tell the kids.
How did you get your nickname?
My nickname, Pato, is from my parents. My mom and my dad say that when I was a baby I used to cry like a duck [“pato” means “duck” in Spanish]. I don’t know how a duck cries, but that is how my nickname got started. When I would cry they’d say, “Pato, pato, pato.” My family just started calling me Pato. A lot of my family members have animal nicknames – I have a cousin called “Pollo” [chicken], and another cousin is called “Iguana.”
What is your most memorable moment playing soccer?
The day that I played my first division game on Sept. 5, 2009. I will always remember that day. I think everyone remembers the first time they stepped on a professional field. It is something I worked for, and in high school I left everything to be a professional soccer player. When I walked onto the field, the stadium [which seats 55,000 people] was so packed. That is something I will always remember.
Mackenzie Krumme is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.
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