Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Jose Izquierdo has paid tribute to his late brother Diego Julian, dedicating his footballing career and achievements to him.
The Colombian midfielder lost his elder brother when Diego was 14 years old, and he revealed how much of an impact he’s had on his life, both on and off the football pitch.
He said, “My brother was a great influence on me, he means so much to me in my life. In life these things happen, and some leave this world earlier than others.
“He was an inspiration for me. At first, I didn’t know I wanted to be a footballer, and when he was alive I wanted to be an engineer like him. When my dad had problems, my brother was the one who came to help him.
“We had a close relationship. I believe in god and religion and he’s the angel in heaven that’s looking after me – I think he’s very proud of what I’ve achieved so far and he’s still with me now.
“When he passed away I thought I’d stop football, I didn’t find many opportunities to play at that time. I had a lot of difficulties, so I tried to do other things like university.
“I studied for a year and a half — in the mornings I trained for football and in the evenings I would study. I then got approached by Once Caldas in Colombia and the rest is history.”
Izquierdo arrived on the south coast last summer from Club Brugge and notched five times in the Premier League during his first season — and he reflected on some further motivations that he has at home.
“I read a lot and I have messages up around the house where I can see them every day.
“Sometimes you forget things, no matter what job you do, because you have many things on your mind.
“In a footballer’s life, sometimes you can be in a bit of a bubble and it’s not real life — these messages I have represent real life both inside and outside of football.
“Maybe I can tell you I’d like to score this weekend – but there’s going to be a lot of things I’ll need to do to achieve that. I have to work hard every day, also on my defensive work, even if I don’t like doing that, because otherwise I won’t play!”
The midfielder’s bubbly and lively persona is well-known amongst team-mates and fans alike, and the wide man insisted that those characteristics are ones which have always been something he’s carried through all aspects of life.
“My aims are always to try and improve on the previous season and pass my goals tally and assist number from the last campaign.
“You always try to become a better person than yesterday. As for the team, we want to stay in this league and aim higher within the table. We can get better and we want to climb the division – every day we all have to train hard to try and achieve that.
“In life, in general, I just try to stay happy and positive and enjoy life. I always want to learn whatever I can about everyone I meet. Every day is a step, and you can reach new heights if you work hard.”