WINNIPEG — Midfielders Diego Gutiérrez and Nicolás Galvis have been inseparable — especially when it comes to getting to know their new Valour FC teammates or, say, speaking with this reporter.
English-speaking Galvis has taken it upon himself to play translator for Gutiérrez, a Quebec-born midfielder who has lived in Chile since he was three-years-old.
“Nico deserves the world because it’s a lot of help for me,” Gutiérrez said through Galvis. “He helps me out everywhere he can so I don’t feel left out, I feel welcome.”
Galvis, a Colombian-born midfielder, remembers his teammate’s situation well. At the age of seven, his family relocated from Manizales, Colombia to St. Catherines, Ont. He credits former classmates and hockey for helping adjust in his early years living in Canada.
“We had the (Ontario Hockey League) Niagara IceDogs and I had a lot of friends with season tickets,” Galvis said. “So every weekend I would go, even before I spoke English. They would show me how to be Canadian.”
Soccer remains his favourite sport, but Galvis continues to follow hockey to this day. Funny enough, he’s now in the same city as the team he pays the most attention to, the National Hockey League’s Winnipeg Jets.
“That’s my team,” he said. “I’m super excited to go to a Jets game and hopefully they go far in the playoffs.”
Both Galvis and Gutiérrez have put their support behind representing Canada on the international stage. Valour FC head coach Rob Gale brought Gutiérrez into the fold when he was coach of the under-20 national team. That connection led the 22-year-old to Winnipeg from Palestino, a team in Chile’s top division.
“He brought me in for a camp and I liked him from that,” Gutiérrez said. “It’s why I am here today.”
That feeling is mutual, as coach Gale heaped high praise on a potential starting winger, who is also capable of playing as a right fullback.
“Anyone who sees him likes his game and his technical quality,” Gale said of Gutiérrez. “It’s the dynamics of his play, his movement, his decision making, he’s a lot of fun to watch and so versatile.”
Galvis shows his own versatility as he smoothly transitions from English to Spanish for a tag-team interview with Gutierrez. The left-footed central midfielder can also play out wide.
In 2017, at age 20, Galvis was called up to the Canadian men’s national team for a friendly against Curaçao while playing for Colombian side Pereira.
“I feel more Canadian than Colombian now, but I still know my roots,” he added.
Second Gutierrez talks cool off
When Diego Gutiérrez signed on with Valour FC just before training camp, there were whispers of his twin brother, Cristian Gutiérrez, could be making the move to Winnipeg, too.
The left-footed defender appeared set to leave Chilean side Huachipato for Canada, but another club in his home country came calling.
Colo-Colo, a major club in South America, announced its agreement with Gutierrez after an injury to the club’s starting left fullback, Ronald De la Fuente.