Oliva, the boy who slept under the Central Park tribune

The pivot of Valencia started as a forward and had a great facility for the goal. He had growth problems, but when he gave the stretch he jumped into professional football. "Surely he will triumph in Mestalla," says his father.


Under the grandstand of the Great Central Park and inside his father's car, Christian Oliva (Ciudad del Plata, 1996) was rushing his last hours of sleep. El Toto would get up early to tour the city first thing in the morning and accompany his father to work, who curiously collaborated in the remodeling of the Nacional stadium. Christian, while waiting for training to begin and still without a driver's license, preferred to arrive early to the stage where his first dreams as a footballer occurred. Inside the car and with her father in Central Park working, Oliva took the last naps as the sun rose. Later, it was activated and was one of the pearls of Nacional.

Oliva, Valencia's latest signing, started playing football at the age of four. His father also did it, although he opted for construction and only had time to combine it in amateur leagues. Toto, as Christian is known in Uruguay by what his older sister called him, began kicking his first kicks at Bochas, the club in his neighborhood. There he was until he was nine years old. Nacional, a great in his country, knocked on his door and Christian and his family did not hesitate. The Uruguayan started as a center forward and little by little he delayed his position until he occupied the pivot position he currently plays. Curiously, Oliva, far from the scoring stars that Uruguay has and has had, had a soccer idol: Óscar Javier Morales. The pivot was one of Nacional's figures in the first decade of 2000, even playing for Valladolid and Malaga. When Toto had to go back meters on the court, he didn't care because his idol did too.

A Christian, according to his surroundings, fell for goals as a child. "Every year he finished as the top scorer in the championships. One year he scored 59 goals", Julio, his father, recalled to AS. The Oliva saga is very much alive because Gonzalo, Christian's brother, also plays for Nacional at 13 years old. The little boy follows in his brother's footsteps. "I'm living with Gonzalo the same thing that happened with Christian. They are traced physically and on the pitch," says his father.

Toto did not have it easy. The first problems came to him because of his height. Christian took a long time to develop. The Uruguayan did not give the stretch until he was 15 years old. He was the short one on the team, the boy who lacked the physicality to find a place among boys his age who were much taller and stronger. That problem made him leave Nacional, which opened the doors to having doubts about his growth. Oliva headed to Bella Vista, where he stayed until he was 18 years old. There he finished exploding and Cacique Medina recruited him to return to Nacional. On his return, he collapsed the door of the first team "after scoring 17 goals from outside the area with the subsidiary," according to his father. The Cacique, after the physical change of Toto, decided to take advantage of his conditions and delayed him to the center of the field. The first team called him up and Christian was the best. Shortly after, Cagliari paid five million euros for his transfer. The family advised him to stay one more year in South America before making the leap to European football. But Oliva was clear about it and packed her bags. Before signing for Cagliari, his parents had to keep their feet on the ground because clubs from all over the world were knocking on their doorstep. "They told us that even Atlético de Madrid had it on their agenda," says Julio.

In Italy he paid for the adaptation period, but little by little his best version was seen. But an ankle injury, which in principle was going to have him out for a couple of weeks, took its toll and Cagliari opened the doors for him. Valencia, attentive, threw their networks in an express way. "We found out about Valencia's interest on Friday night and the market closed on Monday. Eibar and PAOK also loved him, but Christian was clear about it. He is very happy at Valencia and I am convinced that he will succeed. at Mestalla. I have a lot of faith in my son because he is a very competitive and dedicated player, "says the oldest of the Oliva, who hopes that Valencia will execute the non-mandatory purchase option that he has at the end of the season to be able to take roots in Spain, the League in which Toto always dreamed of playing.

Photos from as.com
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