Mateo Cassierra was born on 13 April 1997 in Barbacoas, Colombia. “My childhood was very good, even though conditions in my hometown were far from ideal. We played football on a pitch covered in stones and it wasn’t easy to play your best in these conditions. Football has always been my passion and sometimes there was only one ball for all of us, if it got lost, we had to find something to replace it. These things helped me become who I am today,” said Cassierra.
Cassierra eventually signed for Deportivo Cali, one Colombia’s top clubs after a being selected from 40 players at trials. “Football is a lucky ticket, I didn’t see many opportunities in that life, mostly poverty and danger, Mateo told us.
The Barbacoas native made it to the Deportivo Cali first team and started well, scoring 12 goals in his first 18 months in the team. Cassierra played in the Copa Libertadores and scored a brace against Boca Juniors in April 2016.
He caught the attention of Dutch giants Ajax, and in the summer of 2016 made the switch to Europe. “Here, football is more intense and technical, it’s a higher level and is very different, the most important thing is to adapt to it.
Mateo wasn’t a first team regular at Ajax, although he did amass 17 games and 2 goals in the 2016/17 Dutch Championship, but he found it easy getting used to Europe. In his two seasons in the Ajax second team Cassierra scored 29 goals, in a side that contained the likes of Frenkie De Jong, Matthijs De Ligt, Donny van de Beek and Justin Kluivert.
He was also coached by Dennis Bergkamp at the Amsterdam club. “He’s an incredibly cool coach. I really enjoyed working with him, he explained how to deal with the pressure defenders put on forwards and taught us a lot about the psychology of the game, how to predict what a defenders would do and how to use that.
Eric Ten Hag sent Cassierra out on loan in the summer of 2018, to fellow Dutch side Groningen. However six months later he left Holland and headed to Argentina, where Racing on loan.
Cassierra commented on the move at the time: “This is not a backwards step, in Argentina, I’ll have more chances to get into the national team. I know that I need to work hard, but I am young and I believe I will have many more opportunities” Mateo spent six months in Buenos Aires.
The Colombian forward finally left Ajax in September 2019 and moved to Lisbon’s Belenenses SAD. Mateo scored 4 goals in the 2019/20 season in Portugal, and in his second season, he bagged himself 10 goals.
Mateo moved to FC Sochi in the summer of 2021 as a replacement for Anton Zabolotny, who had moved to CSKA Moscow. “Cassierra was one of the first names on our shortlist and we were right about him” said then Sochi manager Vladimir Fedotov.
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