Carlos Vela

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Vela and the second or maternal family name is Garrido.
Carlos Vela
Carlos Vela - Real Sociedad 2016-17.jpg
Vela with Real Sociedad in 2016
Personal information
Full name Carlos Alberto Vela Garrido
Date of birth (1989-03-01) 1 March 1989 (age 28)
Place of birth Cancún, Mexico
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)[1]
Playing position Winger
Club information
Current team
Real Sociedad
Number 11
Youth career
2002–2005 Guadalajara
2005–2006 Arsenal
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2005–2012 Arsenal 29 (3)
2006 Celta (loan) 0 (0)
2006–2007 Salamanca (loan) 31 (8)
2007–2008 Osasuna (loan) 33 (3)
2011 West Bromwich Albion (loan) 8 (2)
2011–2012 Real Sociedad (loan) 35 (12)
2012– Real Sociedad 158 (51)
National team
2005 Mexico U17 8 (5)
2007 Mexico U20 8 (0)
2007– Mexico 48 (15)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 19:11, 28 February 2017 (UTC).
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 11 November 2016

Carlos Alberto Vela Garrido (born 1 March 1989) is a Mexican professional footballer who plays as a winger for Spanish club Real Sociedad and the Mexico national team.

Vela started his career at Mexican club Guadalajara, where he caught the eye of various European clubs after finishing as the top scorer at the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship, finally joining Premier League club Arsenal that year. After joining Arsenal, he had loan spells at Spanish clubs Salamanca and Osasuna, as well as fellow English club West Bromwich Albion, finally joining Real Sociedad on initially loan, then permanently on 10 August 2012.

Vela made his debut with the senior Mexico national team in 2007 in a friendly match against Brazil, and scored his first goal for Mexico in a friendly against Guatemala. He participated in Mexico's CONCACAF Gold Cup victory in 2009, and participated in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Vela rejected all subsequent call-ups for more than three years, including friendlies, World Cup qualifiers and various major tournaments including the 2014 World Cup, citing various reasons for his refusals. In November 2014, Vela made his return to the national team.

Aside from his Mexican nationality, Vela holds a Spanish passport.

Early life[edit]

Carlos Alberto Vela Garrido was born 1 March 1989 in Cancún, Quintana Roo, to Enrique Vela, an iron welder from Campeche, and Nella Garrido, a stay at home mother from Tabasco.[2] His father had played semi-professional football but an injury caused by a torn ligament caused him to retire. At the age of four, Carlos' father enrolled him into local teams. Vela's first club was Ko Cha Wolis,[3] which translates to "Kicking Round Ball" in Mayan. He learned a lot and made significant development and progress during his time spent there, according to Félix Acal, his coach at the time.[2] In school, Carlos played both basketball and football simultaneously, which caused many problems between his coaches. His father made him decide to focus on only one sport at the age of 12, in which Carlos chose football. Enrique Vela was frustrated at the fact that his son Carlos was not being scouted due to living in Cancún, a rural town of México. Around the same time José Luis Real of Guadalajara's Youth System sent scouts to Cancún in 2001 in which Carlos Vela caught their eye. He was summoned to a youth tournament in Buenos Aires with Guadalajara as a small trial period with unpaid expenses. In 2003, during a local competition held in Ciudad Victoria, Carlos was seen and was presented with offers with local teams of the Primera División, including Pachuca. He eventually joined Guadalajara in 2003, though he never received a call up to the club's first-team squad, thus not being able to make his professional debut in Mexico.[2]

Club career[edit]


Vela's career started with Guadalajara, alongside his brother Alejandro. After winning the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship with Mexico and finishing as the top scorer with five goals, Jorge Vergara, owner and club president of Guadalajara, agreed to sign him. Since Vela's family lived in the then-recently-storm-stricken Cancún, he asked that the club help relocate them as a condition of his signing. Vela had previously shown his great affection to his father, whose birthday fell on the day on which Mexico beat Brazil in the final of the U-17 World Cup, by carrying the cup to his father and dedicating his Golden Boot to him.[4]

Carlos Vela at Arsenal


Vela attracted interest from a number of European clubs, and eventually Arsenal won the race for his signature in November 2005 on a five-year deal for a £125,000 fee that rose to £550,000 after he played 50 first-team games.[5] However, since English work permit restrictions for non-EU citizens prevented him from playing in England, Arsenal quickly loaned him out to Spanish club Celta de Vigo in February 2006, but was returned right away with no games played.[6]

Salamanca (loan)[edit]

At the end of the season, Vela was sent to Spanish Segunda División club Salamanca, on loan for the 2006–07 season.[7] He had a successful stay there, creating many of Salamanca's 53 goals, eight of which he scored himself.[8]

Osasuna (loan)[edit]

After his loan spell with Salamanca ended, bigger clubs of La Liga, such as Levante, Osasuna and Almería, were all interested in taking him on loan from Arsenal for whom he was still ineligible to play as he still had yet to receive a work permit.[9] Eventually, a one-year loan move to Osasuna was agreed, with the option of an extension for another year. No permanent option, however, had been included in the deal.[9][10][11] On 31 October 2007, he scored his first goal with Osasuna, in a match against Real Betis, a performance that went on to earn several plaudits from the Spanish press.[12]

Return to Arsenal[edit]

Carlos Vela featuring for Arsenal in 2010

On 22 May 2008, Vela was granted a work permit that allowed him to play in England. Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger confirmed that Vela would be involved with the first team in the coming season and that he viewed Vela as a striker in the Eduardo mould.[13][14]

Vela made his competitive debut for Arsenal on 30 August 2008 in their Premier League match against Newcastle United, coming on as a substitute for Robin van Persie in the 63rd minute. Arsenal won the match 3–0. In his full debut on 23 September 2008, against Sheffield United in the League Cup, Vela scored a hat-trick in a 6–0 win, with his second goal recently voted as one of Arsenal's Greatest 50 Goals.[15] The match was also notable for featuring Arsenal's youngest ever side, with an average age of 19.[16]

Vela (right) and former team mate Aaron Ramsey against Stoke City

On 8 March 2009, in the FA Cup Fifth Round tie against Burnley, Vela scored the first goal in a 3–0 win by chipping the ball over the keeper and into the goal.[17] He scored his first goal in the Premier League for Arsenal away to Portsmouth on 2 May 2009[18] making him just the second Mexican player to score a goal in the Premier League. On 28 April, Vela was excluded from Arsenal's training session as a precaution due to the 2009 swine flu outbreak. Two of Vela's friends from Mexico visited him over the weekend and Arsenal were asked to keep him away. He returned to training the next day, however, after being given the all-clear.[19]

Vela missed Arsenal's pre-season campaign of the 2009–10 season after suffering an ankle injury which kept him out until September. He returned to action on 22 September by coming off the bench in Arsenal's 2–0 win by assisting the first and scoring the second goal against West Bromwich Albion in the League Cup. On 21 November 2009, he made his first appearance of the season in the Premier League away to Sunderland, playing 21 minutes after coming on as a substitute for Eduardo. Vela renewed his contract with Arsenal on 10 December 2009.[20] On 4 May 2010, Vela played his 50th game in an Arsenal shirt, against Blackburn Rovers. On 9 May, he scored the fourth goal of Arsenal's victory over Fulham.

Vela wore the number 11 shirt for the 2010–11 campaign, as Robin van Persie switched to the number 10, which was vacated by former Arsenal defender William Gallas. Coincidentally, Vela's brother Alejandro also wore the number 11 shirt while playing for Cruz Azul in Mexico. Carlos Vela scored his first goal of the season against Bolton Wanderers in a 4–1 home win on 11 September 2010.[21] On 15 September, Vela scored two goals in the UEFA Champions League when Arsenal beat Portuguese side Braga 6–0.[22]

West Bromwich (loan)[edit]

On 28 January 2011, Vela joined West Brom on loan until the end of the 2010–11 season. He made his debut on 1 February 2011 in a 2–2 draw against Wigan Athletic, playing 58 minutes of the game.[23] He scored his first goal coming in as a substitute for the Baggies in his third match for the club with a 92nd-minute equaliser against Wolverhampton Wanderers on 20 February 2011. Vela once again scored for West Brom in the dying minutes of a game against Stoke City to salvage a 1–1 draw after coming on as a late substitute.[24]

Real Sociedad (loan)[edit]

On 15 August 2011, Arsenal announced that Vela would be loaned out to Spanish club Real Sociedad, subject to a medical.[25] After passing the medical exams, he was officially presented on 17 August 2011.[26] As Vela was sent away on loan, his number 11 shirt was given to new Arsenal signing André Santos,[27] although the club's website still listed Vela as having the shirt number 11. On 4 December 2011, Vela scored a bicycle kick goal to equalise for Real Sociedad, his second of the season, against Málaga before teammate Diego Ifrán scored a late winner to make the score 3–2. Vela scored the only goal for Real Sociedad in a 2–1 loss to Barcelona, making it his third goal for the season.[28]

In early February 2012, rumours of Vela's future at Arsenal began to surface, claiming that he wished to stay in Spain with Real Sociedad. Vela has been quoted saying, "I don't want to return to Arsenal. I have asked my agent to negotiate with Arsenal to stay here."[29][30]

Real Sociedad[edit]

Vela shooting against Levante goalkeeper Gustavo Munúa in September 2012

After a successful loan spell in Spain, making over 30 appearances in all competitions and scoring 12 goals, Vela was officially transferred to Real Sociedad from Arsenal on 17 July 2012, with the move believed to have cost 3 million.[31] The deal was confirmed by Arsenal on 10 August.[32] He was given the number 11 shirt. During the 2012–13 season, Vela played predominantly on the right wing and scored 14 goals, as well as having nine assists. There had been speculation in the media that he would return to Arsenal, however no talks took place between the two teams.[33][34]

Vela started the 2013–14 season, scoring once and assisting the other in the team's 2–0 win over Getafe.[35] He scored twice, a header and a stoppage-time individual goal, to confirm Real Sociedad's progression to the group stages of the Champions League at Lyon's expense.[36] On 23 November, he scored four goals in La Real's 4–3 win over Celta de Vigo.[37]

On 20 January 2014, it was announced that Vela had won La Liga Player of the Month for December after his performances against clubs such as Real Betis, Granada, Real Madrid and Barcelona.[38]

On 5 May, Vela scored in the 1–1 draw against Granada. The goal was Vela's 15th league strike of the season—surpassing his tally of 14 from the previous season—and his 20th in all competitions.[39] He was nominated at the season's LFP Awards for the Best Forward in the league, losing out to Cristiano Ronaldo.[40] On 24 June, Vela signed a four-year contract extension which will keep him at Real Sociedad until 2018.[41]

Vela scored his first goal of the 2014–15 season in Real Sociedad's 4–2 win against Real Madrid on 1 September 2014.[42] On 28 November, he scored all of the side's goals as they beat Elche 3–0 for new manager David Moyes' first victory at the club.[43] These were three of his four league goals that month, which once again earned him the La Liga's Player of the Month award.[44]

On 31 January 2015, during Real Sociedad's 1–4 league defeat to Real Madrid, Vela was subbed off in the 17th minute due to a knee injury, which was later reported to be ligament damage, and would require surgery.[45] Though it was initially reported that Vela would miss the remainder of the season,[45] it was confirmed through a club statement that the injury was an internal meniscus tear and that Vela would be out for two months.[46] He made his return on 22 March against Córdoba, being substituted on for Esteban Granero in the 66th minute and providing an assist in Real Sociedad's 3–1 win.[47]

On 25 October, Vela scored his first two goals of the 2015–16 season in Real Sociedad's 4–0 win over Levante.[48]

On 9 March 2016, it was reported that Vela had been separated from the first team after he failed to report for training two days earlier, claiming he was suffering from gastroenteritis, though a photo began circulating on social media of him attending a Chris Brown concert in Madrid hours after the team's 1–1 draw against Levante.[49][50] He was ultimately fined by the club and ruled out for the team's next match against Celta de Vigo.[51] Sociedad manager Eusebio Sacristán, however, named Vela in the squad for the match against Celta, appearing as a second-half substitute in the 0–1 loss.[52]

International career[edit]

Mexico U-17[edit]

Vela played in the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship, held in Peru, where he helped Mexico to victory. He was a pivotal figure in the final against Brazil as Mexico triumphed 3–0. Vela subsequently finished as top scorer with five goals, claiming the Adidas Golden Boot.[4]

Mexico national team[edit]

During his stay at Osasuna, Vela made his full international debut for the Mexico senior team in a September 2007 friendly against Brazil. On 18 October 2007, he scored his first senior international goal for Mexico in a friendly against Guatemala in Los Angeles.

On 8 June 2008, Vela scored his second senior international goal in a friendly against Peru in the 20th minute to help Mexico to a 4–0 victory. A match later for Mexico, he scored in their 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying opener against Belize making the match 1–0. In the return leg against Belize, he again scored the opening goal of the match and beginning the 7–0 rout in favour of El Tri.

In July 2009, Vela represented Mexico at the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. He started in Mexico's opener against Nicaragua. Five minutes into the match, an opposing player tackled Vela and he fell awkwardly on his right leg. X-rays, however, showed he did not break anything and could play again in the tournament.[53] Mexico advanced to the semi-finals against Costa Rica, where Vela would make his return in the 81st minute. After extra time, the game was tied 1–1 and went to penalties. After Guillermo Ochoa saved Froylán Ledezma's penalty, Vela scored Mexico's fifth penalty to send them to the final. In the final against the United States, Vela was brought on at half time with the score deadlocked at 0–0. Mexico went on to defeat the United States 5–0 with Vela providing the pass to Giovani dos Santos for the first penalty, creating the second goal, scoring the third and assisting the fourth.[54]

On 10 October 2009, Vela scored one goal and assisted a goal in Mexico's 4–1 win over El Salvador which meant Mexico qualified for the 2010 World Cup.

On 3 June 2010, Vela scored his first international goal against a team from Europe, in a friendly match against Italy. He scored the first goal of the game with an assist from Giovani dos Santos. Mexico would win the match 2–1.[55]

During the World Cup group match against France, Vela was subbed off in the 31st minute for Pablo Barrera due to injury and would miss the next match against Uruguay.[56]

On 21 September 2010, the Mexican Football Federation announced that Vela and teammate Efraín Juárez would be suspended from the Mexico national team for six months for their involvement in a party on 7 September in Monterrey following a game with Colombia.[57] Vela and 12 other players were also fined 50,000 Mexican pesos (approximately US$3,953 as of 24 September 2010), used to help the flood victims in the Mexican state of Veracruz.[58]

After his suspension, Vela returned to the national team after head coach José Manuel de la Torre called him up in a friendly match against Venezuela in February 2011. He refused a call-up to participate in the 2012 London Olympics – which Mexico went on to win – due to wanting to establish himself with his new club Real Sociedad.[59] He declined a third time to join the national team in March 2013 for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers against the United States and Honduras due to personal reasons.[60]

After De La Torre was sacked, Vela declared his wish to return to play for Mexico. In September 2013, Víctor Manuel Vucetich called him up for World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Costa Rica, however Vela declined once again to come back to the national team.[61] Afterwards, Vucetich refused to make any more comments regarding Vela, calling it a "closed case".[62] On 3 February 2014, new national team coach Miguel Herrera flew to Spain with officials from the Mexican Football Federation to meet with Vela and gauge his interest in representing the national team. After the meeting, Vela expressed that he was not "100 percent mentally ready to represent Mexico", subsequently ruling out his participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[63]

In November 2014, after a three-year absence, Vela accepted a call up to the national team for the friendly matches against the Netherlands and Belarus. He scored twice on his return as Mexico defeated the Dutch 3–2 at the Amsterdam Arena on 12 November.[64]

Vela was included in Mexico's squad for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, scoring in the team's opening match against Cuba on 9 July.[65] On 15 July, Vela scored his second goal in the competition in Mexico's 4–4 draw against Trinidad and Tobago. In the quarterfinal and semifinal matches against Costa Rica and Panama, Vela received two yellow cards, which meant he would miss the final against Jamaica; Mexico subsequently won the tournament.

Style of play[edit]

Vela is a dynamic and mobile forward that is able to play a more creative role due to his vision, technique and ability to pass and to shoot from range. Although in his early years his favored position was that of a striker, he is currently deployed more as a winger and second striker.

Career statistics[edit]


As of 10 February 2017[66][67][68][69][70]
Club Season League Cup Europe Total
Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists
Salamanca 2006–07 31 8 15 0 0 0 31 8 15
Total 31 8 15 0 0 0 31 8 15
Osasuna 2007–08 33 3 4 0 0 0 33 3 4
Total 33 3 4 0 0 0 33 3 4
Arsenal 2008–09 14 1 0 7 5 3 8 0 0 29 6 3
2009–10 11 1 0 4 1 2 5 0 0 20 2 2
2010–11 4 1 0 5 0 1 4 2 0 13 3 1
Total 29 3 0 16 6 6 17 2 0 62 11 6
West Bromwich Albion 2010–11 8 2 1 8 2 1
Total 8 2 1 8 2 1
Real Sociedad 2011–12 35 12 7 2 0 0 37 12 7
2012–13 35 14 9 1 0 0 36 14 9
2013–14 37 16 12 7 2 0 8 3 1 52 21 13
2014–15 29 9 3 1 1 1 2 0 0 32 10 4
2015–16 35 5 4 1 0 0 36 5 4
2016–17 21 6 5 4 1 0 25 7 5
Total 192 62 39 16 4 1 10 3 1 218 69 41
Career Total 293 78 58 32 10 7 27 5 1 352 93 67


As of 11 November 2016[71]
National team Year Apps Goals
Mexico 2007 2 1
2008 11 3
2009 9 3
2010 11 2
2011 2 0
2014 2 2
2015 10 4
2016 1 0
Total 48 15

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Mexico's goal tally first.[72]
Goal Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 16 October 2007 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, United States  Guatemala 1–1 2–3 Friendly
2. 8 June 2008 Soldier Field, Chicago, United States  Peru 3–0 4–0 Friendly
3. 15 June 2008 Reliant Stadium, Houston, United States  Belize 1–0 2–0 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
4. 21 June 2008 Estadio Universitario, San Nicolás de los Garza, Mexico  Belize 1–0 7–0 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
5. 23 June 2009 Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Mexico  Venezuela 1–0 4–0 Friendly
6. 26 July 2009 Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, United States  United States 3–0 5–0 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup
7. 10 October 2009 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico  El Salvador 4–1 4–1 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
8. 3 March 2010 Rose Bowl, Pasadena, United States  New Zealand 2–0 2–0 Friendly
9. 3 June 2010 Stade Roi Baudouin, Brussels, Belgium  Italy 1–0 2–1 Friendly
10. 12 November 2014 Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands  Netherlands 1–0 3–2 Friendly
11. 2–1
12. 9 July 2015 Soldier Field, Chicago, United States  Cuba 2–0 6–0 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup
13. 15 July 2015 Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, United States  Trinidad and Tobago 2–0 4–4 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup
14. 13 October 2015 Estadio Nemesio Díez, Toluca, Mexico  Panama 1–0 1–0 Friendly
15. 13 November 2015 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico  El Salvador 3–0 3–0 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification



Mexico U-17



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External links[edit]