Ulises de la Cruz
|Ulises de la Cruz|
|Member of the National Assembly for Carchi Province|
14 May 2013
8 February 1974 |
Piquiucho, Carchi, Ecuador
|Political party||PAIS Alliance|
Association football career
Ulises Hernán de la Cruz Bernardo (born 8 February 1974 in Piquiucho) is a retired Ecuadorian footballer, who since 2013 has been a member of his country's National Assembly for the governing PAIS Alliance.
He played 101 times for the Ecuador national football team between 1995 and 2010, and was selected for two FIFA World Cup tournaments. He spent his club career at Deportivo Quito, Barcelona S.C., Aucas, Cruzeiro, Hibernian, Aston Villa, Reading and Birmingham City.
De la Cruz has set up a charity, Friends of FundeCruz, in his home village to fund a number of projects serving the local community.
De la Cruz's first team was the Ecuadorian side Sociedad Deportivo Quito, for whom he started playing at the age of 16 in the junior division and later the professional division. Nonetheless, De la Cruz's breakthrough season was with LDU Quito in 1998. He scored three goals in the final against Emelec (7–0).
Alex McLeish, the manager of Scottish Premier League club Hibernian, watched de la Cruz play in international matches for Ecuador, and then signed him in June 2001 for a club record fee of £700,000. De la Cruz scored two goals for Hibs, both coming in an Edinburgh derby match against Hibs' local rivals Hearts. He only played for Hibs in one season before he was sold after de la Cruz played in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. De la Cruz said before the tournament that he wanted to use the World Cup as a showcase, desiring a move to Spain or Italy.
De la Cruz was signed by Graham Taylor for Aston Villa. He previously made hints of leaving the club, feeling that joining Aston Villa is one of the highlights of his career Deportivo Quito claimed that Hibernian failed to pay them a sell-on fee, but this was settled by agreement. Having made his debut, De la Cruz expressed his delight, playing in the Premier League and soon became a fan favourite at Aston Villa
In his first season at the club, he played 24 times, scoring one league goal, against Charlton Athletic. He featured more in the 2003–04 season after David O'Leary took over, and an injury to Mark Delaney ensured that de la Cruz could start more games than he had previously, and he signed a new contract for the 2004–05 campaign.
During his third season with Aston Villa, de la Cruz became frustrated at his lack of first team opportunities and accused O'Leary of blocking transfers for him.
On 25 August 2006, he signed a one-year deal with Reading on a free transfer. De la Cruz scored his first Reading goal against Sheffield United in a 3–1 win on 20 January 2007. After an impressive first season with Reading, he was offered a contract that would tie him to the Madejski Stadium for two more years. Following their relegation from the Premier League, Reading announced on 16 May 2008 that he would not be offered a new contract.
After a few weeks' training with the club, de la Cruz signed a one-month contract with Birmingham City of the Football League Championship in March 2009. The player was initially given squad number 27, previously allocated to Krystian Pearce who had been loaned out for the season; however the Football League ruled that the number could not be re-used and De la Cruz was given number 36 instead. He made his Birmingham debut as a second-half substitute in the 2–0 win away at Doncaster Rovers on 14 March. When his contract expired, the player chose not to accept the offer of an extension until the end of the season.
Following his release, de la Cruz returned to Ecuador to play for FIFA World Club Cup runner-up LDU Quito, his third spell at the club. De la Cruz played in both 2009 Recopa Sudamericana matches against Sport Club Internacional de Porto Alegre. LDU Quito won the Recopa giving Ulises his first international title.
Although not always a first choice for his club, he remained an important member of the Ecuador national football team. De la Cruz won 101 caps for his country, between May 1995 and May 2010. He was a fixture in the Ecuador team in the 2006 FIFA World Cup which reached the second round.
In his homeland, de la Cruz is one of Ecuador's most popular players, both for his footballing talent and his charitable projects. The Supporters' Trust at Reading (STAR) organised a facility to allow supporters the means to donate to the Ulises de la Cruz Foundation.
Due to Ecuador's poor start in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, de la Cruz and his teammate, Ivan Hurtado sharply criticised the coach and the atmosphere in the team. As a result, they were excluded from selection for the last two matches of 2007 against Paraguay and Peru.
Born in Piquiucho, a small village in the Valle del Chota, one of Ecuador's poorest regions, De la Cruz set up the charity Friends of FundeCruz to fund a number of projects serving the local community, to which he donates about 10% of his salary. Friends of FundeCruz is also a British registered charity. At one of the Reading matches, fans were asked to donate money to his fund and he raised a few thousand pounds. Money will also be raised at the Ruta del Sol in February 2008. The foundation funds amongst other things a water treatment plant, a health centre and a sports ground. He has been named a UNICEF ambassador.
In the Ecuadorian general election of 2013 De la Cruz was chosen as member of the National Assembly for Carchi Province. De la Cruz serves as member of PAIS Alliance. Agustín Delgado and Iván Hurtado, former team-mates of De la Cruz for the national team, also serve for the PAIS Alliance in the National Assembly.
- De La Cruz's double hit, The Independent, 22 October 2001.
- "De La Cruz eyes Scottish exit". Sky Sports. BSkyB. 30 May 2002. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "Ulises completes Villa switch". Sky Sports. 26 July 2002. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "Ulises desperate to join Villa". Sky Sports. 23 July 2002. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- Figueroa, Patricio (12 August 2002). "Liga Deportiva claim de la Cruz money". Sky Sports. BSkyB. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- Figueroa, Patricio (21 August 2002). "Hibs sort out De La Cruz cash row". Sky Sports. BSkyB. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "Ulises delighted with Villa start". Sky Sports. 27 August 2002. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "Villa Cruz past Charlton". BBC Sport. BBC. 11 September 2002. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
- "De La Cruz pens new deal". Sky Sports. 11 August 2005. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "Royals complete free transfer signing of Ulises De La Cruz on one year deal". readingfc.co.uk. 25 August 2006. Retrieved 25 August 2006.
- "Reading 3–1 Sheff Utd". BBC Sport. 20 January 2007. Retrieved 3 April 2007.
- "Royals eye up new De La Cruz deal". BBC Sport. 14 May 2007. Retrieved 19 May 2007.
- "Four offered deals, six released". readingfc.co.uk. 16 May 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2008.
- "Blues land de la Cruz". Birmingham City F.C. 3 March 2009. Retrieved 3 March 2009.
- "Squad Numbers Update". Birmingham City F.C. 6 March 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2009.
- Tattum, Colin (16 March 2009). "Alex McLeish takes no risks with Franck Queudrue". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 16 March 2009.
- Tattum, Colin (9 April 2009). "Ulises de la Cruz turns down Birmingham city FC contract offer". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 9 April 2009.
- "Ulysses From the Cross was removed from football" [Ulises De la Cruz se retira del fútbol] (in Spanish). Goal.com. 28 February 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "Ulises de la Cruz would have his farewell party" [Ulises de la Cruz tendría su partido despedida] (in Spanish). Goal.com. 2 March 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "FIFA Century Club" (PDF). FIFA. 3 August 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- Espinoza, Fernando (17 September 2010). "Ulises de la Cruz – Century of International Appearances". RSSSF. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- Sturdey, Sarah (15 February 2007). "Heroic Ulises on voyage of hope". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 February 2007.
- "Ecuador snub Hurtado and De la Cruz". FIFA. 6 November 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
- "World Cup: Troubled Ecuador try to break duck". ESPNsoccernet. 15 November 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
- "Ecuadorean footballer rebuilds village". BBC News. 27 January 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2007.
- "Ulises' FundeCruz foundation". readingfc.co.uk. 18 December 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
- "Help Ulises with his charity work". readingfc.co.uk. 20 December 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
- Mariela Rosero (19 February 2013). "Alianza País podría controlar 2/3 de la Asamblea" (in Spanish). El Comercio. Retrieved 14 June 2013.