BERNAT LÓPEZ / ©XTREM FOOTBALL
Which young prospect will compete against FC Barcelona’s giant Lieke Martens to dominate women’s football during the upcoming years? Deyna Castellanos (1999), that’s the answer. The 18-year-old striker is currently playing college soccer at Florida State after raising in Venezuela and has more than 1 million followers in social media.
Born in Maracay, a city about an hour and a half from Caracas, Castellanos’s dream was to play in the United States. She first truly emerged on the world scene at the 2014 U17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica. Deyna finished the tournament as top scorer, with 6 goals in 6 matches and leading Venezuela to the semifinals: country’s best finish at any level of international competition ever. Maybe the craziest part of what Castellanos accomplished in Costa Rica is this: she had yet to even turn 15 during the tournament.
Deyna would repeat the feat at the 2016 U17 World Cup in Jordan, where she put 5 goals in the back of the net as Venezuela, once again, finished in 4th place. In that competition, Castellanos also became the all-time leading goalscorer in the history of the U17 World Cup (11 scores), and now she needs only 2 goals more to outrank Alexandra Popp as the all-time leading markswoman in FIFA junior competitions.
Last year, the Venezuelan raising star was named a finalist for The Best FIFA Women’s Player 2017 award and has been attracting national attention for her goal-scoring prowess. Castellanos is so gifted with the ball that it feels at times like she isn’t trying to solve a defense but rather the physics of the sport itself.
The personality and the skill make her a potentially powerful ambassador for the game. Like so many others, across the world but especially in South America, she grew up idolizing Marta. No matter what people said about a girl playing soccer or what opportunities did or did not exist for her, she could see living proof in that iconic yellow jersey that the game was made for her, too.
At this moment, Florida State’s internationally striker isn’t ready to end her career as a Seminole. Last season Deyna led her college with 19 goals, but she isn’t going pro yet. Last week, the 18-year-old star announced via social media she’ll return for her junior season at Florida State. Enjoy with Deyna’s talent mate!