The record is just one more piece of information in the massive history of matches played, but it certainly has a special meaning for Santiago Dittborn. On May 17, 2015, the offensive midfielder entered San Marcos in the 3-1 win against Catholic University, in Arica, and more than five years had to pass for him to step back onto the pitch as a professional footballer. Sure, the lefty retired, studied Commercial engineering and now surprisingly he returned being part of the campus of La Serena.
“For a long time I wanted to go back to football, to play again. The truth is that I am very happy for everything, for this option and this opportunity that was given here in La Serena. Very happy to be able to play and compete again “, he tells AS Chile Dittborn, who was trained at UC and was on loan at Cobreloa and the Ariqueño cast.
– Why did you decide to retire at one point?
– There were several things, between injuries and other situations. I went around the United States and Portugal, looking for some possibility, because I have a community passport, and the possibility was there, but it did not end up closing the option of Portugal. I was also at a stage where I wondered if I was still in football or studying something. In that minute, I was given to do the last thing, but then the strong desire to play without neglecting academics returned, because I couldn’t leave them half-way either. I said to myself ‘I’m going to focus on studying and training to see if I get a chance’.
– What happened to your life when you were only dedicated to studies?
– I started studying in 2016 and there I kept playing in more amateur leagues, with friends, but because of university I didn’t play. I always kept training a lot, because I kind of stayed with the rhythm of the previous years.
– Did the desire to return to football grow as you approached the end of your study period?
– It happened to me that in the last year it was too much that made me want to play again and also being outside one realizes, because being there one does not value it so much, and misses it, as it begins to assess what he had before, which was to be playing in the First Division.
– How did you prepare? It is not arriving and joining a professional team.
– I came with the idea for a long time and on the other hand I was also finishing my studies. As everything fit so that it could be given now. I finished and took my grade exam in February and the preseason here in La Serena started in the first days of March. I started preparing many days before without knowing if it would be specifically in La Serena, but already wanting to be given that opportunity. So, I started to prepare physically, mentally and also soccer. Stronger, yes, when the pandemic started in 2020. I already knew it was my last year of study and I wanted to see if there was a possibility. I didn’t know if that would happen, but it was best to be prepared.
– How did you find an opportunity?
– I started to move a little, to see what alternatives I could have, to see how it was happening. It was also logical that after so long my idea was to join a preseason. I knew that after so long it was impossible for someone to tell me ‘you know, don’t worry, come and play here’. So, the teacher (Miguel Ponce) knew me, because when he was in the cadets of Católica I was going up to the first team and he said ‘I know Chago perfectly, but I don’t know what situation he’s in now, let him come and join in and we’ll see how this’.
– The location on the court, arriving on time to the plays, the relationship with the ball, and so on. Didn’t you have a problem with that? It’s going back to training with a professional team.
– Obviously the rhythm is much more intense. You can be prepared and then the football rhythm is higher and faster. But that I was catching with the passage of the trainings along with the rest.