Well Traveled Youth Talent Nico Zaldana Eyes Success At Armada FC

Nico Zaldana has trained at some of the best youth academies around the world and looks for success, big role with local club Jacksonville Armada FC
Feb 13, 2015

By Matthew Levine

While an 18-year-old, Nico Zaldana is certainly well traveled, and in soccer education, he has received some of the best around the globe. He has held training stints in the Netherlands and Spain along with several clubs in the United States.

He’s played within the academies of top Dutch clubs, such as Ajax and Feyenoord. In Spain, he has trained with Espanyol, Getafe,  and most recently Malaga CF as well as FC Dallas and Orlando City SC in the U.S.    

"In Holland, they really focused on developing the player - technical work, proper technique. Spain was more about playing. The players seem to have a lot more natural talent - they just let them play," Zaldana told

Under the guidance of José Luis Villarreal, Guillermo Hoyos, and rest of the Jacksonville Armada FC coaching staff, Zaldana will look to blossom.

"Training I’m getting now compared to abroad is very similar. It gives us all an opportunity to have a taste of what it’s like to play and get coached by our coaches who have played and coached abroad," he said.

Zaldana is certainly eager to learn from Hoyos, who notably coached Lionel Messi, one of the best, if not the best player currently in the sport, at Barcelona B.

"Having him here, a coach that has worked with Lionel Messi, it just makes me want to work harder for him every time I come to training. He’s giving us information that is  very important. Every time I come to training I learn so much. I want to learn, I want to come train and work for him, and maybe I get a chance like Messi did," Zaldana said.

"He’s giving me stuff that he taught Messi, and I just have to work hard, trust him, and give him one hundred percent."

With the Armada FC, it also provides the Orlando, FL. native,  an opportunity to play closer to home.

"I think it’s any kids dream to play in their home state. It shows if you’re really committed and very focused, you can achieve what you’re after and what better place than your home state. I’m very happy to be here in Jacksonville," he said.

The young talent could be asked to play an important role within the team as well. Comfortable in all positions in midfielder, it’s in a more withdrawn position that he has been tasked with by the coaching staff.

"I play an attacking midfielder role, but while I’ve been here I’ve been more of a defensive mid. I do like to attack but do play that defensive mid role," he said.

"I get the ball to the other midfielders to play the ball outside, always moving the ball. They say I need to be the pivot. I have to control the game, so it’s a big role."

Hoping to have a large impact on the field in his first North American Soccer League (NASL) season, Zaldana believes the Armada FC can do the same - and that they shouldn’t be taken lightly.

"We know we’re the underdogs, we know it’s our first year. Our goal is to win the league, to win the U.S. Open Cup, to win everything. I think we are coming in for the first year and still learning, but we have a great environment, great coaching, and I think you’ll see us as a team that’s been in this league for awhile," he said.  


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