Mainz defender Junior Diaz has been a key part of a Costa Rica side that reached the last eight of the 2014 World Cup
Mainz defender Junior Diaz has been a key part of a Costa Rica side that reached the last eight of the 2014 World Cup

Diaz's long but rewarding road from Costa Rica to Mainz

Mainz - Nobody ever said that rising to the top was easy and some journeys just take a little longer than others. They can turn into more of an expedition in the quest of reaching the promised land of the Bundesliga, but that is not to say that the wait and endeavours are not worthwhile.

The path to stardom

That was certainly the case for Junior Enrique Diaz Campbell, who had reached his late 20s by the time he completed the path from Costa Rica to Germany, with intermediary steps in Poland and Belgium.

Born in September 1983 in the Costa Rican capital San José, Diaz – whose father Enrique also played for Costa Rica – spent his first four formative years as a professional with CS Herediano, one of the Central American country's top sides. At the start of 2008, the versatile full-back-cum-defensive-midfielder's intrepid journey then began.

The early steps were promising. Six months in, he was already celebrating his first Polish title, a feat he repeated the following season as Krakow topped the pile in the Ekstraklasa once again. In September 2010, with 66 top-flight appearances and five goals under his belt, Diaz was snapped up by Club Brugge KV but his sojourn in Belgium was not destined to be quite so successful and he returned to Krakow on loan for the 2011/12 campaign.

Via Mainz to the World Cup

By then, Mainz had the hard-tackling all-rounder in their crosshairs and in the summer of 2012, Diaz headed west again, this time to the Bundesliga. Having demonstrated his credentials as a solid addition to the squad in his debut season, he established himself as a first-team stalwart at left-back down the final straight of 2013/14, helping Mainz to an unexpected place in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Europa League.

On the international front, Diaz took his bow at senior level in 2003, his first year as a professional with Herediano. Eleven years and 60-odd appearances later, he is an integral member of the Costa Rica side performing so sensationally at the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil.