(born on May 15
, in Buenos Aires
) is an Argentine
player, who currently plays for Spanish club Villarreal CF
and the Chilean national team
. He is also known by several nicknames such as Mati
, El Pelusa
, and Matigol.
Fernández is an attacking midfielder, a playmaker, fantastic dribbler. and a free kick specialist. He can also play as a striker or centre forward, if required. Before leaving for Villarreal he was awarded the South American Footballer of the Year 2006 for his campaign with Chilean club Colo-Colo.
Born in the Caballito
neighbourhood in Buenos Aires to Argentinian mother Mirtha and Chilean father Humberto, they moved when Matías was four to La Calera, Chile
. Fernández had been referred to as a young Maradona by a neighbour after watching a game of his. Fernández has two brothers, Ezequiel and Nazareno. Fernández says he considers himself Chilean since he moved to Chile at age 4 and doesn't remember anything from those first four years of his life.
He began with the youth squads of Colo-Colo at the age of 12. His debut in first division came on August 1
, against archrival Universidad de Chile
. A week later he scored his first two goals against Cobresal
. In the same season, "Matigol" scored a spectacular goal against O'Higgins
, which immortalized him to fans. He would go on to score a total of eight goals in Clausura tournament of 2004, and was named best young player of the season. In the 2006 Apertura tournament, Fernández helped Colo-Colo capture their 24th title. In December of the same year he helped Colo-Colo reach the final of the Copa Sudamericana 2006
, where they lost to CF Pachuca
of Mexico, scoring nine goals in six games for the tournament.
He left Colo-Colo on a high note winning the 2006 Clausura tournament and he was named the South American Footballer of the Year
On October 18
, Fernández was signed by Spanish side Villarreal CF
for a fee of 8.7m euros to give Villarreal a more offensive flair. The transaction was made before he received the "South American Player of the Year" award (which explains the lower price of his fee). Despite reports that Real Madrid
were also interested, he agreed to terms with Villarreal and arrived at Valencia airport on December 27, 2006. He debuted in January 7, 2007, against Valencia
. Villarreal's coach, Manuel Pellegrini
, is also Chilean. Matias Fernandez has a buyout clause of €50 million euros, but has failed to break into the first team many times.
Fernández captained the Chilean team at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship
scoring a goal in the 7-0 victory over Honduras even though he was powerless when Chile lost 0-7 to Spain. Despite that defeat, the team managed to pass to the next round by finishing as one of the top third place teams. Subsequently they lost to Netherlands
and were eliminated from the competition. Even though the team left the tournament quickly, Fernández impressed with his play on the field alongside Nicolas Canales
, Carlos Villanueva
, and Jose Pedro Fuenzalida
Fernández has represented the Chile national football team at the under-17, under-20, and adult levels. He played in Chile's last game of the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONMEBOL) schedule, replacing Luis Jiménez. He has scored five goals with the adult squad, three against Peru, one against Venezuela and one against Colombia.
His traditional jersey number is 14, which he wore in Colo-Colo, the U-17 and U-20 National Teams, and the adult National Team from Copa América 2007 on. This has led some fans to write his name as "MAT14S". He currently wears number 14 in Villarreal.
Fernández has a Chilean girlfriend, the couple are expecting their first child.
He has been compared to fellow Chilean David Pizarro.