By 90Min
November 24, 2018

Brighton and Hove Albion forward José Izquierdo has revealed how the tragic death of his older brother Diego Julian inspired him to become a professional footballer.

Izquierdo joined the Seagulls from Club Brugge in the summer of 2017 for a fee of £13.5m and has become a real favourite among the fans, as a result of his hilarious off-pitch antics and his vibrant personality.

However, behind the outgoing exterior of Izquierdo is a passionate and committed individual with a tale of his meteoric rise from a difficult upbringing in Pereira, located at the foothills of the Andes, to the Premier League, which stemmed from the death of his older brother when the striker was a teenager.

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Izquierdo was just 14 years old when his 29-year-old brother Diego Julian was killed in a car accident, an event which caused the Colombian striker to halt his footballing dreams indefinitely.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Izquierdo said: "We had a very close relationship and we loved each other a lot. I believe in God and I have religion. I think he's the angel I have in heaven that takes care of me and is very proud of me and the things I'm doing until now.

"When he passed away I was thinking I will stop football. In four years nothing was changing. In those years there was difficulties and pressure on my mother because the football was not working as you expect so I tried to do another thing."

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Izquierdo insisted that when his brother was alive, he wasn't thinking about football in a serious manner and actually wanted to be an engineer.

"In the beginning I didn't realise I would like to be a football player because my dream when my brother was alive was to be an engineer like him. When my dad got in a crash or anything my brother was always the person who came to help him," he added, "Maybe some people leave this world earlier than other ones. My brother was an inspiration."

While at school, a letter was sent home indicating the introduction of extra-curricular activities for pupils in Pereira. According to the Colombian, the striker initially looked to pursue tennis when his mother came home with a racquet.

"It was funny. There was basketball, tennis, football and I think the other was volleyball," Izquierdo added, "I didn't choose any activity but the next day my mum came into the house with the racquet and everything for tennis."

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However, the former Brugge forward joked that he was more useful with his feet than with his racquet.

"I went to the tennis lessons but I couldn't hit the ball with the racquet. When the ball was coming I would shoot with my feet. I would shoot it hard and the tennis coach came over and said I had to go over to the other pitch to the football coach, who was called Wilson Sepulveda.

"I spoke to him and started to do the football lessons. That is how it started. I played football because I couldn't play tennis."

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