The Ecuador player whose dad walked 12 hours to face Australia at World Cup


Former Ecuadorian footballer Silvano Estacio incredibly walked 12 hours to allow his son to face the Joeys in their FIFA Under-17 World Cup opener on Sunday morning (AEDT).

This story is reminiscent of a movie - one of drama, with a happy ending, after two hours of trouble, obstacles and challenges on the big screen.

While it could end up as a movie, right now it is just an amazing football story, around a fantastic set up of young players that could end up being the next Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

It starts with 37-year-old, ex-professional player Silvano, who's former clubs include Ecuadorian giants Emelec, despite never playing for the national team.

But his son, Silvano Denilson Estacio Mina, 17, was on the verge of realising a dream.

Silvano Senior, who added Denilson to his son's name after the Brazilian 2002 World Cup winner, was famous for his dribbling and talent as a striker.

And just last year, Silvano Junior was the best scorer in Ecuador while playing for Emelec in the capital Quito.

However, just a day before Ecuador was due to depart for the U-17 World Cup, the local National Football Federation found out that Silvano Junior was on the list but had no permission to fly as a minor.

Immediately after finding out the news, Silvano Senior wanted to fly to Quito - located 156 kilometres away - to sign the necessary documents.

But due to public unrest in Ecuador, the airports were shut down and strikes were affecting the bus drivers.

When Silvano Senior finally got a hold of a car, offered by a friend, he received the worst news of the day - road blocks were all over the highway.

There was essentially only one method of transport left.

He decided to take his motorcycle, and leave the small village on the outskirts of Ambato, and try to face the roadblocks on the highway. 

At Latacunga, 45 kilometres after leaving Ambato, Silvano Senior was not allowed to go through due to the roadblocks.

He then left his motorcycle by the roadside, and started walking.

All together, it took Silvano 28 hours to reach Quito. 12 hours of those, while solely walking. 

Dry lands, mountains and also the famous 'paramo', a desert landscape common in the South American Andes - but all obstacles weren't enough to make him give up on his son.

Silvano Estacio

There were tears of joy once he reached the offices of the Football Federation in Quito.

Once all documents were signed, Silvano Junior was eligible to face Australia and his father's expenses were paid by the local federation, who flew him home.

While he only came on as an 86th-minute substitute against the Joeys, he helped Ecuador hold on for an important 2-1 win.

"These seven minutes (including three as a substitute) were the most important of all my life", Silvano Junior said in tears after the game.

Football is sometimes, in South America, more important than life.