Full Name: Corporación Popular Deportiva Junior
Atlético Junior (also known as Junior Barranquilla) are the flagship of Barranquilla, the most successful football club from Colombia's fourth-largest city and the most successful club in the entire northern region of the country. From humble beginnings in the neighborhoods of San Roque and Rebolo, the Tiburones have grown to fill the enormous Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez. Along the way they've represented Colombia at the Copa América (twice), won five national championships, made several runs deep into the Copa Libertadores and featured a number of the game's greatest stars, most significantly 'El Pibe' Carlos Valderrama. The history of the red, white and blue of Junior is long and proud.
Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez:
The Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez is the largest stadium in Colombia and was built in 1986 as part of Colombia's failed bid to host the World Cup that year. It is officially named for Roberto Melendez (a legendary Colombian footballer from Barranquilla of the 1930s and 1940s). Before moving to the Estadio Metropolitano, Junior played for many years at the Estadio Romelio Martínez, built in 1934 and named for another Barranquillero footballer of the 1930s and 1940s.
In the early 1920s a team named Juventus came into being at the Colegio Salesiano in the San Roque neighborhood of Barranquilla, unsurprisingly given the name made up primarily of Italian immigrants. Soon after its launch the name was changed to the Spanish Juventud, though both translate the same in English - youth. In August 1924 some of the younger members of Juventud along with other young men from San Roque created an offshoot of Juventud - Juventud Infantil, which might translate as baby youth. The story of the first club has long been lost in time but "baby youth" has gone on to become one of Colombia's most famous names.
Two years after its foundation Juventud Infantil entered the third division of the Liga Atlántico, the league for the Atlántico province of Colombia. Two promotions were quickly achieved and the top division of the Liga Atlántico was reached in 1929, coinciding with a changing of the club's name to Juventud Junior. Three years later the Liga Atlántico championship had been won.
As the 1930s rolled into the 1940s (and the club's name was shortened to simply Junior) they became known as one of the country's best clubs. In 1945 the players of Junior were selected to represent Colombia at the South American Championship (now known as the Copa América), finishing a respectable fifth (though losing 7-0 to Uruguay and 9-1 to Argentina along the way). In 1949 they were again selected to represent Colombia (finishing last place) but this time their decision to play would have its consequences.
In 1948 Junior (renamed again to Atlético Junior) were founder members of the professional División Mayor (commonly known as the Dimayor). Their debut match as a professional outfit came at home on August 15, 1948 against Deportivo Cali, which ended in a 2-0 victory for the home side. Early the following year they were again chosen to play as the de facto Colombia national team. Because of ongoing strife between Adefutbol (the original amateur Colombian football association) and the Dimayor, Junior were threatened with expulsion from the Dimayor if they participated. They went ahead and did so and were initially given a two year suspension from the league. This was later reduced to one year and they returned to the Dimayor for the 1950 season.
This was the golden age of Colombian football (always referred to as El Dorado), a time when the Dimayor was a "rebel league" unaffiliated with FIFA and many high-profile players from around the world broke their contracts and came to play. Junior were no exception, picking up players from Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Hungary and the Czech Republic in these years. But El Dorado eventually came to an end for Colombian football and for Junior and the club left the Dimayor because of financial problems after the 1953 season.
Atlético Junior went back to competition in the Liga Atlántico as the city longed for the return of professional football. A way ahead surfaced in the mid-1960s when a rift had again developed in Colombian football, this time between Adefutbol and the newly-created Federación Colombiana de Fútbol, an organization devoted to developing professional football in the country. Adefutbol was still the official body in the eyes of FIFA and organized the national team in this period and additionally Colombian clubs did not enter the Copa Libertadores. Peace was finally made and the bulk of the amateur team that had attempted to qualify for the England World Cup signed up for Junior, who returned to the Dimayor in 1966. Junior have remained in the top level ever since.
In 1977 Junior won their first Colombian championship, finishing first place in the Apertura, last place in their group in the Finalización and then first place in the Final Hexagonal. They won further championships in 1980, 1993, 1995 (a half-season tournament known as the Torneo Nivelación designed to align the Colombian calendar with the European one) and the 2004-II (Finalización). Junior have appeared in the Copa Libertadores nine times (reaching the semifinals in 1994), and the Copa Sudamericana and Copa CONMEBOL once each. Some of the famous names to play for Junior - Garrincha, Juan Ramon Veron, Julio Cesar Uribe and most especially Carlos Valderrama who led the club to their both of their titles in the 1990s.
The red and white striped colors of Atlético Junior's shirt (and logo) are derived from the similarly colored flag of Atlántico province. The five stars of the logo represent the five national championships Junior have won. The nickname Tiburones - Sharks - references their seaside location. And the club seems to use the names Junior, Atlético Junior and Junior Barranquilla pretty much interchangeably.
Atlético Junior v Deportivo Cali, December 2008
Atlético Junior v Deportivo Cali, December 2008
|Last Updated on Saturday, 07 January 2012 22:11|