Forward Madison has re-signed a star player from its first two seasons. confirming the return of fullback Christian “Pato” Díaz for 2021. Díaz, 29, is the only Flamingo to have ever been named in the All-USL League One First Team, earning the distinction in 2019.
“Ever since the first year, I knew I wanted to be here,” Díaz said. “I love the city, I love the club and I love the fans. When I spoke to the coaches about coming back, it didn’t take long. I knew what I wanted and I’m excited to be back.”
Díaz played in all but one of Forward Madison’s games in 2020, starting primarily as a right back. Perhaps his most memorable moment came on October 14, when he scored an 85th minute equalizer to complete a 2-2 comeback draw against Fort Lauderdale CF.
According to Head Coach Carl Craig, Díaz will serve as an important veteran presence for a relatively young team.
“Christian has experience at the top level, he’s a very accomplished footballer and by all accounts he’s a first-class guy in the locker room,” Craig said. “At his full potential, he can be one of the outstanding players in this league, both as an attacker and as a defender.
Díaz, who was born in Guadalajara but grew up in California, played at the highest level of Mexican soccer for both Atlas FC - where he made his Liga MX debut at age 17 - and Leones Negros. After signing with Forward Madison in 2019, Díaz established himself as one of the top players in League One, training with Major League Soccer’s LAFC and Chicago Fire before the pandemic.
As he heads into his third season with the Flamingos, though, Díaz said he still has unfinished business to accomplish in Madison.
“For me, it’s always been the same: We want to win a championship,” Díaz said. “I’m at the age where I need to start taking care of myself more, so I’m trying to do my best to help out. With the young players coming in, I want to be the type of teammate that can help others. I like to go step by step, but the end goal is to get the trophy.”