From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 6/2014
Mario Alberto Yepes Díaz
Date of birth:
13 January 1976
Place of birth:
1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)
76x apps / 7x goals
93x apps / 1x goals
76x apps / 6x goals
73x apps / 2x goals
115x apps / 8x goals
63x apps / 1x goals
38x apps / 1x goals
24x apps / 0x goals
100x apps / 6x goals
* (appearances, national team caps and goals correct as of 19 June 2014
Mario Alberto Yepes Díaz, born 13 January 1976, is a Colombian professional footballer who currently plays as a defender for Serie A club Atalanta.
Yepes was well-known for his time in Paris Saint-Germain where he was considered to be one of the best defenders at the time dubbing him as 'Super Mario' before moving to Chievo.
He has also been the captain of the Colombian national team since 2008.
Yepes is one of the last of the original members of the Colombian golden generation during their dying years where they won the 2001 Copa America.
Thus, with the current golden generation, he's played in both the '90s golden generation (that ended in 2002) to the present golden team, along with Faryd Mondragón.
When Mario Yepes started his playing career in 1994 with Cortuluá, he was playing as a forward before Cortulua's coach converted him to a libero (sweeper).
Yepes career really took off after he signed for his home town club Deportivo Cali in 1998.
He won a Colombian championship with Deportivo Cali. He was part of the squad of Copa Libertadores 1999.
In 1999, Yepes joined River Plate in Argentina, where he became a star and won two Argentine Primera championships.
In spite of the fact that several Italian and English clubs wanted to recruit Yepes.
He signed for FC Nantes Atlantique in January 2002 where his nickname was “El Rey”.
After a difficult adaptation to the European style of playing (French in particular,) marked by a very aggressive play uncommon for Nantes (numerous red cards), he slowly adapted to the league.
He became arguably one of the best defenders in the league when his team adopted an unconventional three-defender formation.
Yepes became one the best central defenders of the French first division and joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2004, where his nickname was "Super Mario" as a reference to his defensive abilities and fitness levels.
In 2008, Yepes joined Chievo Verona of Italy. He signed a new contract in summer 2009.
In March 2010, Chievo team-mate, Sergio Pellissier, confirmed that Yepes would join Milan in the summer, when his contract ran out.
On 1 July 2010, Milan delegate administrator Adriano Galliani declared that Yepes is a big player to replace Giuseppe Favalli who became a free agent on the same day.
Yepes got to Milan in the 2010-2011 season but was quickly deployed as a substitute due to the starting centre-back being Thiago Silva. Yepes played few games in the Italian Serie A, but participated in the UEFA Champions League.
Yepes was close to scoring with Milan in the UEFA Champions League match against Tottenham Hotspur, in which he had two clear chances of scoring with a header, but was denied twice by Tottenham keeper Heurelho Gomes.
Yepes scored his first goal for AC Milan on the 23 October 2011, where he finished off a remarkable Milan comeback against U.S. Lecce, scoring the 4th and winning goal for Milan in the 83rd minute to drive Milan to a 4:3 victory, with Kevin-Prince Boateng scoring a hat-trick to level the scores after a 3:0 losing position.
On 12 May 2012, Yepes signed a one-year extension contract with A.C. Milan, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2013.
With barely any appearances, Yepes stated that he would not sign a new contract with the club despite being offered the chance, expressing that he needed more 'guaranteed' playing time in order to better prepare himself for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
He later confirmed that A.C. Milan would not offer him as such and his reason for departure.
Yepes signed a 1-year contact with fellow Serie A club Atalanta to finish his club career before the 2014 FIFA World Cup as well as his retirement.
Yepes has played 100 matches for the Colombian national team since his debut in 1999, making him the third most capped Colombian player of all time, after Leonel Álvarez and Carlos Valderrama.
He was part of the Colombia squad that won the Copa América in 2001.
He was also in the squads for three other editions of the tournament in 1999, 2007 and 2011.
During the team's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, Yepes made 12 appearances as Colombia qualified for its first finals since 1998.
In the final qualifying match, Yepes scored both goals in a 2:1 victory against Paraguay.
Due to his age during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, Yepes expressed his passion for the national team and wanting to retire either after the World Cup qualifiers or during the 2014 World Cup.
José Pékerman promised to meet with his retirement request. On 17 December 2013, Yepes announced that he would retire after the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
On 14 June 2014, Yepes made his first appearance in a FIFA World Cup finals at the age of 38, captaining Colombia to a 3:0 win over Greece in Belo Horizonte.
Yepes is the oldest outfield player at the 2014 World Cup, and the second-oldest overall, after compatriot Faryd Mondragón.
On 19 June 2014, Yepes earned his 100th cap for the Cafeteros in the second group stage match against Côte d'Ivoire.