Juan Jose Perea is no ordinary new signing. The Colombian and VfB Stuttgart share a special history.
When footballers talk about the fact that they always wanted to play for their new club after a transfer, or perhaps even the image of the bed linen that they allegedly slept in as children is used, many fans are now skeptical.
Football has changed too much, away from club loyalty and towards the search for the next high salary. If you overwhelm your club with too many declarations of love, it can quickly fall on your feet later.
It’s a little different with Juan Jose Perea. The Colombian moved to VfB Stuttgart from Greek club PAS Giannina a few weeks ago and has made two brief appearances for the Swabians since then.
A relationship with the Stuttgarters that existed before the transfer cannot be seen at first glance. But Perea and his new club have a special story in common.
Stuttgart’s newcomer Perea: First visit to the stadium at the age of nine
This story has with Perea’s uncle Dr. Abigail Perea to do. He came to Ludwigsburg a few years ago through his wife and is now sports coordinator at nearby VfB Tamm. His nephew “Juan-Jo”, as he calls him, got his first impression of Germany – and of VfB Stuttgart – at a young age. “He got on the plane all by himself when he was nine and flew here from Bogota. He spent three months here with us in Ludwigsburg and we went to a VfB game,” Uncle Perea recalled.
So there he was, little Juan, showing himself to the Mercedes-Benz Arena wrapped up thickly in a winter jacket and hat, with a VfB scarf around his neck. “It was a great experience to come to a country as beautiful as Germany for the first time,” recalled the 22-year-old a few weeks ago during his new club’s training camp. And the winter in Germany brought Perea closer to something other than German football. “It never snows in Colombia. It was the first snow I’ve seen,” he said with a smile SWR.
After that, Europe would not let him go, at the age of 14 he came to the academy of RB Salzburg. He also trained there under the later Bundesliga coach Marco Rose, who, according to his uncle, had already promised Perea a professional career. In 2018 he switched to the FC Porto U19s, but things didn’t go as planned. This was followed by a move to Panathinaikos Athens, then a loan to Volos NPS and a transfer to Giannina. There, the striker scored ten goals and three assists in 32 games last season.
Juan Jose Perea: Stuttgart paid more than two million euros
Now, of all people, VfB Stuttgart struck, the club whose scarf Perea once wore around his neck on his first visit to a stadium in Europe. The Bundesliga club transferred more than two million euros to free Perea. “Greece is always on the list, there are always a few good guys there,” said VfB sporting director Sven Mislintat. Mislintat also brought Konstantinos Mavropanos from Giannina to Arsenal, and now the Greek also plays in Stuttgart.
It remains to be seen whether the kitschy-beautiful story will also take a sporty course. The first Colombian in the Stuttgart club’s history will need time to adjust to the Bundesliga, although his shirt number ’11’ already indicates a certain status. He definitely has what it takes to be a crowd pleaser. Because you don’t just believe his love for the club in childhood – he can even document it in pictures.