He came to football at the age of 25, was selected and after his retirement surprised with ventures

In 2017, and acting for Antofagasta, Gonzalo Barriga chose to leave football. It was a little over a decade of experience, which began in a very u

In 2017, and acting for Antofagasta, Gonzalo Barriga chose to leave football. It was a little over a decade of experience, which began in a very unique way: at the age of 25 and already a graduate in Human Resources Engineering, he joined the Melipilla squad, in Primera B, beginning his cycle in professionalism. Directed by Eduardo Berizzo, the brand new DT of La Roja, in 2013 the former winger and left midfielder won the first title in history with O’Higgins and finally chose to stay and live in Rancagua, the city from which he talks with AS to address his stage away from football.

“I work independently, I am with my brother starting to build our tourism company, which had a bad time from 2019 to today. In addition to that, we have a fiberglass pool installation company and garden beautification for the pool. In the last summer season, we did well. We could have done more work, but we chose to do it with the greatest possible professionalism, which is the hallmark of our work. Now, we are full on the topic of tourism and waiting for the pool season to reopen, when the seasons change. This gives me time to be with my children, to take them to the garden, to school, to enjoy the family”, says Barriga.

– Once you retired, was your interest in creating enterprises or working on your professional career?

– The idea was, through the studies that life gave me, to try to find an enterprise that would generate a common, simple, calm job. I don’t want to get rich or anything like that, I want to live in peace, and if this works out, great. In the event that it doesn’t work out, because one never knows the turns of life, go back to my own thing, look for a job in an office, do collaborations, consultancies. I am calm today, football treated me well and I was also measured. Now, I have a period of three years from now to see how the issue of tourism and also that of the swimming pool is improving. Otherwise, start working like an ordinary wild person.

– What is your tourist offer in the Rancagua area?

– Look we work regularly visits to the vineyards. We also make visits to Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, we also include skiing, adventure tourism. Our strength is working with Brazilians and foreigners, but now we are opening the possibility of reaching the national client. We want to give them the possibility that they can tour the south of Chile at a good price or they can go to Mendoza and see the vineyards there. We have contacts with foreign agents who offer good discounts to our clients.

Barriga, fourth from left to right, with Gustavo Quinteros' coaching staff before a visit to a vineyard.


Barriga, fourth from left to right, with Gustavo Quinteros’ coaching staff before a visit to a vineyard.

– Keep playing? In the O’Higgins Region there are many former soccer players who participate in local associations.

– Yes, there is a lot of football here and the best of all is that there are many natural grass fields, which has been lost a lot in Santiago. I play with a group of friends who have a club, they are very respectful, most of them are O’Higgins fans, there is a lot of affection in between. I’ve been invited to play championships or in some leagues, but I prefer to enjoy football, not commit to anyone because of money or things like that. I prefer to enjoy it as if I were playing with friends. The boys’ club is José Olivares, the JO, they are very good people.

– Would you like to work in football again? As a coach or in the management part following your studies.

– Look, if I have the time, at some point, I would like to study to be a coach, but to do something related to children. Perhaps work in schools, helping children with limited resources, in municipal schools. Or what I have also thought at some point is to give motivational talks. Related to the boys when they face their first employment contract, to see football in a more focused way and not get – as they say – little birds in their heads. At 18, everyone already believes they are Cristiano Ronaldo. Sometimes you have to burn a stage, like Alexis Sánchez, who first played in Cobreloa, then went to Colo Colo, from there he went to River Plate and now he is Alexis Sánchez, the great player that we all recognize. But before he had to burn stages, like Charles Aránguiz, (Arturo) Vidal, all those figures that we know. The boys have to understand that there is a process and there are very few cases like (Mauricio) Isla that leaves from Católica to Italy. I would like to do motivational talks about that.

“From the morning I worked in an office and at night I went to study.”

Gonzalo Barriga

– What evaluation do you make of your career?

– I am totally grateful for football, I think I retired at the right time. It was for personal, family issues. It was the best decision I’ve ever made, because now I have more time to spend with my children, enjoy their growth, there are the two little ones. I am not missing the stage that, everyone tells me, “take advantage, you have the opportunity to enjoy it, do it”. I don’t really regret it, I do miss training every day. But I think it was a cycle that has already been completed and now we have to give space to the youngest, so that they also have the opportunity to develop.

– Looking back, the most important milestones are the national title with O’Higgins and some calls to the Chilean National Team?

– I owe important things to each club I was in. With La Calera go up to the First Division after 25 years and immediately reach a semifinal in the First Division Championship. Later with Unión Española play Copa Libertadores, against Boca Juniors in the round of 16. Of course, being champion with O’Higgins, fulfilling my dream of being a national team player like every footballer wants. In (Santiago) Wanderers have a historic campaign that until the 88th minute was lost, because the U won and achieved the title. I lost a final with Unión (against Huachipato) on penalties, we lost another final here with O’Higgins against U. de Conce. I also played the Copa Sudamericana, another Libertadores. The truth is that there are many milestones, but Eduardo (Berizzo) marked my career a lot because of the way he worked, because of his person and because he helped me to have the possibility of being in the National Team. Fulfill that dream that every player wants.

Belly in the formation of the Rancagua JO.


Belly in the formation of the Rancagua JO.

– These are important achievements for a player who came to football somewhat surprisingly. You joined the activity at the age of 25, without having gone through young football either.

– No, I didn’t go through cadets. Once I tried myself in Colo Colo, I stayed, but I didn’t have the chance to continue. Over time I was given the opportunity to try myself (in professionalism) at the age of 25. It went well for me, they offered me a contract and that’s how my career at Melipilla began.

– How was that? Suddenly he became a professional soccer player with all that this implies in terms of personal care, food, breaks, training routines.

– I still remember that I was a little nervous, but I had all the support of my family, my friends, my friends who played professional football. They told me that I had all the conditions to play. They told me “just throw yourself in the pool, in the worst case you are going to lose a year and then you go back to your thing. You have a job, you have a degree, it will not cost you anything to find a job”. So, I played it, it wasn’t hard for me, neither physically because she was a person who has always loved training. In addition, I had the advice of former footballers, friends of mine. They told me “look, train this way. Do this, because in football running is different than knowing how to run. They are short, explosive stretches”. I was able to prepare myself in a good way and I think that also helped me a lot.

– What did you do at that time apart from playing as an amateur?

– I worked and studied. From the morning I worked in an office and at night I went to study. That was my routine for five years until I got to professional football.