Slow starter now up and running for South Africa

When Carlo Costly steps out onto the pitches of Nelspruit, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein this summer he will be following in the footsteps of his father, Anthony Costly, who played for Honduras at the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain.

“If I can shine as my dad did in Spain, I’ll be a very happy man,” says the 27-year-old striker. “That Honduran side of 1982 made the nation proud and were tremendously unlucky to be eliminated in the opening round.

“My father and the other guys in the team rose to the challenge and did not let themselves be overawed by far more famous opponents. We must, and will, have the same state of mind.

“As in my dad’s day, we’ll concentrate on our strengths: the great spirit in the camp, the organisation coach Reinaldo Rueda has instilled in us, our potential for goals.

“My father was a great player. It’s an honour to have his name. It has a lot of significance for me and will spur me on.”

While defender Anthony Costly served as the alert bank-vault guard, his son only ever wanted to be a safe-cracker up front. Not surprisingly, given his lineage, he never shirks the defensive duties that all forwards have to do these days, but first and foremost he is about the gutsy pursuit of goals, many of which come courtesy of his trusty left foot.

In three years as a full international, Costly already has 14 goals to his name and, crucially, scored six times in the World Cup 2010 qualifiers, including a double in the 3-1 victory over Mexico in San Pedro Sula last year, a victory which most Hondurans regard as the turning point of the campaign.

That win over the region’s top dogs tasted all the sweeter for Costly, who had lived on the southern outskirts of Mexico City for several years, moving there with his mother after her divorce from Anthony and remarriage to a Mexican.

Residing in the borough of Coyoacan – where exiled Soviet revolutionary Leon Trotsky lived until his assassination – the teen cut his footballing teeth with the junior and B teams at Celaya, Morelia, Atlas and Pumas, before heading home to Honduras and joining Platense at 23.

“I have a house in Mexico and have kept in touch with the friends from my childhood,” says Costly. “Mexico is my second country, I can’t deny it. But I will defend the Honduras colours against anyone.”

His excellent displays en route to South Africa stand in complete contrast to his club experiences in recent times. After moving to Polish club GKS Belchatow in 2007, a six-month loan spell at Birmingham City last year did little to enhance his reputation and on returning to Poland he fell from favour and was used exclusively as a sub this season.

With Rueda warning him he could not pick a club misfit, he called it quits in January and concluded a £500,00 move to Romanian club Vaslui.

“I’ll break my back to make the best of my opportunities at Vaslui,” says Costly.

“The only one who can stop me representing Honduras at the World Cup is me.”