'Feet on the ground, eyes to the sky'
The Blues’ new defender was born Yerry Fernando Mina González on September 23, 1994.
“It was his mother who picked his first name,” his father, Jose Eulises, explained. “We really liked the Tom and Jerry cartoons and that’s where she chose the name, although we decided to use a Y.”
Mina grew up in Guachene, a small sugar-growing town on the outskirts of Cali in the south-west of Colombia.
To help his family make ends meet as a teen, as well as playing football, he got a job carrying produce to and from shops and the local market. It was from this humble background, that his fierce work rate and ambition was formed.
As he succinctly explains: “I always try to keep my feet on the ground and my eyes to the sky.”
Mina the goalie
Football has always been in Yerry Mina’s blood. His father and uncle were both professional goalkeepers, with his dad turning out for Colombian sides such as Sante Fe and Millonarios. Mina’s formative years on the playing field were also spent between the sticks – however it was his father Jose who convinced him to try his luck outfield.
“It is true wanted to be a goalkeeper, but that position demands a lot of sacrifice,” Jose revealed. “I did not want to see my son suffering."
After making the move outfield, Mina shone as central midfielder in his teenage years, before his power, heading ability, strength in the tackle and intelligent positioning saw him develop into a colossal centre-back.
“Both my father and my uncle always advised me, making sure I remained focused, that I didn’t stop thinking about the match and that I stayed motivated,” Mina explained.
Mina’s resolve to make it as a professional footballer was evident from an early age.
He would play for hours on end at the local sports centre and on grass-starved pitches, sometimes even barefoot.
One of his coaches as a youngster, Seifar Aponz, explained his appetite to train was so great that, even on Christmas Day, he was desperate to get out on the pitch. Aponz recalls a 12-year-old Mina and his cousin Camilo Mancilla, who now plays for Colombian top-flight side Envigado, did running exercises, ball work and shooting drills.
"A boy who who thinks about training at that age instead of messing around with his friends can make a different life for himself," he said.
Another of his youth coaches, Diego Dulce, also revealed Mina’s determination set him apart as a young player.
"He was a very humble player, focused, knew what he wanted, and never lost sight of his goals,” he said. “He never settled and always had big ambition.”
Mina’s desire to succeed on the pitch is matched by his devotion to helping out those in need back in Colombia.
At the end of 2016, he launched the Yerry Mina Foundation – a project in his hometown of Guachené which aims to help 2,000 people.
The charity provides educational and recreational activities for the town’s children
“Yerry is a person full of humility,” the mayor of Gauchene, Oliver Caravali, explained. “When he is back home, he goes quietly through the streets, greets everybody, plays his soccer matches and has his foundation so that the boys here will have better ideas for their future.”
Hips don’t lie
When asked about the prospect of linking up with Mina at Everton, fellow summer signing Richarlison couldn’t hide his excitement. “He is a great guy – and is also a great dancer!” he revealed, having became friends with the Colombian when they both played in Brazil.
Mina’s goal celebrations are the stuff of legend in his homeland – and his ‘salsa choke’ routine went global this summer, as he netted three times during the World Cup.
Yerry’s favourite song is by a Colombian artist called Pichi and is called 'Caíste en la trampa'.
He is also said to be a fan of compatriot Shakira and was delighted to get the chance to meet the pop superstar recently….