Cristián Zapata

Cristián Eduardo Zapata Valencia (born 30 September 1986) is a Colombian professional footballer who plays as a defender for Serie A club Genoa. A quick and physically powerful defender, known for his hard marking of opponents and strength in the air, he usually plays as a centre back.[2][3] Although naturally right footed, he can also play as a full-back on either side of the pitch, as he is comfortable with both feet.[2]

Cristián Zapata
Zapata with Colombia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup
Personal information
Full name Cristián Eduardo Zapata Valencia[1]
Date of birth (1986-09-30) 30 September 1986 (age 34)
Place of birth Padilla, Colombia
Height 1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)[1]
Position(s) Centre back
Club information
Current team
Number 2
Youth career
Deportivo Cali
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2004–2005 Deportivo Cali 17 (0)
2005–2011 Udinese 168 (5)
2011–2013 Villarreal 28 (0)
2012–2013Milan (loan) 23 (0)
2013–2019 Milan 88 (3)
2019– Genoa 32 (1)
National team
2007–2019 Colombia 58 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 09:14, 14 June 2021 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 23 July 2019

Zapata began his career in Colombia with Deportivo Cali in 2004, moving to Serie A club Udinese the following year. After spending several seasons with Udinese, Zapata signed for Spanish club Villarreal. In 2012, he returned to Italy, joining Milan. Following the expiration of his contract with the Rossoneri, he joined Serie A counterpart Genoa in 2019.

A Colombian international since 2008, he has represented his nation at the 2011, 2015, 2016, and 2019 editions of the Copa América, as well at the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups.

Club career


Zapata was signed by Udinese on 31 August 2005 from Deportivo Cali, along with team-mate Abel Aguilar. Both of them were scouted by Udinese while playing at the U-20 World Cup. On 18 September 2006, Zapata signed a new five-year contract.[4] That season he started 35 Serie A games.[4] Cristián Zapata employed Claudio Pasqualin (of P.D.P. srl) as his agent on 21 February 2006, but fired him on 9 July 2007. In 2009 the Tribunale Nazionale di Arbitrato per lo Sport awarded Pasqualin eligible to receive €38,900 as agent fee that Zapata owed Pasqualin (5% of annual salary times 2 seasons, 2006–07 and 2007–08).[4]

In October 2007, Zapata along with Andrea Dossena, Roman Eremenko and Simone Pepe was awarded new contracts until June 2012.[5][6] In June 2008, Zapata was injured[7] and missed 6 months. In the 2009–10 season, Zapata usually played as central defender, partnered with Andrea Coda.


After the 2010–11 season, Cristián Zapata claimed that many top European clubs were interested in signing him. He has since stated "I do not know what to say, I can say that I am very close to a deal happening".[citation needed] Zapata signed for Villarreal CF on 12 July 2011. On Wednesday 17 August 2011, in the 2011–12 season, Cristián Zapata made his debut against Udinese in a Champions League qualifier.


In August 2012, Villarreal announced that Zapata had left the club to join Milan on a season-long loan. Zapata made headline news in the Champions league against Spanish giants Barcelona: Milan's opening goal in a 2–0 victory of the first leg involved the ball being deflected on to his hand and landing in front of Kevin-Prince Boateng who scored seconds later. The referee did not judge it an attempted touch of the ball but allowed Boateng's goal to be counted, while Zapata was credited with an 'assist'. The replay showed the ball making contact with his face.[8] In his first Milan derby against Inter Milan, Zapata was praised for his defending and for playing a key role in counter-attacks.[citation needed] In 2013, Zapata signed a contract with Milan until summer 2016.[9][10]

In January 2015, Zapata suffered an injury keeping him sidelined for two months. Upon recovery, he featured as an unused substitute.

On 5 February 2017, Zapata was named as captain in his first league game of the season, a 0–1 home defeat against Sampdoria, due to the absence of team captain Riccardo Montolivo and third captain Mattia De Sciglio because of injuries. Vice-captain Ignazio Abate later appeared in the game as a substitute with Zapata keeping the captain's armband.[11] On 15 April 2017, Zapata scored an equalizer in the Milan derby against Inter Milan at the 97th minute. The match resulted in a 2–2 draw.[12] It was also the first Milan game under the ownership of Rossoneri Sport Investment, headed by Li Yonghong, with Zapata giving away his jersey as a gift to the Chinese entrepreneur soon after the final whistle.[13]

On 17 April 2018 he was confirmed to be vice-captain instead of Giacomo Bonaventura as he kept the armband during the game against S.S.C. Napoli, where captain Leonardo Bonucci was unavailable and Giacomo Bonaventura was playing, he celebrated this news with an outstanding performance with his former Villarreal CF teammate Mateo Musacchio.

Zapata began the 2018–19 season with injury, and was third-choice centre-back behind Musacchio and Alessio Romagnoli. His first appearance of the season came on 4 October, in Milan's second Europa League match, a 3–1 at home to Olympiacos. Zapata started the club's final five matches in Europe, including their final match away to Olympiacos, in which Zapata scored at both ends in the second half, two minutes apart. Milan entered the match three points ahead of Olympiacos, seeking to qualify for the knockout stage alongside Real Betis. Milan were losing 1–0 prior to Zapata's goals; the own goal would have sent Olympiacos through on away goals, and the proper goal would have sent Milan through on aggregate. A late penalty was scored by Kostas Fortounis for Olympiacos, and Milan were eliminated as the 3–1 result held, their first group stage elimination in Europe since 2001.[14]

Zapata's Serie A season debut came on 7 October, at home to Chievo Verona. However, Zapata would not play regularly until Musacchio picked up an injury against Real Betis on 8 November. Musacchio missed five games due to the injury, but did not regain his place in the Serie A team following his return to fitness. Zapata started seven of Milan's final eight Serie A matches in 2018 following Musacchio's injury, and also started the club's Coppa Italia extra-time win over Sampdoria and their Supercoppa Italiana defeat to Juventus in 2019. Zapata's run in the team came to an end as he picked up an injury early in Milan's first Serie A game of 2019, away to Genoa.[15] He would not be named to a match-day squad for two months, and by the time he returned, Musacchio had cemented his place in the back line alongside Romagnoli. Zapata would get two more starts the rest of the campaign, finishing the season with 20 appearances in all competitions as his contract with the club expired.


On 2 July 2019, Zapata signed a two-year contract with Serie A club Genoa on a free transfer.[16] Upon his arrival, he became the first Colombian player to sign for Genoa.[17]

International career

Brazil's Fred competing Colombia's Zapata (in the middle) and Juan Cuadrado for the ball in the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Zapata was a member of Colombian U-20 team that won the 2005 South American Youth Championship and the team that played at 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, who lost to Argentina in the round of 16. Zapata was unavailable in the first 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification match.

In the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification match, Zapata finally got his first spot chance since under new coach Jose Pekerman against South American leaders Argentina. In the 26th minute, while defending the ball inside Colombia's box from Gonzalo Higuaín, Higuain fell to the side while losing balance and kicked the thigh of Zapata in anger. In reaction, Zapata questioned him and kicked him back, resulting in him receiving a red card along with Higuain. Zapata was later criticized for not controlling himself and allowing the referee to give Higuain the red card while simply walking away, which would have allowed Colombia an 11 men advantage over a 10 men Argentina.[18]

In May 2018 he was named in Colombia's preliminary 35-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.[19]

On 30 May 2019, Zapata was included in the 23-man final Colombia squad for the 2019 Copa América.[20]

Personal life

Zapata's aunt Limbaina Zapata was kidnapped on 1 May 2013. The kidnappers demanded $150 million in ransom.[21][22] The following day, the National Police of Colombia located the thieves in Miranda, Cauca, Colombia, and Limbaina Zapata was released with no harm.[21][22]

He is the cousin of fellow professional footballer Duván Zapata.[23][24]

On 7 November 2020 he tested positive for COVID-19.[25]

Career statistics


As of match played 23 May 2021[26]
Club performance League Cup Continental Total
SeasonClubLeague AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals
Colombia League Cup South America Total
Apertura 2005Deportivo CaliPrimera A170170
Italy League Coppa Italia Europe Total
2005–06UdineseSerie A2015040291
Total Udinese 16851601001945
Spain League Copa del Rey Europe Total
2011–12VillarrealLa Liga2802060360
Italy League Coppa Italia Europe Total
2012–13MilanSerie A2301050290
Total Milan 11131102621485
2019–20GenoaSerie A2012000221
Total Genoa 3213000351
Career total 356932042243011


As of 23 July 2019[27]
National teamYearAppsGoals
As of match played 10 November 2017. Colombia score listed first, score column indicates score after each Zapata goal.[27]
International goals by date, venue, cap, opponent, score, result and competition
No. Date Venue Cap Opponent Score Result Competition
1 3 June 2016Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, United States
 United States
Copa América Centenario
2 10 November 2017Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon, South Korea
 South Korea



Colombia U20[26]



  1. "FIFA World Cup Russia 2018: List of Players: Colombia" (PDF). FIFA. 15 July 2018. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 June 2019.
  2. Maurizio Pilloni (28 September 2009). "BEST XI: scegliamo i migliori difensori della storia bianconera" (in Italian). Tutto Udinese. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  3. Monica Valendino (31 December 2016). "Se Pozzo non avesse venduto nessuno…" (in Italian). Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  4. "Avv. Claudio Pasqualin – Sig. Cristian Eduardo Zapata Valencia" (PDF). TNAS of CONI (in Italian). 28 July 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 September 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  5. "Udinese prolunga 4 contratti a 2012" (in Italian). ANSA. 12 October 2007. Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  6. "CALCIO, UDINESE: IN QUATTRO RINNOVANO FINO AL 2012". la Repubblica (in Italian). 12 October 2007. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  7. "Zapata, serio infortunio in Nazionale" (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  8. Milan humbled Barcelona. 21 February 2013. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  9. "AC Milan: Zapata on permanent deal. Juventus: Pirlo could leave". - Tutte le news sul calcio in tempo reale.
  10. "AC Milan sign Zapata on a permanent basis -". 23 May 2013.
  11. "Fixtures and Results - Season 2016-17 - 23^ Match Day - Lega Serie A".
  12. "Fixtures and Results - Season 2016-17 - 32^ Match Day - Lega Serie A".
  13. "Sky - Zapata regala la maglia al presidente Yonghong Li".
  14. "Olympiakos knock out AC Milan in 3-1 Europa League thriller". BBC Sport. 13 December 2018.
  15. Lawrence, Wilfred (22 January 2019). "AC Milan Provide Update on Fitness of Cristian Zapata Following Injury Against Genoa". 90min.
  16. "UFFICIALE: Cristian Zapata è un nuovo difensore del Genoa". Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  18. "Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) -".
  19. Crawford, Stephen (16 May 2018). "Revealed: Every World Cup 2018 squad - 23-man & prliminary lists & when will they be announced?".
  20. "LISTA DE 23 JUGADORES PARA LA COPA AMÉRICA BRASIL 2019" (in Spanish). FCF. 30 May 2019.
  21. Liberan a tía del jugador Cristian Zapata Archived 7 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine (in Spanish). 1 May 2013.
  22. Aunty of AC Milan’s Cristian Zapata kidnapped in Colombia. 1 May 2013.
  23. "Sampdoria-Milan, Cristian Zapata challenges his cousin". 24 September 2017.
  24. "Sampdoria 2–0 AC Milan". BBC Sport. 24 September 2017.
  25. "Nota medica – Cristián Zapata". Genoa. 7 November 2020. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  26. Cristián Zapata at Soccerway
  27. Strack-Zimmermann, Benjamin. "Cristián Zapata". National Football Teams. Retrieved 26 August 2020.