By Louis Smith.
On October 29, 2022, Paraguayan teenager Julio Ensico achieved the dream of many aspiring footballers across the globe as he came onto the pitch for his first taste of Premier League football during Brighton’s 4-1 battering of Chelsea at the Amex Stadium.
Enciso had made his official debut for the Sussex club in the EFL Cup against Forest Green in August of the same year.
Growing up in Caaguazú, a city known for its sawmills, is where the talented attacker made his first venture into football, by joining the local side in the area.
“My first memories were at the Carlos A Lopez club, where my dad took me in,” Julio Enciso tells WFi. “I had a great time training with my teammates at that time, these are my earliest memories of playing football.”
Roberto Paredes, técnico: “Cada vez que íbamos a Caaguazú nos hablaban de Julio Enciso. A los 13 años lo trajimos a #Libertad. Cuando eso era gordito y la mamá nos contó que era porque le gustaba mucho la tortilla” #730AM #CardinalDeportivo pic.twitter.com/aakK6ttY37
— Bruno Pont (@BrunoPont) June 8, 2022
In the off-season, Enciso takes time to return to where it all began and accepts the invitation to participate in a football match, as well as signing a few shirts, giving the local children everlasting memories.
Many people at the club realized his talents from a young age and it wouldn’t be long before Enciso left the ‘Capital of wood’ for Paraguay’s capital, Asuncion, when he joined Club Libertad at the age of just 11.
After impressing the club scouts at Libertad whilst playing in the club’s youth sides the then manager, José Chamot, called Enciso up to the first team, where he would make his debut in a 4-1 victory over Deportivo Santaní.
Not only was this a proud moment for him but a record-breaking feat as he became Libertad’s youngest-ever player and of course, big things were expected.
Enciso went on to make two further appearances that year for the first team and a year later he had eight matches under his belt and scored his first senior goal in a 3-0 win over San Lorenzo.
He was now becoming a regular in the Libertad first team, and with each game came better performances and more eyes started to open.
The 2021 Apertura would be the key season for the Paraguayan teenager as he spearheaded Libertad to the title, forming a formidable partnership with veteran forward and ex-Benfica man Oscar Cardozo.
Enciso’s work rate off the ball and threat when he had it, allowed space and extra time for Cardozo who racked up nine goals in their title charge.
Durante sus últimas vacaciones, Enciso y Tacuara Cardozo estuvieron por Caaguazú, y compartieron un partido de fútbol con el club local.@Universo970py. pic.twitter.com/SpCh5TaQIj
— Juan Coronel (@juanracoronelpy) May 19, 2022
His performances earned him a call-up to the Paraguay squad for the 2021 Copa America where he made his debut in a 3-1 victory over Bolivia.
After a lengthy spell with a knee injury, Julio came back eager and hungry for success, which showed immediately on the pitch.
In his final year at Libertad, Enciso was not only providing for his teammates but scoring them too, as he notched up 11 goals in 14 matches.
“I had my debut in first division with Libertad, I was very happy I felt very good to do this,” adds Enciso. “Thank God I was able to fulfil that dream.
“I was very happy to win multiple trophies with Libertad. The tournament was spectacular, and we enjoyed the celebrations after with family, teammates and the Libertad fans.
“Then making my International debut for Paraguay was something unique and inexplicable.”
A year after making his international debut, another dream would become a reality for Enciso who was signed by premier league club Brighton in the summer of 2022.
So far, he’s played nine times, providing one assist for the club’s first team and will certainly be one to watch out for in the coming years.
He has the perfect surroundings at Brighton to help him settle in with fellow South Americans Alexis Mac Allister, Jeremy Sarmiento, Moisés Caicedo and Pervis Estupiñán — some of whom have already trodden the path that Enciso is starting on.
Knowing there are people from similar backgrounds who speak the same language makes it the perfect environment for the teenager to thrive.
“When I signed for Brighton, It was a dream come true,” he says. “To come to Europe, my goal was that and my dream also thanks to God I was able to achieve it.
“I feel very good in Brighton every day I am learning and improving.”