Deacon Spotlight: Cristian Escribano


Sophomore Cristian Escribano played 90 or more minutes in five games last year.

Christina Denovio, Sports Editor

A sophomore from Frisco, Texas, Cristian Escribano has established himself as a crucial piece of the Wake Forest men’s soccer team’s defense. Escribano made his first appearance on Sept. 25, 2020, in a 3-1 victory over Louisville. A week later, he made his first career start in a match against NC State. Throughout his freshman season, Escribano played in 14 games and saw 1,021 minutes of playing time. Rated as the No. 12 recruit from Texas, Escribano played for FC Dallas’ U-17 Academy as a sophomore, and then with the USL side North Texas FC his senior year.

Though he is not able to play this fall due to a torn ACL, Escribano is taking the opportunity to learn from the sidelines and has stayed focused on his career back from injury.

Christina DeNovio: How did you get into soccer?

Cristian Escribano: I was born in Spain, and soccer is pretty big there. Also, my dad loves soccer, so he had me start playing at the age of two. I’ve been playing it ever since. It’s always been my favorite sport. I played some other sports in elementary school and middle school, but soccer has always just been my thing. It’s what I excelled at. I’d say it’s my passion.

CD: Can you discuss your time with the FC Dallas’ U-17 Academy and then the USL side North Texas FC?

CE: I had played with FC Dallas since I was about five, and I joined the academy when I was in seventh grade. The academy has some of the top players in the area. It was a good experience to play with those top players because it was such a competitive environment. The coaches were great as well. Some coaches I’ve had ended up coaching the first team at FC Dallas, so it was amazing to learn from them. I made a lot of good connections with players and coaches. And since we have those coaches there, we always had the opportunity to get pulled up, whether it was with North Texas or the USL team, or even the first FC Dallas team.

The summer before I came here, I had the chance to practice and play with the USL team, North Texas FC, and that was a great experience, too. There were great guys to play with, good coaching too. It was a good level, and I learned a lot from it. Also, it was nice to play in the stadium — that was my first time playing in the FC Dallas stadium.

CD: What made you choose Wake Forest?

CE: I was deciding between Duke, SMU and Wake Forest as my top-three choices. I picked Wake Forest mainly because of my visit. I just really liked the guys — I felt like I connected well with them as well as with the coaches. They just seemed like they cared about their players a lot, and obviously, that’s something you want as a player, for your coach to want the best for you.

I would say another reason that I chose Wake over Duke or SMU was because of the playing style. Everyone plays soccer in their own way, but I feel like, here, we have a good identity. We move the ball and build out of the back instead of just kicking it and going long. We have crafty players that are technical and good on the ball. They’re true soccer players, not just big athletes. Wake Forest is a great place to be and to develop as a player.

CD: You had a lot of playing time your freshman year and started seven times. What was it like to see so much playing time so early?

CE: It was a great experience — it was amazing. I didn’t really expect to come in and play a whole lot freshman year. But, I came in with a strong work ethic and I guess the coaches saw something. I was fortunate to be able to get on the field for my first game against Louisville — they have a great stadium, and lots of fans came out. It was during COVID-time, so it wasn’t as busy, but even so, that experience was great.

I played in my first college soccer game, and then I was in the starting lineup the next week, which was so amazing. It was a crazy feeling and completely unexpected. I remember how great it was to be out there playing, and I was very fortunate to have been in the starting lineup so early on.

CD: How do you prepare leading up to the game when you’re about to go on the field?

CE: Well, we have a lot of practice and regeneration before games, especially because of our schedules, we’re playing about two games a week. I personally don’t have any pregame rituals. As a team, we all listen to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” before the game in the locker room. That’s always fun, going in there after warming up on the field and then coming back to the locker room, knowing that song is about to come on. Everyone’s singing it and getting hyped for the game.

CD: Did you have a favorite player growing up?

CE: I used to play in the midfield, and my favorite player was always Andrés Iniesta. I just thought he was amazing, and that no one else was like him. I was so impressed by his vision and his touch along with his technique. I just thought he was the whole package as a player.

For outside back, I’ve always loved Marcelo. Growing up in Madrid with my dad — a Real Madrid fan — I was always watching him play. He’s another amazing player, super technical, great game intelligence, high soccer IQ. Those were some really good role models growing up.

CD: In the same vein of people who inspired you, is there anyone in your life who pushed you to pursue soccer at such a high level?

CE: Without a doubt, I would say my dad, because he first got me into the sport. Every single day, he would take me out into the backyard and practice there with me. So, he’s always been pushing me to do my best and he’s put in so many hours encouraging me to play soccer — whether it was out there doing fieldwork, extra practice or showing me how to take care of my body. I have to give him thanks because, not only has he taken me to practice a countless number of times, but he also put in so much work with me day-in and day-out from my elementary years all the way through high school. He definitely helped me to get to where I am now.

CD: Can you talk about why you’re not playing this season?

CE: In the spring semester, during the Notre Dame game, I got tackled and tore my ACL, though I didn’t find out right away. When we looked back at the tape, I went down to the ground, and was in a lot of pain. Nico Benalcazar, who was right center back at the time, came over and just yanked me up off the ground, and I guess that kind of got my mind off of it pretty quick, so I ended up finishing out that game. Then I played the next weekend, I believe it was a match against Louisville. I also practiced during that week. Then, I found out the following Thursday that I had torn my ACL.

Obviously, that was rough to hear, especially since I had not only finished the Notre Dame game, but then played the Louisville game. It was kind of hard to believe because I thought ‘I have a torn ACL and I’m able to play.’ That was rough to deal with, but it’s been a learning experience. I’ve learned a lot from it, like the importance of dedication and hard work.

Also, being out from the game, obviously, it’s hard to just watch, but I’m learning from the sidelines. At the end of the day, being out just shows you how much you care about the game, how much you miss it.

CD: What is your favorite activity to do with your teammates apart from playing soccer?

CE: Maybe just hanging out. Also, going to eat. We go to Cugino Forno sometimes together as a team, or just a big group of us. It’s always fun to get out and do something else — still as a team just away from the field — because we spend so much time playing and practicing.

CD: How is playing here at Wake Forest different from the teams you played with in high school?

CE: I would say the Academy and the college team are somewhat similar in a way just because we play at a similar level for our respective ages. Both are super competitive. Playing in college, particularly at Wake, a lot of the players are extremely committed to the game and trying to make this a career, to make a life out of this. In college, there’s just that fire inside the players. Everyone’s so talented here at Wake, and everyone’s wanting to make it to the next level. It was similar in Dallas, but I would just say everyone on the team here is wanting to make it even more. It’s good as a player to be in that type of environment.

CD: Do you have aspirations of playing professionally?

CE: Yeah, it has always been my goal ever since I was a little kid. I remember every homework assignment in elementary school when it asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would always say “soccer player.” And I still have that same goal.

Ideally, if I could, I would play in Europe, as soccer players that’s the goal for most of us. They have a great level over there. I’m out right now with my ACL, so I’m just taking it step by step. I’m just focused on getting back, and then I guess we’ll see how it goes from there.

CD: What classes have you enjoyed so far? Do you know what your major will be?

CE: Right now, I’m trying to get into the business school. If I get in, I’m planning on studying finance.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and brevity.