Mexico's Carlos Vela, left, is an up-and-coming star for Arsenal. ((Bill Kostroun/Associated Press))


Born: March 1, 1989, in Cancun, Mexico

Position: Striker, winger

Nickname: El Bombardero (The Bomber)

Clubs played for: Vela began his pro career with Mexican side Chivas Guadalajara before being sold to Arsenal in 2005. The English Premiership powerhouse couldn't secure their teenaged star a work permit, so they sent him on loan, and Vela spent a season each at Spanish outfits Salamanca and Osasuna before rejoining Arsenal in 2008.

International career: Vela made his debut for Mexico at the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup, helping his country beat Brazil in the final. He scored a tournament-high five goals, and took home the Golden Boot award. Vela debuted for the Mexican senior team in September 2007 in a friendly against Brazil and scored his first goal a month later in an exhibition match against Guatemala.

Why is he so special? Vela's quickness, dribbling ability and versatility (he can play either as a forward or a winger) has seen him earn comparisons to retired Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp.

His most famous moment: Scoring a hat trick in his first start for Arsenal against Sheffield United in an English League Cup game on Sept. 23, 2008.

He said it: "I believe that every match I play for Arsenal is special for me, and I don't really care that much who we play. I just want to win."

What they're saying about him: "Carlos is an outstanding striker - he will be a top goal-scorer and is one of the best finishers I have seen." - Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager

Here's an interesting fact: Vela has become a fan favourite with Arsenal fans, so much so that supporters sing a song in his honour, Jolly Good Vela, a humorous take on For He's a Jolly Good Fellow.