Jordi Alba is a name you probably never heard of a month ago. The Spanish left back had the type of tournament that young professionals dream of.
Earning a starting spot in the defense only because of Carlos Puyol’s injury, Alba played fantastic throughout the tournament and helped Spain win the EURO 2012 trophy for the second time in arrow. With one assist and scoring the second goal of the final match, he earned a spot on the All-Euro team which was dominated by Spanish players.
Naturally, Jordi Alba is just yet another brilliant talent that has emerged from the legendary Barcelona youth academy. He possesses all the attributes that make a left back great. He has wonderful technical ability, good strength and speed to defend, and that wonderful knack of knowing when to go forward.
Jordi Alba’s professional breakthrough occurred at Valencia FC. Here he had the opportunity to learn from rising Spain stars David Silva, David Villa, and Juan Mata. Although these players eventually left the club to help cover Valencia’s massive debt, Alba became an integral part of the team and formed a wonderful partnership with fellow left back Jeremy Mathieu.
Manager Unai Emery decided to utilize both players as left back and left midfielder this past season. The players would switch back and forth up the pitch which confused oppositions and allowed both players opportunities to go forward while having cover back in defense.
Jordi Alba became successful as did Valencia, who finished “best of the rest” (3rd place behind Barcelona and Real Madrid) in Spain to earn a UEFA Champions League place next season.
Alba also earned himself a spot on the national team and became a fixture in the left back position. EURO 2012 was his coming out party, especially in the final match against Italy. Although an early David Silva goal had given Spain a 1-0 lead, Italy was starting to push forward and look for an equalizer. Alba made what probably was the run of the tournament on a counter-attack, starting from deep within his own half he blazed straight to the Italian goal.
As defenders failed to jump on his run, pass-master Xavi fed the ball right into his path and the rest was history as Alba scored his first national team goal with a classy finish that basically sealed EURO 2012 for Spain.
The 23 year old has made his mark on the international stage and looks set for a fantastic career. For those who dream of their club purchasing this wonderful player, it appears as if everyone was too late. Barcelona quietly closed the transfer of Jordi Alba last week, just before the final. He will add another weapon to the Catalan side opposite right back Dani Alves. Jordi Alba’s rise to prominence will quiet the speculation that Spain may struggle to replace aging players as he is just one of many youngsters who continue to dazzle spectators across the globe.
Nicholas Spiller is a freelance soccer writer and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.