Many players caught the eye of many during the recent European championships, but there was one player that vividly stood out from the rest, being Spain's left-back Jordi Alba. Alba impressed during the tournament and caused FC Barcelona to snap up the whizkid. He has the potential to be a world-beater.
After starting his career off at local side Hospitalet, Alba took his development a step further by moving to Spanish Giants FC Barcelona, he spent 7 years in the academy at Barca, before eventually being released by the Catalans. The 23-year-old then moved to Cornella, a side playing in the fourth tier of Spanish Football. Alba never got any first team action whilst at Cornella but recieved call ups to the Spanish u-19's national team and made 6 appearances, scoring once. If he was to find a way of making a name for himself in football, he would have to progress to a different standard of football. So Alba departed to Valencia in a 6,000 deal. This is where Alba really began to flourish.
Alba spent the first year of his football education at Valencia in the reserves, he played a vital role in the club's promotion to the Spanish Football third divison, playing 18 times and racking up 5 goals. The next season saw Alba correctly rewarded for his display's for Valencia B,as he was sent on loan to experience regular first team action. Alba featured on a regular basis for Gimnastic, he made 35 appearances, 24 of which were starting spots. Season by season the Spaniard was continuing to improve and develop.
He continued to progress and push his way into the first team picture at Valencia, earning a first La Liga start in september in a fixture against Real Valladollid. The Next major achievement in Alba's career was when he was handed 2 consecutive Europa League starts by Unai Emery. During the 2009/10 season Valencia were hit by a string of unfortunate injuries and Alba slotted in a left-back, he was prodimantly a left-midfielder but he looked solid in the left-side defence and it appeared he had the potential to become a full-back rather than a midfielder. Whilst playing at left-back Alba netted his first goal for the club in April 2010.
The Following season saw Alba cement his position in Los Che's starting 11, he fought for the left-back position with french defender Jeremy Mathieu and managed to feature 27 times in League games for Valencia. The 2011/12 was the season where Alba really grabbed everyone's attention, he occupied in a role down the left-flank alongside Mathieu, it proved to be a great partnership between the two as the were both able to swap and change roles in attack and defence. It wasn't just at club level where Alba excelled, he became the long-term successor to Joan Capdevilla in Vicente Del Bosque's Spain side. He recieved his first call-ups in September 2011, being named in the Spain squad for the Euro 2012 qualifying matches against Czech Republic and Scotland and then earning his debut for his country in a fixture against Alicante, providing an assist for David Silva in a 3-1 victory. Alba completely made the left-back position his own for La Roja and was selected for the Euro 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine. Alba started all the games in Spain's route to the final and then began the final against Italy, scoring a beautiful goal. Collecting the ball from his own half, playing the ball inside to Spain midfield master Xavi, who then fed a lovely ball back through to Alba, who latched on, raced away from the Italian defence and calmy stroked past Buffon in the Italian goal. He was then named in the Uefa Euro 2012 team of the tournament and judging by his terrific performances, it was rightly so.
At Just 23 he has the potential to become a football great, he is a very attacking minded full-back full of endless energy and blistering pace. But we shouldn't forget that he is also very calm and assured defensively and that his reading of the game is excellent. Alba has many years ahead of him and will only get better, by moving to Barcelona, he can only improve and shape into one of the greatest left-backs that the world has ever seen. Jordi Alba is the next big thing.