A leader who stood out for his charisma, he made a vital contribution to the club’s most glorious period
Roberto Fabián Ayala made his official debut with Valencia CF 15 years ago this Thursday. It was on 24th September 2000, in a game against CD Numancia that ended in a 0-3 victory for Valencia CF.
Nicknamed ‘El Ratón’ (in English 'The Mouse'), the Argentinian defender stood out for being a quick interceptor, a strong marker and for having with a convincing aerial play. Ayala was always well-placed in the field, a key asset for a center back.
Ayala started his career at the Argentina's Ferro Carril Oeste and moved to River Plate after three campaigns. In the Buenos Aires' side he won his first big title and earned his first call-up for the national team.
In 1995 he signed for Napoli and after three seasons he moved to AC Milan, becoming the club's first Argentinian player in 30 years. In the summer of 2000, after winning his first league title with the Italian side, he joined Valencia CF, where he would stay for a total of seven seasons.
A total of 275 appearances, 268 starts and 23,500 minutes on the pitch. Those are the stunning numbers of who has probably been one of the most successful defenders to ever wear the Valencia CF shirt.
Despite not being among the fastest players, Ayala had the ability to read the game and anticipate the opponent’s play. A leader who stood out for his charisma, he made a vital contribution to the club’s most glorious period. He was an integral part of the legendary side who won two League Cups (2002 and 2002), one one UEFA Cup (2004), European Cup Winners’ Cup (2004) and one Spanish Cup (2008).
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