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Name: Álvaro Domínguez
Club: Club Atlético de Madrid
Debut: 22/10/08 v Liverpool FC (UEFA Champions League)
Date of birth: 16/05/89
Álvaro Domínguez is quietly earning a growing reputation as a focused central defender with the ability to carry the ball forward. Famed for his on-field silence, the Atlético youth product has recovered from the blow of being let go by Real Madrid CF as a 12-year-old, a moment he admitted "felt like the end of the world".
Left-footed, Domínguez may have failed to make the grade as a full-back at Madrid but he was quickly picked up by Los Merengues' city rivals, who spotted a talent they were confident they could develop. A switch from the left side of defence into the centre proved inspired – from that moment the Madrid-born youngster has excelled.
Domínguez was given his first-team break under Javier Aguirre in a UEFA Champions League game against Liverpool FC in 2008/09. The Spanish Under-21 international drifted in and out of the side until the arrival of coach Quique Sánchez Flores last October, and in his 42 appearances for the team since, the lifelong Atlético fan has played a crucial role helping Los Colchoneros triumph in the UEFA Europa League final and reach Wednesday's Copa del Rey showpiece.
Club Atlético de Madrid 1-1 Liverpool FC
22/10/08 UEFA Champions League
Having seen his side lose to a last-minute Gonzalo Higuaín penalty against Madrid days earlier, Aguirre decided a change was required to his back line for the visit of Liverpool. Tomáš Ujfaluši was inured so Domínguez started and despite visiting attacker Robbie Keane scoring for Rafael Benítez's side early on, the then 19-year-old put in a solid display as his side earned a 1-1 draw thanks to Simão's late strike.
People continue to talk up the youth system at FC Barcelona and rightly so, but at Atleti there are young players who are just as good."
"Left-footed players are few and far between so when a good one comes along we tend to attract a lot of attention."
"I regularly watch the English Premier League and rarely miss a match that [Chelsea FC's] John Terry plays. I exchanged shirts with him when we played at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season and I keep it as a treasured item at home."
"What most struck us about him when he arrived in his school uniform was his prudence and serious nature; he seemed extremely responsible for his age. I'm certain those characteristics helped him make it."
Atlético youth coach José María Rico
"Álvaro has made huge strides because he's someone who is constantly looking to learn."
Atlético C-team coach Alejandro Sánchez, who first moved Domínguez into central defence
"We are very satisfied with [Álvaro's] performances and his fitness but it's simple: all of the players have obligations and on-field rules to abide by."
Quique Sánchez Flores explains his decision to substitute Domínguez early in a 2-1 Liga defeat by Villarreal CF last month after the youngster failed to defend the set piece that led to his side going 1-0 behind
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