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Gonzalo living large with AEK Larnaca

Gonzalo García played alongside Andrés Iniesta and Fernando Torres as a youngster and is now showcasing his talents in Europe with an AEK Larnaca FC side with "a lot of potential".

Gonzalo García in action in AEK's 8-0 win at Floriana
Gonzalo García in action in AEK's 8-0 win at Floriana ©Domenic Aquilina

Gonzalo García once played alongside Andrés Iniesta, José Antonio Reyes and Fernando Torres in Spain's Under-17 side, but is now looking for more UEFA Europa League glory at AEK Larnaca FC.

The 27-year-old captured headlines with the first hat-trick of this season's competition in an 8-0 second qualifying round first-leg win at Floriana FC, but the one-time Real Madrid CF trainee was happy to share the limelight with his new team-mates as he spoke to UEFA.com.

"It was a great start to the season both for me personally and the entire team," said Gonzalo. "We have a very good team this year and I hope we can continue the way we started. Of course, I was delighted with my debut and the hat-trick I scored in Malta, but the most important thing was for my team to win."

The Uruguayan-born attacking midfielder started his professional career in Spain, representing lower-league sides AD Alcorcón, CF Palencia and Mérida UD before trying his luck in the Netherlands with spells at AGOVV Apeldoorn (where he scored 16 goals in 2005/06), SC Heerenveen, Heracles Almelo, FC Groningen and VVV-Venlo.

"I played in the Dutch first division for a long time but last year, I didn't feel so good there," he noted. "I needed a change in my life and career. I was then offered the opportunity to come to Cyprus and play for AEK. I came here and liked what I saw. I was very impressed with the club so I decided to move here."

Dutch coach Ton Caanen and general manager Jordi Cruyff – who worked together at Valletta FC - are determined to transform AEK into a top side in Cyprus, and will look to further enhance their reputation as FK Mladá Boleslav visit in the third qualifying round this week.

"The team functions very professionally and the atmosphere is great," said Gonzalo. "It is very important for me that the club wants to grow and I believe we have a lot of potential. I am very confident that we can have a good season and reach all of our targets."

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