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2011: Álex Fernández

Published: Monday 1 August 2011, 22.29CET
Midfielder Álex Fernández provided an important yet subtle link between defence and attack in the Spain side that reclaimed the Under-19 title in 2011.
by Paul Bryan
2011: Álex Fernández
Álex in action during the semi-final defeat of Ireland ©Sportsfile
Published: Monday 1 August 2011, 22.29CET

2011: Álex Fernández

Midfielder Álex Fernández provided an important yet subtle link between defence and attack in the Spain side that reclaimed the Under-19 title in 2011.

Located deep in the engine room of a high scoring Spain side that registered 16 tournament goals on their way to an impressive triumph at the 2011 UEFA European Under-19 Championship, midfielder Álex Fernández provided an important yet subtle link between defence and attack.

The Real Madrid CF midfielder arrived in Bucharest having featured in 30 third division games for the club's reserve side Castilla, yet it was his debut appearance for the seniors in a Liga encounter away to Real Racing Club that was to prove the highlight of the domestic campaign. Confident and self-assured, Álex turned out for La Rojita's rescheduled opening group game against ten-man Belgium in Mogosoaia and – despite his slight frame – demonstrated his strong tackling abilities and sharpness of thought to get his side on the front foot in a 4-1 win.

Spain were already three goals to the good against Serbia and cruising towards a place in the semi-finals as section winners when Álex was brought on as a 58th-minute substitute in place of scorer Juanmi in the team's next group game, and he aided an eventual 4-0 success. Seven changes were now made against Turkey and Álex was captain for a surprise 3-0 loss – but it did not dent their confidence.

Three days later the Republic of Ireland were Spain's semi-final opposition and Álex controlled the midfield in a spectacular 5-0 triumph. The Czech Republic posed Spain far more problems in the final and despite performing to his usual high standard, Álex was substituted after 55 minutes with coach Ginés Meléndez seeking to claw back from 1-0 down by opting for a more attacking approach. There was to be little disappointment on the Madrid player's face at the end, however, with the move providing dividends as the Spanish eventually took the title with a 3-2 extra-time win, Paco Alcácer twice on target in the extended period.

Not long after the tournament, Madrid coach José Mourinho paid tribute to Álex's maturity and he opted to use the youngster – along with his brother Nacho – in the 2-1 pre-season Trofeo Santiago Bernabéu victory against Galatasaray AŞ. "Álex will get his chance as he is a kid with a lot of qualities who can help us," Mourinho said.

Last updated: 01/09/11 14.49CET

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