Traditionally a fine producer of quality goalkeepers, Spain’s abundance of talent between the posts helps explain why Victor Valdes, vastly successful at club level, has only won 13 senior caps for his country. FC Barcelona’s first-choice for the past nine seasons, in five of those campaigns he has won the Zamora award given to the keeper who has conceded fewest goals in La Liga.

 

Valdes’ full debut with La Roja came in the build-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, a tournament he attended as third-choice keeper without making an appearance. His first competitive outing came in a qualifier for UEFA EURO 2012, a tournament he would subsequently win, again without playing at the finals.

 

However, an injury to Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas opened the door to Valdes for the vital Brazil 2014 qualifier against France in Paris in March 2013. The Catalan custodian rose magnificently to the challenge, playing a full role in a 1-0 win that put Spain back on top of their group and in the process staking a weighty claim as the No1 alternative to San Iker (Saint Iker).

 

In January 2013, the 31-year-old shotstopper made the suprising announcement that, having won every available club trophy with Barça, he intends to seek a fresh challenge and will not be renewing his contract (which ends in June 2014).