Diamond Guiza right on cue
© AFP

Being in the right place at the right time is a quality all good strikers must possess, and it is one that Dani Guiza has in spades. The leading scorer in the Primera Division with 27 goals, the Mallorca sharpshooter now has his sights on a successful UEFA European Championship with Spain.

The 27-year-old hitman heads to Austria and Switzerland in the form of his life, having blown away the competition in the race for the Spanish Pichichi (top scorer) award. Nor was Guiza's tally embellished by free kicks or penalties, and it is this unerring eye for an opportunity that La Selección will need to avoid their customary quarter-final exit.

Spain coach Luis Aragones first brought Guiza into the national set-up in November last year ahead of the final two EURO 2008 qualifiers against Sweden and Northern Ireland. Unused against the Swedes, the man who went on to finish second in the race for the coveted ESM Golden Shoe was a starter in the 1-0 win over Northern Ireland.

I was really scared I'd miss out, because being the league's top scorer doesn't guarantee you a place
Dani Guiza on his inclusion in Spain's EURO squad.

Guiza now has the chance to prove his worth on the continent's biggest stage, having been named in Aragones' 23-man squad for Austria and Switzerland. " ," said the player, after the squad was announced.

Pulling on the jersey of La Furia Roja at EURO 2008 would be the high point of Guiza's up-and-down career, a journey to the top that started as a youngster playing on the streets of the southern Spanish city of Jerez de la Frontera. His idol, then as now, was Francisco Miguel Narvaez, better known as Kiko, who starred for Cadiz and Atletico Madrid in the 1990s. In fact, the Mallorca front-runner was coached by his hero for a short spell as a nine-year-old, and still celebrates his goals by posing in an archer's stance - a trademark of the former Rojiblanco legend.

Rocky road to success
Having graduated from street football, Guiza's route to the professional ranks began in the youth setup of local side Xerez. A spell at third-tier Dos Hermanas followed, where Guiza's talent and eye for goal were in evidence even at this early stage. His displays earned him a move to Primera Division outfit Mallorca, and in 2000 the powerfully built striker made his top flight debut at the age of just 19.

After a promising start, off-the-field distractions began hampering his development and led Mallorca to loan him out to Recreativo de Huelva. Reunited with coach Lucas Alcaraz, his boss at Dos Hermanas, he was still unable to find his feet, ending the 2002-03 season on loan with Barcelona's second team in Spain's Segunda B (third division).

The turning point finally came with a transfer to the now defunct Ciudad de Murcia ahead of the 2003-04 season, the club having just won promotion to the second division. There the goals suddenly flowed like water, 36 of them in two years to be exact, and brought several top-flight clubs knocking at his door.

Winners of the race for his signature were Getafe. After Guiza joined the Azulones in August 2005, he was quickly among the goals, leading the club's President Angel Torres to describe him as "the best finisher in la Liga after Ronaldo".

In time the forward would more than justify Torres' weighty compliment, grabbing 11 league goals and six Copa del Rey strikes in the 2006-07 campaign. And fans of the Madrid club will always remember a lethal display against Barcelona in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals. Trailing 5-2 from the first leg, Guiza scored twice as Getafe routed the Catalan giants 4-0 to reach the final for the first time in club history, where they fell to a narrow defeat against Sevilla.

Next stop was a return to Mallorca, the club that gave him his top-flight debut. Guiza's 27 league goals formed the bedrock of a superb campaign by the Balearic club, who finished the season in seventh spot, just one short of a UEFA Cup place and their best position since 2001.

Dani is the top goalscorer in our division and he deserves extra credit for doing it without taking penalties. Guiza deserves to go to the EURO
Gregorio Manzano on his star striker.

At the helm of the Mallorquín outfit is well respected coach Gregorio Manzano, who is clearly is delighted with the Andalusian striker's contribution. "In 24 years of coaching I've never had the winner of the Pichichi in my team," he said. " ."

And with this summer's European showpiece just days away, Daniel Guiza has the opportunity to cap his remarkable renaissance in the best way possible: by ending Spain's long absence from the final of a major tournament.