If Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez needs someone to play in the hole just behind his front men, he should look no further than Ignacio Gonzalez. Forceful and talented with it, Gonzalez has all the qualities needed for the role, including vision and a goalscoring instinct. It was those attributes that helped him break into the first team at Danubio, where he made his maiden top-flight appearance as a 20-year-old in 2002.
Tipped for stardom, his international career nevertheless got off to a disappointing start. He was a member of the Uruguay side that failed to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup UAE 2003, a setback he was to experience once more with the U-23 team that missed out on a place at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Athens 2004.
His first Uruguayan Primera Division title success with Danubio came in 2004 and his consistent performances in the seasons that followed led to a call from Tabarez in early 2006, Gonzalez making his debut in a friendly with England that March.
He ended the 2006/07 season with another league winner’s medal, having top-scored for his club with 13 goals. He also played four games for his country at the Copa America in Venezuela that year and in September he was included in the squad for the beginning of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying competition, impressing in his one and only start, the 2-1 loss to Brazil in Sao Paulo.
A fruitless loan move to Monaco followed in 2008. Months later he was bought by Valencia, farmed out to Newcastle United and returned to Valencia once more. To add to his frustration he also picked up a troublesome tendon injury, slowly slipping out of Uruguay contention as a result.
After failing to make a single international appearance in 2009, he rediscovered his form with Greek side Levadiakos, giving him the opportunity to stake an ultimately successful claim for a place at the world finals.