A product of Real Zaragoza’s youth set-up, Alvaro Arbeloa is a versatile defender who was picked up by Real Madrid at the tender age of 16. There he first crossed paths with Rafael Benitez, then coach of the club’s youth side. Arbeloa worked his way up to the first team, making his debut in October 2004, but faced with fierce competition for places, he decided that pastures new were his best option, with division rivals Deportivo La Coruna his destination. His time in Galicia would be short-lived, however, as after just 21 matches his compatriot Benitez persuaded Arbeloa to join the growing Spanish Armada at Liverpool in 2007.
His successful first season on Merseyside did not go unnoticed by Spain coach Luis Aragones, who handed him his first cap in a friendly encounter with Italy in March 2008. A few months later he attained his first-ever international honour as Spain cruised to UEFA EURO 2008 glory in Austria and Switzerland, taking part in the opening match. After taking over from Aragones, Vicente del Bosque was quick to make the adaptable full-back a permanent fixture in the national squad, fielding him in some of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 matches played by Spain in South Africa.
That same summer, and after two effective years at Anfield, Arbeloa returned to where he had started out, signing for Real Madrid once again. This season, he has been a first-team regular at the Bernabeu, playing mainly at left-back, although he is equally competent on the right. A disciplined, tactically-sound footballer, he is known for his tenacious marking and his delivery of accurate crosses from the byline.