Christian Noboa is the man charged with ensuring balance in the Ecuadorian midfield, his extraordinary technique, defensive solidity, tactical intelligence and outstanding passing ability making him an essential cog in La Tri’s machine at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™. Known as El Zar (The Tsar) in his homeland, Noboa made his breakthrough at the age of 19 at Emelec, wasting little time nailing down a starting berth and helping the club to a runners-up finish in the domestic championship.

Snapped up by Russian outfit Rubin Kazan, he continued to demonstrate his abundant qualities, growing into an important part of the side that claimed the club’s first ever national title. More success followed at Rubin in the shape of another title and a Russian Supercup, honours that have since earned him a switch to Dinamo Moscow – where he continues to catch the eye.

Regarding the national-team set-up, Noboa began at youth level as part of the squad that participated in the U-20 Sudamericano in Colombia in 2005. The following year he was called up for two friendlies with Ecuador’s senior squad, though he failed to see action and was not selected for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™.

His senior debut eventually came in 2009 during qualifying for South Africa 2010, making seven appearances and scoring two goals – one of which was a memorable late equaliser against Brazil. Also part of La Tri squad at the Copa America in Argentina in 2011, Noboa has really come into his own in Brazil 2014 qualifying. Only five Ecuador players enjoyed more on-the-field time than El Zar, Noboa making 13 appearances in helping his country to their third World Cup final tournament.