Ayala with Argentina in 2007
|Full name||Roberto Fabián Ayala|
|Date of birth||14 April 1973|
|Place of birth||Paraná, Argentina|
|Height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|Playing position||Centre Back|
|Ferro Carril Oeste|
|1991–1993||Ferro Carril Oeste||72||(1)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Roberto Fabián Ayala (locally: [roˈβeɾto faˈβjan aˈʒala]; born 14 April 1973), nicknamed el Ratón (in English: "the Mouse"), is a former Argentine footballer who played as a centre back for the Argentine National Football Team, as well as the Spanish giant Valencia and prominent Spanish side Zaragoza, the Italian giants Milan and Napoli, and the Argentine powerhouse River Plate.
Regarded as one of the best central defenders of his generation, he stood out for his leadership and ability in the air throughout his career. Ayala captained the Argentine national team in a record 63 matches. He played in three World Cups and made a total of 115 international appearances, with only Javier Zanetti getting more caps for Argentina. He inherited the nickname of Ratón from the Argentine 1974 World Cup player Rubén Ayala, although they are not related.
- 1 Football career
- 2 Managerial career
- 3 International career
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Career statistics
- 6 International goals
- 7 Honours
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early Career in Argentina
Move to Europe
Parma, Napoli and Milan
Italian club Parma FC brought the Argentine defender to Europe. However the club, having already used their quota of three non-EU players, loaned him to Napoli, who bought up half of his contract on a co-ownership deal. Ayala was bought by AC Milan at the end of the 1997–98 season and played there for two seasons until Valencia CF bought him for £6.25 Million.
On 24 September 2000, Ayala made his debut for Valencia in a 3–0 La Liga win over CD Numancia. He soon established himself as a first choice central defender for Los Che and started alongside compatriot Mauricio Pellegrino in the 2001 UEFA Champions League Final, where Valencia lost 5–4 to FC Bayern Munich after a penalty shootout. He was later named best defender for the 2000–01 tournament.
The following season, Ayala was part of the Valencia team that won the 2001–02 La Liga title. He scored the opening goal of a 2–0 defeat of Málaga CF which secured the championship on 5 May 2002. In 2003–04, Valencia again won the La Liga title and beat Olympique de Marseille 2–0 in Gothenburg to win the UEFA Cup.
During his time with Valencia, he was widely regarded as one of the finest central defenders in the world and is considered to be one of the club's all-time legends.
Villarreal and Real Zaragoza
In August 2006, he was not offered a new contract by sporting director Amedeo Carboni. On 7 February 2007 Ayala announced he would join regional rivals Villarreal CF at the end of the season. However, before having played for Villarreal, he joined Real Zaragoza on a three-year deal on 14 July 2007. The buy-out clause in his contract with Villarreal was €6 million (£4.8 million) which was paid in full by Real Zaragoza.
On 3 May 2008, Ayala scored his first goal for Real Zaragoza in the 94th minute versus Deportivo La Coruña to lead Zaragoza to a 1–0 victory. Zaragoza however were relegated to the Spanish 2nd Division. On 22 November 2008, Ayala scored his second goal for Real Zaragoza, in the 73rd of a 3-0 win over SD Eibar. On 29 February 2009, he scored his third goal, in the 54th minute against Real Murcia as Zaragoza won the match 4–1.
In January 2010, Ayala's contract with Real Zaragoza was terminated by mutual consent.
On 30 December, he retired from professional football, and became Racing Avellaneda's manager.
Ayala played for Argentina at the 1996 Summer Olympics, winning the silver medal. He played for Argentina in the 1998 World Cup and was a non-playing squad member in the 2002 competition due to a last minute injury moments before their first match against Nigeria. He was then selected as an over-age player as Argentina won the gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics. Ayala played an integral part in the Argentine squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. He played brilliantly throughout the tournament, and was picked as a member of the All Star Team. In the quarterfinal against Germany he scored a header that gave Argentina the 1–0 lead. Argentina lost the penalty shootout after the 1–1 tie, with Ayala's spot kick being saved by Jens Lehmann.
One of the best defenders in Argentina's history, on 7 February 2007, Ayala became the most capped player of the National team (most of the times as captain), beating his friend Diego Simeone, in a friendly victory 1–0 against France played in the Stade de France, Paris.
On 5 June 2007, in a friendly against Algeria, Roberto Ayala captained Argentina for a record 58th international, having equalled Diego Maradona's mark of 57 in the 1–1 draw against Switzerland in Basel on Saturday 2 June.
On 17 July 2007, after playing in the Copa América 2007 final against Brazil, during which he scored an own goal, Ayala announced his retirement from international football. Ayala stated, "it has nothing to do with what happened in the final of the Copa America." Javier Zanetti took over from him as captain.
Ayala is married to Veronica, and has four children: Francisco, Sofía, Pilar and Martina.
|Club performance||League||Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
|Argentina||League||Cup||League Cup||South America||Total|
|1991–92||Ferro Carril Oeste||Primera División||18||0|
|1993–94||River Plate||Primera División||16||0|
|Italy||League||Coppa Italia||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|Spain||League||Copa del Rey||Supercopa de España||Europe||Total|
|2007–08||Real Zaragoza||La Liga||33||1|
Correct as of 14 June 2009
|Argentina national team|
|1||19 February 1998||Mendoza, Argentina||Romanian League||2–1||Unofficial Friendly|
|2||7 September 1999||Porto Alegre, Brazil||Brazil||2–4||Friendly|
|3||26 April 2000||Maracaibo, Venezuela||Venezuela||4–0||World Cup 2002 Qualifying|
|4||13 July 2004||Piura, Peru||Uruguay||4–2||Copa América 2004|
|5||12 November 2005||Geneva, Switzerland||England||2–3||Friendly|
|6||16 November 2005||Doha, Qatar||Qatar||3–0||Friendly|
|7||30 June 2006||Berlin, Germany||Germany||1 – 1 (2–4 PS)||2006 FIFA World Cup|
|1996 Atlanta||Team Competition|
|2004 Athens||Team Competition|
|Pan American Games|
|1995 Mar del Plata||Team Competition|
- Apertura: 1994
- South American Team of the Year: 1994
- UEFA Club Best Defender of the Year: 2000–01
- European Sports Media Team of the Year: 2003–04
- 2006 FIFA World Cup All-Star Team
- "Ultime notizie su Roberto Ayala" (in Italian). Il Sole 24 Ore. 6 June 2006. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
- "Messi inspires Argentina to 4–3 win over Algeria". Chinadaily.com.cn. 5 June 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2007.
- "Ayala". Valencia CF. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
- "15 years of Ayala's debut with VCF". Valencia CF. 24 September 2015.
- "Bayern Munich 1 - 1 Valencia". The Guardian. 24 May 2001.
- "Champions League final runners-up XI: The best players never to win it". Sky Sports. 6 June 2015.
- "Rafa Benítez: 10 key wins in new Newcastle United manager’s career". The Guardian. 12 March 2016.
- "Ayala será jugador del Real Zaragoza". www.realzaragoza.com. 14 July 2007. Archived from the original on 11 August 2007. Retrieved 14 July 2007.
- "Zaragoza put an end to Ayala saga". www.uefa.com. 17 July 2006. Retrieved 17 July 2007.
- Roberto Ayala llegó a Argentina para incorporarse a Racing Club
- "Centurion Ayala eyes main prize". www.fifa.com. 29 June 2006. Retrieved 26 June 2007.
- "Messi inspires Argentina to 4–3 win over Algeria". China Daily. 5 June 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2007.
- Clarin newspaper Ayala: "Mi ciclo en la Selección está terminado" (Spanish)
- Ayala: "Mi ciclo en la Selección está terminado"
- International Matches 1998 Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 12 March 2008.
- "South American Team of the Year". RSSSF. 16 January 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
- Argentine Primera statistics at Fútbol XXI (Spanish)