Sponsored By: Nigel from PACAIR & Darren from A1R Services
A LEADER, and experienced member of the Hornets' squad, Manuel Almunia’s arrival in the summer of 2012 brought a wealth of Premier, and Champions League experience to Vicarage Road.
Quickly installed as captain, the 6ft 4ins stopper was inked in on Gianfranco Zola’s team sheet last season when fit, and proved a more than capable last line of the Hornets’ defence.
The Spaniard showed his big-game experience in the Hornets' Championship Play-Off Final in 2013, putting in a fine display under the iconic Wembley arch.
His football development came in his Spanish homeland, as he came through the ranks with Osasuna but failed to make an appearance for the first-team. Short spells at Recreativo, Celta Vigo and Albacete followed before a 27-year-old Almunia joined Arsene Wenger and Arsenal in 2004.
The Spaniard spent eight years in north London, in which time he won an FA Cup, and kept goal against Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final after Jens Lehmann was sent off early on.
Often understudy to the enigmatic German in his early days as a Gunner, Almunia made the spot of first-choice goalkeeper his own in the 2007/08 season, and went on to make over 150 appearances at the Emirates.
Joined from: Arsenal (July 2012)
Debut: August 11th, 2012 v Wycombe (h)