UEFA Champions League 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
Antonio Valencia was born on 4 August 1985 in Nueva Loja, also known as Lago Agrio, Ecuador, which is located in the Amazon Rainforest.Valencia helped his mother sell drinks outside the stadium of his local club at Lago Agrio and would then search for empty bottles for his father to sell to a bottle-deposit in the capital, Quito.Valencia used to play barefoot on the pitch next to the bungalow he shared with his parents, five brothers and sister.When Valencia was aged 11, scout Pedro "Papi" Perlaza spotted him playing on a dusty field near his home, and signed him to the local FA-run sports academy in Sucumbíos.At the age of 16, Valencia didn't tell his father he left home to take up an offer to play for El Nacional, the military-backed club in Quito.Nobody knew about Valencia’s decision, except his mother and his elder brother, Carlos Alfredo, who paid the fare for his eight-hour bus journey.Valencia began in central midfield and on a salary of 50 dollars a month.Valencia started his career at El Nacional and within a year, he was fast-tracked into the Under 20s, where he played alongside striker Christian "Chucho"’ Benítez and scored 20 goals in 84 matches.Valencia made his debut for El Nacional alonsgside his idol Édison Méndez. Valencia moved to the Spanish league team Villarreal CF in 2005.After failing to break into the first-team, however, he was loaned to Recreativo de Huelva to gain experience.Valencia helped Recreativo gain promotion to La Liga as they finished the season top of the table.On 3 August 2006, Valencia joined English Premier League club Wigan Athletic, initially on a year long loan deal.He made his debut for Wigan on 19 August, in a 2–1 loss away to Newcastle United. His first goal for Wigan came in a 4–0 home win over Manchester City on 21 October.Valencia returned after a three-month absence as he played 78 minutes of a 2–0 home loss to Everton on 21 January 2007. Valencia was sent off for the first time for Wigan on 9 April, receiving a straight red card for a two-footed challenge on Wilfred Bouma during a 1–1 away draw against Aston Villa.Valencia ended his first season with one goal, one assist and one red card in his 22 appearances.The loan was extended into the following season, and on 18 January 2008 he transferred for an undisclosed fee, signing a three-and-a-half-year contract.The deal was said to be around £5m.Valencia scored his first goal of the 2007–08 season in a 2–0 win over Derby County on 23 February,before netting his first Wigan brace in a 2–0 away victory over Aston Villa on 3 May. Valencia ended the season with three goals and three assists in 32 appearances in all competitions.Valencia's first goal of the following season came in Wigan's 5–0 away victory over Hull City on 30 August.He then grabbed a goal in the 2–1 home win over Manchester City on 28 September, but followed it up by receiving a red card in the 3–2 loss at Liverpool on 18 October. Valencia scored his final goal for Wigan on 13 December, as he inspired them to a 3–0 victory over Blackburn Rovers.Wigan boss Steve Bruce confirmed that Valencia turned down the chance to join Real Madrid in January 2009.On 9 February, Valencia was ruled out of action for three weeks after suffering a recurrence of a hamstring injury.In early June 2009, the Wigan chairman Dave Whelan announced that he would not force Valencia to stay at the club.Valencia scored 7 goals in 89 appearances during his time at Wigan.On 30 June 2009, Valencia became Manchester United's first summer signing, having cut his holiday short to have a medical with the club. He has signed a four-year contract for an undisclosed fee, rumoured to be in the region of £16 million.On 29 July, he made his debut for United and scored his first goal in the process, netting United's second in a 2–1 pre-season victory over Boca Juniors in the Audi Cup. He made his competitive debut for Manchester United in the 2009 FA Community Shield, when he came on for the injured Nani in the 62nd minute.On 17 October, he scored his first competitive goal for the club, scoring United's second in a 2–1 league victory against Bolton Wanderers.His first UEFA Champions League goal followed four days later in a 1–0 away victory against CSKA Moscow.Valencia provided the assist for Wayne Rooney's winning goal in the 2010 League Cup Final against Aston Villa on 28 February 2010, Valencia was named Man of the Match as United won 2–1. On 25 April, Valencia was included in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year in his debut season for the club alongside team-mates Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher and Wayne Rooney.On 8 August, Valencia scored United's first goal in their 3–1 win over Chelsea in the 2010 Community Shield.During a Champions League game against Rangers on 14 September, Valencia suffered a break to his left ankle. An operation the morning after the match showed that his left ankle was fractured and dislocated, and that his ankle ligaments were damaged. On the 28th February 2011, Antonio returned to training with Manchester United's first team. He played his first official game back from injury against Arsenal in the FA Cup 6th round on 12 March 2011. On 9 April, he scored his first league goal of the season as he netted the second of a 2–0 home win over Fulham. Days later, he scored the first goal in United's 4–1 victory against the German team Schalke 04 in the second leg of the semifinal of the 2010–11 UEFA Champions League, game in which he was selected as player of the match. On 14 May, he became the first Ecuadorian player to win the English Premier League in the 2010–11 season.