Roberto Ayala

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Roberto Ayala
Roberto Ayala y Javier Zanetti - 07FEB2007 - Francia - presidencia-govar.jpg
Ayala with Argentina in 2007
Personal information
Full name Roberto Fabián Ayala
Date of birth (1973-04-14) 14 April 1973 (age 46)
Place of birth Paraná, Argentina
Height 1.77 m (5 ft 9 12 in)
Playing position Centre-back
Youth career
Ferro Carril Oeste
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1991–1993 Ferro Carril Oeste 72 (1)
1994–1995 River Plate 40 (0)
1995–1998 Napoli 87 (1)
1998–2000 Milan 24 (0)
2000–2007 Valencia 188 (9)
2007 Villarreal 0 (0)
2007–2010 Zaragoza 72 (4)
2010–2011 Racing Club 16 (0)
Total 499 (15)
National team
1994–2007 Argentina 115 (7)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Roberto Fabián Ayala (locally: [roˈβ̞erto faˈβ̞jan 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.[1] Ayala captained the Argentine national team in a record 63 matches.[2] 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.

Football career

Early Career in Argentina

Ayala began his career in his native Argentina, playing for Ferro Carril Oeste. After three seasons, he moved to River Plate where his good form atrracted the attention of clubs in Europe.

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.


During his seven years at Valencia CF, he helped them reach the UEFA Champions League final in 2001. However, his team lost to Bayern Munich in a penalty shoot-out after a 1–1 draw, although he was nonetheless voted the Best Defender of the tournament season. The following year, Valencia won the 2001–02 Spanish La Liga. In 2003–04, Valencia again won the Spanish La Liga and added the UEFA Cup.

In the 2004–05 season, injuries kept Ayala from much of the La Liga campaign and he missed the UEFA Super Cup 2004 victory over Porto.

During his time with Valencia, he was widely regarded as one of the finest central defenders in the world.[citation needed]

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.[3] 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.[4] 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.

Racing Avellaneda

On 2 February 2010, Racing Club de Avellaneda signed Ayala on a free transfer.[5]

Managerial career

On 30 December, he retired from professional football, and became Racing Avellaneda's manager.[6]

International career

He made his debut for Argentina on 16 November 1994, against Chile, under coach Daniel Passarella.

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.

On 30 May 2006, In a friendly match against Angola, Ayala completed 100 caps for Argentina.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9] Ayala stated, "it has nothing to do with what happened in the final of the Copa America."[10] Javier Zanetti took over from him as captain.

Personal life

Ayala is married to Veronica, and has four children: Francisco, Sofía, Pilar and Martina.[citation needed]

Career statistics

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Argentina League Cup League Cup South America Total
1991–92 Ferro Carril Oeste Primera División 18 0
1992–93 36 0
1993–94 18 1
1993–94 River Plate Primera División 16 0
1994–95 24 0
Italy League Coppa Italia League Cup Europe Total
1995–96 Napoli Serie A 29 0
1996–97 30 1
1997–98 28 0
1998–99 Milan Serie A 11 0
1999–00 13 0
Spain League Copa del Rey Supercopa de España Europe Total
2000–01 Valencia La Liga 28 1
2001–02 30 2
2002–03 31 1
2003–04 30 1
2004–05 17 0
2005–06 23 2
2006–07 29 2
2007–08 Real Zaragoza La Liga 33 1
2008–09 Segunda División 26 3
2009–10 La Liga 13 0
Total Argentina 112 1
Italy 111 1
Spain 260 13
Career total 468 15

Correct as of 14 June 2009


Argentina national team
Year Apps Goals
1994 3 0
1995 14 0
1996 6 0
1997 7 0
1998 13 1
1999 12 1
2000 11 1
2001 8 0
2002 1 0
2003 6 0
2004 10 1
2005 8 2
2006 7 1
2007 9 0
Total 115 7

International goals

# Date Venue Opponent Result Competition
1 19 February 1998 Mendoza, Argentina Romania Romanian League 2–1 Unofficial Friendly[12]
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


Roberto Ayala
Medal record
Representing  Argentina
Men's Football

Olympic Games
Silver medal – second place 1996 Atlanta Team Competition
Gold medal – first place 2004 Athens Team Competition
Pan American Games
Gold medal – first place 1995 Mar del Plata Team Competition

International honours


Club honours

River Plate









  1. "Ultime notizie su Roberto Ayala" (in Italian). Il Sole 24 Ore. 6 June 2006. Retrieved 5 June 2015. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Messi inspires Argentina to 4–3 win over Algeria". 5 June 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Ayala será jugador del Real Zaragoza". 14 July 2007. Archived from the original on 11 August 2007. Retrieved 14 July 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Zaragoza put an end to Ayala saga". 17 July 2006. Retrieved 17 July 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Roberto Ayala llegó a Argentina para incorporarse a Racing Club
  7. "Centurion Ayala eyes main prize". 29 June 2006. Retrieved 26 June 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Messi inspires Argentina to 4–3 win over Algeria". China Daily. 5 June 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Clarin newspaper Ayala: "Mi ciclo en la Selección está terminado" (Spanish)
  10. Ayala: "Mi ciclo en la Selección está terminado"
  12. International Matches 1998 Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 12 March 2008.
  13. "South American Team of the Year". 16 January 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links