“Eight months ago I was in Segunda B and now I'm playing with the best players in the world and in the best team in the world,” mused the elated debutant. El Pais described it as a meteoric rise, whilst the rest of the Spanish Press called him spectacular - Alberto Moreno is the 37th player to debut for the Spanish national team under Vicente del Bosque.
Two English sides enquired about him over the summer and Real Madrid’s Florentino Perez had his eye on him in case Fabio Coentrao left - in a matter of months Moreno has gone from a relative unknown to Spain’s hottest youngster.
Sevilla sporting director Monchi credits Unai Emery for the emergence of the left-back. Muck like Jordi Alba before him, who continues to thank his old Valencia Coach for his transition to a more defensive role, Moreno has altered his game and thus attracted the limelight under Emery’s tutelage.
Nicknamed the ‘Russian’ on account of his fair skin, he was 12 years old when he won the Danone Cup, an international football tournament for kids, alongside Luis Alberto. However, barring that success, Moreno was rarely considered anything more than ordinary, suffering along the way and trying to get noticed, it was his perseverance that kept him in with the chance of realising his dreams.
It was under Ramon Tejada in Sevilla Atletico that the player truly came to life, a tactician Moreno described as a ‘a great Coach, a great man and a great person’. Tejada alternated him between the role of a winger and left-back but it was in a more forward role that Moreno caught the eye due to his direct runs and presence on the field. Humble and tactically versatile, Tejada appreciated the fighting mentality and the player’s willingness to play any role as long as he was on the pitch.
Moreno debuted for the senior squad under Michel but when Emery arrived at Sevilla, he swiftly promoted the youngster, moved Fernando Navarro to the centre of defence and allowing Moreno the opportunity to dazzle in the left-back position, much like he did with Alba.
Boasting exemplary fitness levels, the Sevilla starlet is athletic, quick and technically gifted. Moreover, he offers width and when Del Bosque noticed Spain’s struggles against Belarus, narrow in their attempts to get forward, the Coach looked for players capable of exploiting the full width of the pitch against Georgia.
Combining beautifully with Andres Iniesta and especially Pedro Rodriguez, Moreno started the match brightly on Tuesday night as he exhibited his determination to win back possession in advanced positions. He not only ensured defensive security but demonstrated confidence as he pushed forward to seek out attacking opportunities.
Grateful to his brother who always sits on the sidelines to celebrate his successes, Moreno is yet another Spanish youngster catching the eye. Perseverance is what got him to where he is, Sevilla President Jose Maria del Nido has explained, and with more performances like that, there’s every reason to believe he will be on that plane to Brazil next summer.