He has forged one of the finest careers in goalkeeping history from forensically studying how to stop strikers, so Gigi Buffon probably knows what makes them tick better than most – and he has so far summed up Alvaro Morata’s career better than most.
The goalkeeper believes his former Juventus teammate can be one of the best strikers in the world, “if only he could get over his mental hang-ups”.
These are probably sentiments expressed about the 24-year-old more than any other, and yet he has always had the best possible response, really from even before this type of thing was said. Morata has a supreme record of scoring in big games, going right back to Spain’s immensely successful underage teams.
“He just always had that cold blood,” his former international youth manager Gines Melendez tells the Independent, and Morata thereby has a fearsome record, too.
Melendez saw the start of it, as he was under-17 manager when Morata’s two goals drove Spain to the semi-finals of the 2009 World Cup, and then under-19 manager when the Real Madrid forward’s six golden-boot-winning strikes also helped win the 2011 European Championships.
He just kept getting better as he got older, hitting four key goals to finish top scorer in Spain’s surge to the 2013 under-21 European Championships trophy too.
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The ultimate indication of his talent was in Juventus’ run to the 2014-15 Champions League final, however, when he scored in both semi-final legs against Real Madrid and then an initial equaliser in the 3-1 final defeat to Barcelona.
“You could see straight away he was a great player,” Melendez says of a local Madrid lad he knew from the age of 15.
It is little wonder that Jose Mourinho sees a player he can hone, he can work with, and who can take his team up a level. Many who know Morata well also see him as “ideal for a Mourinho team”.