Renowned for his ability on the ball and with a decade’s experience in Spain, Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is embarking on a new adventure in English football after joining Manchester City from Barcelona on a four-year contract.
“It is not easy to leave a club like Barcelona where I had two fantastic years, but the opportunity to work with Pep Guardiola was too good to refuse,” said Bravo, with Guardiola adding: “He has experience and great leadership qualities and is in the prime of his life. He is a goalkeeper I have admired for a number of years and I’m really happy he is now a City player.”
UEFA.com unearths some lesser-known facts about the 33-year-old custodian.
He was once deemed too short to succeed
At 14, Bravo was dismissed by a director of his first team, Colo Colo in Santiago, as being too short at 1.70m. Goalkeeping coach Julio Rodríguez leapt to his defence, telling the director he would resign if the youngster left the club. Bravo kept working hard, shot up to 1.84m in height, and soon made his mark with the Chilean giants, helping them win the 2006 league championship play-off by saving two penalties in a shoot-out against arch-rivals Universidad de Chile.
He never played in the UEFA Champions League for Barcelona
Bravo spent eight seasons with Real Sociedad, staying loyal after they were relegated following his first term in San Sebastian. La Real returned to the top flight at the third time of asking and Bravo played his part at both ends, scoring the clinching goal in a game against Gimnàstic de Tarragona. In his penultimate campaign Real Sociedad came fourth, their highest finish for a decade, earning Bravo his first and only taste of UEFA Champions League football. (The Chilean played no European matches for Barça).
He made an awful start at Camp Nou
In his first outing with Barcelona in 2014, Bravo failed to stop a tame effort from Blerim Džemaili in a 1-0 friendly defeat by Napoli. The debutant faced the criticism head on, saying: “These things happen when you’re a goalkeeper. I’m calm – I know what I’m capable of. I have to keep working so this doesn’t happen again.” He promptly made his point, conceding just 44 goals in 75 competitive fixtures for Barcelona and setting a club record of 21 consecutive Liga clean sheets.
He is a record-holder in Chile
Bravo is Chile’s most-capped player with 106 appearances and has captained his country since 2008, playing in two FIFA World Cups and four editions of the Copa América. He skippered Chile to their first major trophy in 2015 when they beat Argentina on penalties as hosts of the latter tournament, Bravo repelling Éver Banega’s spot kick. History repeated itself this summer, as Chile again triumphed in a shoot-out against Lionel Messi’s Argentina, Bravo crucially denying Lucas Biglia.
He kept Antoine Griezmann in line
When future UEFA EURO 2016 Golden Boot winner Antoine Griezmann broke into the Real Sociedad side aged 18, he leaned on Bravo – a senior professional and another foreigner living far from home. The pair enjoyed a close friendship, Bravo sometimes playing the ‘big brother’ role. He recalled: “I would invite him to my house and advise him; occasionally I had to give him a clip around the ear when I felt he was going off the rails.”