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Getting To Know: Claudio Bravo

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A look into Claudio Bravo's career as a football player

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(Writer's note: Apparently there have been pleads for me to restart this series. Well, your voice has been heard as this is the first instalment of many. Players that have been reviewed here in years past, will not be reviewed again, but those that have not will be at some point.)

Full name: Claudio Andrés Bravo Muñoz
Squad No: 13
Position: Goalkeeper
Date of birth: 13 April 1983
Place of birth: Viluco de Buin, Chile
Height: 1.84 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight: 80 kg (176 lbs)

Claudio Bravo was born in a small town of Viluco de Buin, Chile, located in the metropolitan area of the country's capital and largest city, Santiago. His father quickly noticed young Claudio's talent on the football pitch and signed him into the youth ranks of Chile's most successful club, Colo-Colo, just a 40 minute drive from Bravo's hometown. Claudio started his footballing journey as a forwards, but he gradually started working his way to the back of the pitch. He then started playing in the defensive line, before eventually asking the manager of the Cadete team to put him in goal. Since then Bravo never left his place between the sticks.

Working his way through the youth ranks, Bravo was finally rewarded for his hard work in 2002 when starting goalkeeper, Eduardo Lobos, picked up an injury. Bravo did his best to impress his employers, but his status as the No. 1 goalkeeper was short lived as he too would end up on the treatment table. After he returned from the spell on the sidelines Bravo never again relinquished the starting job, capping off his tenure at Colo-Colo with the Apertura title. In four years with one of the iconic clubs in Chile Bravo appeared in 133 games. During his time in Chile he was given the nickname Cóndor Chico, roughly translated into boy condor or small condor, as an homage to the legendary goalkeeper, Roberto Antonio "Cóndor" Rojas.

Bravo left his homeland for Europe in the summer of 2006, when he joined Basque outfit Real Sociedad for €1.2 million. It was a time of difficulty for La Real who were relegated in Bravo's first season with the club. Bravo didn't start the season as the first choice goalkeeper, but he gradually forced the manager's hand and Bravo started to slowly take playing time from regular starter, Asier Riesgo. In the end, Bravo appeared in 28 games in his rookie season, but the relegation was certainly not his fault as he finished the season sixth in Zamora Trophy voting.

The following season Bravo was relegated to bench duty, but for the 2008-09 season the Chilean was back between the goalposts, a place he never gave up again. Bravo also achieved a rare feat for a goalkeeper in 2010 as he scored a goal from a direct free kick, his only tally up to date. Real Sociedad returned to the top flight for the 2010-11 season and Bravo continued to perform at a high level, finishing among the top seven goalkeeper's twice in four seasons. Bravo spent eight season playing for the Txuriurdin, becoming a club icon along the way, appearing in 236 games, second most for a foreigner for the club.

Barcelona took note of those excellent appearances and shelled out €12 million to secure the Chilean's services. At the time it was unclear whether Bravo would be the first choice goalkeeper or if he will be the substitute, but he has since shown to be a real asset in goal for the Catalan giants. He started the season in magnificent form, not allowing a single goal for the first 754 minutes, a new La Liga record, and has so far only allowed nine goals in 19 appearances for the Blaugrana.

On the international stage Bravo has become a household name, proving to be a key member of the Chilean national team ever since he made his senior debut in 2004. Before that he was also capped on the U-17, U-20 and U-23 stage. For the senior side he has appeared in 87 games, including matches at two World Cup competitions, in the latter of which Bravo became the most capped player in Chile national football team history.

Profile

As have many great goalkeepers before him Bravo too exemplifies leadership on and off the pitch. That combined with his work ethic proved to be a great starting package to build a career on. That leadership has proven invaluable in his excellent control of the penalty area, where he has proven to be very secure in handling high crosses. He possesses very quick reflexes and, maybe partially due to his upbringing as a forward, he is extremely calm with the ball at his feet.

Honors

Colo-Colo

  • Chilean Primera División (1): 2006 Apertura

Real Socieadad

  • Segunda División (1): 2009-10

Individual

  • Segunda División Zamora Trophy (1): 2008-09

Bravo is currently in the first year of the four year deal he signed upon joining FC Barcelona, a contract that will run out in 2018.