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Manuel Almunia - Plugging Along

Written By Justin on Friday, October 3, 2008 | 9:06:00 PM

Arsenal may have already suffered two shock defeats this season, but Manuel Almunia remains a calm, steady performer in goal. His story is an intriguing and inspiring one: plucked out of relative obscurity from Celta de Vigo, where he never made a first team appearance and instead went out on loan to three different unfashionable Spanish sides, he languished behind Jens Lehmann for four seasons, making a handful of appearances. In truth, he often looked out of his depth when he did play, most memorably in the 4-2 home defeat to Manchester United in the 2005-06 season.

When Lehmann dropped two clangers at the beginning of last season, however, Arsene Wenger unceremoniously dropped the German international. Almunia suddenly found himself the number one at one of the world's glamor clubs, leading the title challenge well into the new year. Adding to the pressure, a griping Lehmann sniped at Almunia in the press. The unflappable Spaniard didn't respond, and just kept turning in solid, unspectacular performances. The season ended with no trophies for Arsenal, but Almunia completed his transition from journeyman backup to established number one.

Manuel made the news this week when he credited some of his success to the book The Secret by Rhonda Bryne. Of the self-help book, he said, "It's really good. It talks about how everything that you want is in your mind and explains that you already have these things."

For a man who was struggling to get a game with Eibar of the Spanish Second Division not so long ago to claim the goalkeeper's jersey at Arsenal, he must be doing a lot of things right. Thumbs up, Manuel. Keep it going.