Five things on Alvaro Morata, after the Spanish international striker signed for English champions Chelsea from Champions League holders Real Madrid on Friday for a deal reported to be worth up to 80 million euros ($92.2m, Sh9 billion):
Morata possesses a flamboyant side as he revealed when he proposed to his sweetheart Alice Campello. He did so at a show by magician Antonio Diaz in Madrid. Diaz instructed Alice to face one way on the stage and then turn round adding: “This’ll be the best trick you’ve ever seen.” As she wheeled round she saw Morata down on bended knee with a ring in his hand. “I was more nervous that day than any other,” he told The Guardian in April this year. “When you’re taken away from your pitch, your territory, the nerves are greater.” The happy couple were married in Venice in June.
CONTE A LONG-TIME ADMIRER
Morata will at last be managed by Antonio Conte after the latter coaxed him into joining Juventus in 2014 from Real Madrid and jumped ship to take over the national side days before the Spaniard signed his contract. However, Morata is positively dewy-eyed about Conte. “Conte is the manager who most ‘bet’ on me, without even ever having had me in his team,” he told the Guardian.
“I’m very conscious of that: he bet on me for Juventus but left before I arrived. He knows me better than I could imagine, I’m sure, and that’s important: it motivates you to work hard, train well.”
Morata has very fine locks admired by many. Sergio Ramos had a ritual whereby he shaved Morata’s head hoping it would bring them goals but last year he appeared shorn for a very different reason. It turned out he was doing it in support of child cancer sufferers at the Hospital Nino Jesus de Madrid. “There were some kids at a hospital that wanted to have the same hairstyle as me, but they couldn’t (due to cancer). Instead for them to have my hair style, I cut my hair and got their hairstyle,” he said.
FATHER FIGURE BUFFON
Morata left Juventus for a return to Real Madrid last year but he will forever be indebted to legendary Juve and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. He found life hard in Turin until Buffon took him to one side and told him not to show how he was feeling in public, lest others use it to their advantage.
“All lads who aren’t mature yet live various situations to the extreme. They live with great joy or with great depression if things aren’t going well,” Buffon told Real Madrid TV last year. “Alvaro had some negative thoughts in his last period at Juve, we talked about it a bit because I felt sorry for him, he was a lad I really liked and I wanted to help him and give him security. He deserved the help of a teammate, and I have huge affection for him.”
MORIENTES’ STAMP OF APPROVAL
Morata has been often compared with former Real Madrid striking great Fernando Morientes — who formed a lethal partnership with Raul for many years.
Morientes himself is a great admirer of Morata. “He’s a penalty area player who plays well high up the pitch. He’s a goalscorer and a complete player,” he told Omnisports last year. “And apart from that he’s a player you can use out wide. He’s very quick and he can go past players.”
Pedro left the field with a bloodied face after a big collision with David Ospina.