Friday, September 29, 2023

I was a Diego Simeone star who hated toxic agents, but now Chelsea and Man City fight over my clients

Retiring at 27 with three herniated spinal discs, Alvaro Dominguez could have been forgiven for taking some time to himself.

In fact, the former Atletico Madrid and Spain star was told to do exactly that by a club doctor at Borussia Monchengladbach.

Dominguez played against the best and was a fan favourite at both Borussia Monchengladbach and Atletico Madrid before calling time on his careerAFP

Injury meant he could no longer play and he was only 27 when he was forced to watch permanently from the [email protected]

Moving to the Bundesliga giants in 2012, Dominguez quickly became a club icon like he was with Atleti where he came through the youth ranks, however, he sought legal action against Gladbach shortly after hanging up his boots early in 2016.

Unable to walk after matches despite pain-killing injections, Dominguez returned home to Madrid in the summer of 2015 to undergo tests on his back.

Presenting the startling results – he was told he would end up disabled and in a wheelchair if he continued playing – the centre-back alleges he was told to begin pre-season, and postpone an operation until the winter break.

Ten games later and the pain was too much, with Dominguez opting to call it a day at the age of 27 before exploring ‘every legal action’ with his lawyers in Germany.

Explaining that he wanted Gladbach to ‘show humility’ and acknowledge ‘things weren’t done right,’ he later moved on from potentially damaging his relationship with a club he loved, and instead returned to football in a very different manner.

Now the 34-year-old is making a name for himself in football as an agent, spurned on by those who wronged him during his own career.

Speaking to Spanish newspaper Marca, he said: “I decided to move into the world of representing footballers because I said ‘look, I’m going to be the agent that one day as a footballer I would have wanted to have’.

“I really like working with young people, getting the most out of their careers, supporting them in making decisions, which ultimately means a lot.”

He’s all smiles now as an agent, aiming to guide players better than he felt he [email protected]

Explaining his attitude to the profession, he said: “I don’t like the world of agents at all. 

“A little because of the environment, not because of what people say… rather in general.

“There are very beautiful moments, but there are other moments where it is a slightly contaminated world or something toxic. Fortunately, I work with the people I love, for me they are like family and I enjoy it a lot.”

Working for agency EMG Mundial, Dominguez, a Europa League winner with Atleti in 2010 and 2012, has backed up his word, placing numerous young talents at top LaLiga sides like Barcelona.

It also helps that he speaks fluent English and German, having studied at an English school in Madrid. He once left Dirk Kuyt stunned by telling him ‘shut your f****** mouth’ during a feisty Europa semi-final in 2010.

His most famous deal to date is still a positional record, and one that wouldn’t have come about without guidance towards Brighton’s talent pool.

Domninguez was part of two big wins at Atelti, but wasn’t part of manager Diego Simeone’s plans and he eventually moved to GermanyGetty

Marc Cucurella left the Seagulls for Stamford Bridge for £60m last summer, and while Chelsea spending over the odds for players isn’t new, Man City manager Pep Guardiola and Manchester City’s eagerness for the Spaniard showed just how rated he was.

If it wasn’t for Dominguez, though, we might not even be talking about a full-back.

“The clearest example is that of Marc,” the former Spain international explained. “Since his transfer was the most expensive in history for a full-back. 

“Two years ago he was a full-back that we were going to talk about all over Europe, with clubs in Italy, in Germany and they didn’t see him as a full-back because he had almost always played as a winger for Getafe and Eibar.

“We decided to go to a Brighton team where they believed it and wanted him more as a full-back than a winger. 

“From then on, due to the style of play, in the end we made decisions based on what might suit him, how the player adapts to the team’s style of play and then the results come.”

Dominguez helped take Cucurella to Brighton and was there when Chelsea swopped, paying £60m for a defender who wasn’t considered a full-back by [email protected]

Being an ex-player, who supported Chelsea and idolised John Terry, has put Dominguez in good stead for seeing the bigger picture.

A leader of Atelti before taking the same role at Gladbach, Dominguez was very much the future of the Madrid side, having broken through as a young player and becoming a first-choice defender.

Things, though, got complicated when legendary coach Diego Simeone arrived, and he’s now able to impart the kind of guidance that he could have used during his playing career.

He began: “I always tell my boys a case of mine, a very personal one, from when Cholo Simeone arrived at Atletico and preferred to bet on [Juan] Miranda and [Diego] Godin. 

“I was used to playing, winning trophies, being one of the captains, I didn’t know how to put up with that. 

“Every player goes through a process and there are times when you’ll play more and other times when you’ll play less. 

“When you’re young, you don’t see it, that’s why many times you need someone coherent or someone who sets the guidelines for you and says ‘hey, no, nothing’s wrong, this is part of the learning process where we have to improve’.

“After all, you say ‘well, I think I was wrong’ and that’s what I try to convey to the boys, both the good and the bad, and that there are processes where you have to put up with it.”

A fan favourite at Gladbach who has cult hero status, there’s clearly still some regrets he didn’t stay at Atleti and become part of his boyhood team’s historic Copa del Rey and LaLiga triumphs.

But should his clients find themselves in similar predicaments, Dominguez will now be making sure the player comes first.

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