Template:ImportReviewTemplate:Player-stub Template:Infobox Biography Manuel Almunia Rivero (born 19 May 1977) is a Spanish footballer who plays for Watford.

He was Arsenal's first choice goalkeeper following the departure of Jens Lehmann, although after Arsenal's 3–2 defeat to West Bromwich Albion in 2010, Wojciech Szczęsny and Łukasz Fabiański were preferred, leaving Almunia as Arsenal's third-choice goalkeeper. He was subsequently released from his contract in July 2012 before joining Watford.

Club careerEdit

Early careerEdit

Born in Pamplona, Navarre, Almunia started his senior career with Osasuna's reserve team in 1997, playing two seasons with the team in Segunda División B. He went on to spend two more seasons in the category, with Cartagonova and Sabadell, joining the top flight in 2001–02, with Real Club Celta de Vigo.

However, shortly after joining Celta, Almunia was loaned out to Segunda División side Eibar, where he spent 2001–02 as first-choice goalkeeper. During the 2002–03 season, Celta loaned him out to first-division club Recreativo de Huelva, where he played understudy to José Antonio Luque and César, only making two league appearances. Almunia's début in the first division came on 17 November 2002, following a red card to the latter, in a 3–0 defeat at Deportivo Alavés.

He then returned to Celta, being loaned for the third and final time, now to Albacete Balompié on 1 November 2003. He made his club début the following week, in a 1–0 loss at Málaga. Almunia achieved first-choice status, making a total of 24 league appearances until the end of the season, while helping Albacete finish 14th.

International careerEdit

Almunia has not played international football. He has stated on more than one occasion his wish to play for England, only provided that he did not receive a call-up from the Euro 2008-winning Spain first. He was not called up to Spain's national team for Euro 2008 so the option of playing for England is still available. He qualifies because he holds both Spanish and British Citizenship having lived and worked in England for more than five years.

External linksEdit

Watford FC
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Watford current squad
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