David Alaba has become one of the most familiar faces in world football. - © © gettyimages / Streubel
David Alaba has become one of the most familiar faces in world football. - © © gettyimages / Streubel

Bayern's David Alaba: Austria's true champion

One of the biggest signs of a true champion is not so much the long lists of triumphs, achievements and accolades, but how they are also able to deal with setbacks and defeats.

Granted, there are not that many of the latter for a winner to deal with, but for FC Bayern München and Austria defender David Alaba, one occurred in the build-up to UEFA EURO 2016. The way he responded exemplified why the 23-year-old is already well on his way to that true champion status and the standout member of Austria's large Bundesliga contingent.

"We wanted to play the ball out from the back and I wanted to turn, then I saw two opponents bearing down on me," Alaba explained of an incident in the 87th minute of Austria's 2-1 win over Malta in an international friendly when he would have liked the earth to open up and swallow him up. "I thought Ramazan Özcan was stood in our goal."

Unfortunately for Alaba, he was not. FC Ingolstadt 04 'keeper Özcan had moved just to the side of his post, but it was already too late as Alaba stroked the ball into his own, unguarded goal. "It's disappointing, but I accept the total responsibility," added Austria's most famous sportsman, who later tweeted to his followers to forgive him that aberration.

Just a glance at his career statistics confirm that the downs are most certainly outweighed by the ups. Five Bundesliga titles, four DFB Cups, one UEFA Champions League, one FIFA Club World Cup, two German Supercups and two UEFA Super Cups already adorn his trophy cabinet: 14 trophies at the age of 23.

- © gettyimages / Streubel

He was also "the guarantee for Austria to reach their first major finals in years," according to Rummenigge, and the Alpine republic can now look forward to the coming weeks in which they can enjoy and admire Alaba as he tries to inspire them to similar success he has celebrated on club level.

"It's the first time for most of us to be in such a big tournament and while we're not likely to be high up on many people's tip lists, I think we can do really well," Alaba said. Just as long as he can avoid mistakes such as the one in the 87th minute against Malta, although his true champion reaction suggests not even that could stand between Alaba and more joy this summer.

- © gettyimages / Matthias Hangst