Crespo, Entre Ríos Province, Argentina
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Iván Gabriel Heinze (born April 19, 1978 in Crespo, Entre Ríos Province) is an Argentine football (soccer) player who currently plays for the English team Manchester United as a left-back, having transferred from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2004.
Heinze, began his career in small young local teams before moving to Santa Fe Province`s Newell`s Old Boys debuting professionaly in 1997.
He soon drew the attention of European scouts and in 1997 was snapped up by Spanish outfit Real Valladolid. Leaving his homeland at such a young age without having turned out for the national side, the tough-tackling, left-footed centre-back was barely known in his home nation. He was then loaned to Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon for the 1998/99 campaign.
On his return to Spain he established himself as a star of the Valladolid side, building up a reputation as a powerful left-sided player with good aerial ability. That led to a move to Paris Saint Germain in 2001, where he continued to impress. Between 2003 and 2004, he picked up a French Cup winners` medal and a Ligue 1 runners-up medal.
Heinze played in the gold medal winning Argentine team at the 2004 Summer Olympics. Heinze was part of another impressive defensive effort as Argentina strolled through the tournament without conceding a goal. It is worth noting that when playing for Argentina, Heinze is generally used on the left-hand side of a three-man back line, and does not get forward as much as he does in his left-back role at club level.
Gabriel holds an Italian passport but opted to play for the nation of his birth, Argentina. Yet he was still an unknown back in Argentina - when he earned his fifth cap against Ecuador he had to be introduced to fans in the press back home. His performances for PSG earned him a place in Argentina`s qualification squad for the 2006 World Cup. As the defender prepared for Argentina`s World Cup qualifying matches in May he was linked with Manchester United. A couple of weeks later he signed a five-year contract at Old Trafford.
Heinze has built a reputation as a powerful, no-nonsense defender. He is also renowned for his tenacity and leadership qualities and is dominant in the air. He arrived in England with a reputation as a `hardman`. One newspaper in France ran a poll to discover which player fans thought was the roughest defender in French football - Heinze was the unequivocal winner. The signing of the Argentinian brought to an end a long search for a much needed new left-back for Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United.
He marked his debut for United in September 2004 with a goal in the 2-2 draw against Bolton Wanderers and immediately established himself as United`s first choice left-back with a number of highly impressive performances. The Manchester United fans have taken to the Argentine for his exemplary attitude, showing fierce determination on the pitch. Heinze`s impressive play is regularly lauded by United fans with the familiar chant of "Ar-gen-tina!" Heinze was voted Manchester United fans` player of the year for the season 2004-2005, beating top-scorer Wayne Rooney, and is the first South American to do so. In August 2005 he was voted by the fans as Best defence player in the history of Paris Saint-Germain.
Heinze was injured in a UEFA Champions League match with Villarreal on 13 September and will be out of action until April 2006. United have suffered a dip in form in Heinze`s absence, further highlighting the Argentine`s importance to the Manchester club. English youngster Kieran Richardson and Irish defender John O`Shea have taken turns in Heinze`s left-back position with varying degrees of success. Ferguson has said that his team are missing Heinze`s experience and leadership.
Full Name at Birth
Gabriel Iván Heinze
Gabriel Iván Heinze (born 19 April 1978) is an Argentine former footballer. He could operate as either a left back or a central defender.
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