He’s taken almost everyone by surprise this season, béticos and la liga watchers alike, but who is Álex Alegría and where has he come from? He will be 24 next month so he isn’t exactly young in footballing terms so why has he just appeared on the scene at Betis and made such an impact?
Alegría was brought to Betis by club legend Jose Antonio Gordillo, who was coordinator of the youth team at the time. Gordillo watched the player live eight or nine times before signing him in the summer of 2012 from Club Polideportivo Cacereño, a Segunda B team playing out of Extremadura, the autonomous community where Alegría was born.
Since then Alegría has bided his time, worked on his game and made progress until the opportunity came. That seemed to happen when it was time to let Jorge Molina go. After scoring 12 goals for Numancia in 2015/16, his chance came. And grab it with both hands he certainly did. In the first friendly match of the 2016/17 campaign against El Palo, Alegría scored a hat-trick in a 7-0 win.
He bagged another goal during the pre-season campaign to cement his place as one of the four main strikers of Gus Poyet’s squad alongside Rubén Castro, Antonio Sanabria and Roman Zozulya, after he had a conversation with Sporting Director Miguel Torrecilla.
He hasn’t rested on his laurels since his squad inclusion. Alegría has scored two goals against Granada (one in the video below) and had several stand-out performances against Valencia, Sevilla and more recently against Málaga where he was given a standing ovation. As he walked off he said it was “a dream to see the people shouting my name., I couldn’t believe it.”
Álex Alegría Fact File
||Alexánder Alegría Morena
||Plascencia, Cáceres, Extremadura
|Date of Birth
||10.10.1992 (age 23)
Style of Play, Heroes & Upbringing
As his height might suggest, Alegría is a ‘old fashioned’ type centre forward, can hold the ball up well, let the centre backs know he’s around and put them in a battle. He does get penalised quite a lot by the Spanish referees, who are over-zealous with any physical contact at the best of times, but he just gets on with it without a fuss.
However, he is far more than just a tall forward – “the feet are good too”, he recently said. To go with his good footwork he can find the back of the net with style, as his two goals against Granada demonstrate.
You can all 12 of his Numancia goals below in a video from Swedish fan Linus Lovgren.
He’s a natural talent who plays without fear. It doesn’t matter what central defenders he is up against, whether they are more experienced or come with a ‘name’, he just gets on with the job he has been asked to do.
Alegría is a grafter. In all four games he’s played this season he’s been a stand out player. Against Málaga he had a ‘partidazo’ – a great game. In the derbi against Sevilla although he lost the game, Alegría was a thorn in the side of Pareja and Mercado. He even scored a goal which should have earned Betis a draw but was wrongfully ruled offside by a linesman and referee who clearly need a trip to the opticians.
His grafting nature comes from his up-bringing. Brought up in rural Extremadura, this timid child who had a love for horses has grown into a strapping man with a bright footballing future. He was brought up with his feet on the ground and he still remains firmly grounded – credit to his family and friends.
As it happens he was also born in the same area of Extremadura as Spanish legend Fernando Morientes and takes a lot of inspiration from the former forward with a similar style of play. He also holds Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Fernando Llorente in very high regard, as discussed here.
So Why The Breakthrough Now For Alegría?
Alegría has worked his way up through all categories of football. From Segunda B with Cacereño to Betis B, then Segunda last year with Numancia to La Liga now with Real Betis first team. After signing a contract extension at Betis in 2015 to 2017, he was sent straight out on loan to Numancia where he scored 12 in 41.
It looks like the man from Plasencia will be getting a contract extension at the end of the season and has said this week that he won’t waste any time in signing to stay at the club.
He hasn’t been given anything on a silver platter, he’s earned his place through natural progression and his performances so far have demonstrated that the decision to have him as one of the four main strikers has been vindicated.
My hope for Betis is that they keep Alegría long term along with Tonny Sanabria who I hope can take over from Rubén Castro when he finally hangs up his boots; although that is a huge ask itself. These two ambitious, highly talented players could form the spearhead of a lethal Betis attack for years to come.
Mateo González of ABC de Sevilla has written this great piece on Alegría the timid kid – el chico tímido que se lo ha ganada.