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09 June, 2006

HURTADO Ivan from Ecuador.At 1.80m and 78kg, this combative defender puts his height and bulk to good effect at either end of the pitch, but he proves something of a gentle giant in his personal life.

Name:  HURTADO Ivan

Date of birth:  16 August 1974

Height:  180 cm

Weight:  77 kg

Position:  Defender

Current Club:  Al Arabi (QAT)

Int'l Goals:   5 (as of 5-Jun-2006)

Int'l Caps:  130 (as of 5-Jun-2006)

First Int'l Cap:  Guatemala v. Ecuador (24-May-1992)

Detail:  Ivan Hurtado is one of those players destined to achieve talismanic status at international level. It is a role that the talented centre-half has taken on with ease, both on the field as his country’s inspirational captain, and off it as well. At 1.80m and 78kg, this combative defender puts his height and bulk to good effect at either end of the pitch, but he proves something of a gentle giant in his personal life.

Hurtado was born on 16 August 1974 in Esmeraldas, where he has set up a foundation that provides a haven for 150 homeless children in the city. “I will never stop trying to bring a little happiness into their lives,” says the man who has become the most capped footballer in Ecuador’s history.

He represented his country for the first time at 14 after being selected for a South American U-16 tournament that was held on home turf. Hurtado made his way through the national ranks between 1991 and 1996 and it was during this time that he was called up by his mentor, Drusan Draskovic, for his full international debut in a friendly against Guatemala on 24 May 1992. “I’d just turned 17 and I was still playing for the U-20s,” Hurtado recalls. “That never bothered me, though. I have always done whatever was asked of me for the national side, and I always will.”

The man they call Bam Bam has now made the captain’s armband his own, having earned a reputation as a defender of some class. A superb reader of the game adept at playing the ball out of defence, Hurtado’s aerial prowess also draws admiration. It came as little surprise, therefore, when he took his place in the illustrious FIFA Century Club, which, as the name suggests, consists of a select band of players who have made 100 appearances or more for their countries.

Having taken part in the last five editions of the CONMEBOL Copa America and four FIFA World Cup qualifying tournaments, Hurtado, who has never been red-carded in his international career, boasts a mightily impressive CV. He was an ever-present in the heroic qualifying campaigns for Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006 and was on the field for every minute of the Tricolor’s three-match Asian adventure four years ago. “I never thought I’d even reach 100 international caps, let alone go beyond that figure,” he said on achieving that milestone. “It’s a wonderful and amazing achievement for me.”

At club level, Hurtado made his debut as a mere 14-year-old with Esmeraldas Petrolero in 1988. Four seasons later he joined city rivals Emelec, where he enjoyed two league championship triumphs. In 1995 he moved on to pastures new at Atletico Celaya in Mexico, helping the club to a league runners-up spot before joining domestic rivals Tigres UANL in 1999. After a short stay with La Piedad in 2001, he enjoyed a relatively successful two-year spell back at home with Barcelona, during which time the Guayaquil club finished Ecuadorian league runners-up in 2002 and 2003. Spain’s Real Murcia then came calling, but a season later he was back in Mexico for an equally short stint with Pachuca - one which ended in 2005 when he joined his current club, Al Arabi in Qatar.

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