A season in LaLiga, check. First appearance for Spain, check. Olympic medal, check. Premier League debut, check.

2021 was an eventful year for Álvaro Fernández. In fact, given the list above, that’s probably an understatement.

The Spanish ‘keeper, who joined Brentford on loan from Huesca in August, was thrust into the spotlight in October following an injury to fellow countryman David Raya.

Álvaro’s aforementioned Premier League debut – on a blustery afternoon in Burnley – provided a moment of realisation: this was going to be a very different challenge.

“We lost 3-1 and I didn’t play well,” Álvaro tells after some media duties in the home dressing room at Brentford Community Stadium. “It was box to box with lots of long kicks played behind the back of the defence. Football tests you sometimes, but the next day the sun appears and you have another opportunity to do your best.”

Álvaro exudes a level of maturity that belies his age. The 23-year-old has since made 12 appearances for The Bees and starred in our last home game against Aston Villa, denying Danny Ings’ at the death to ensure the three points remained in West London.

Álvaro on playing against Messi:

I don’t know what he has in his mind and in his feet, but when he touches the ball he always does something different. I played against him in two different games last season. In the first game I saved two great shots from him, then in the second game he scored two goals. I call it a draw! [Laughs] He’s incredible. He touches the ball and creates chances when other players cannot do it. He makes passes that others can’t see. It was amazing to face him.

Being part of Spain’s squad for the Olympic Games last summer:

It was an amazing and unique experience, one that I know I’m not going to live again. We got a silver medal. In football, when you lose a final, you are disappointed. You don’t think a silver medal is something special. But when times passes - that game was six months ago – and I see my silver medal in my living room, I realise that it’s massive. I was in Tokyo and won a silver medal, I appreciate this medal. It’s a piece of history for Spain.

And the importance of a strong mentality:

Football tests you sometimes, but the next day the sun appears and you have another opportunity to do your best. If you don’t have this ability, you cannot be a football player. Difficult moments help you mature as a player. It’s not easy when you come to another country and play in another league, but I feel more comfortable now. I feel more comfortable with my team-mates and our style of play. I feel like I have adapted and I am the ‘keeper I want to be. Obviously, I have to improve in a lot of aspects, but I am young and I have a lot of time to learn and improve. I try to enjoy every day at the training ground and every game that we play. I am very grateful for the opportunity that Brentford has given me.

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