DAVID 'DUDU' AOUATE

Squad Number 07/08: 1
Date of Birth: 17 October, 1977
Nationality: Israel/France
Contract: 2006 - 2010
Transfer: Exchange for Pedro Munitis (2006). Deal also includes Antonio Tomás (ex-Racing) and loan outs of Momo and Rubén.
Previous Clubs: Racing Santander (2003-2006), Maccabi Haïfa (2001-2003), Hapoël Haïfa (1998-2001), Maccabi Haïfa
Buy-out Clause: ??
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Position: Goalkeeper

AOUATE'S move to Deportivo was a real soap opera during the summer of 2006. In the end, after a personal battle of Aouate against Racing's officials and several weeks of negotiations, Lendoiro fulfilled a multiple-operation that included the exit of Pedro Munitis to the Cantabrian club and the signing of Antonio Tomás. But in the year after Aouate quickly paid back the confidence of Deportivo with an excellent season 2006/2007. As an experienced goalkeeper, Aouate will become a fundamental part in Depor’s quest for new glory.

Deportivo might be the club where Aouate will finish his career, as the Israeli goalkeeper has expressed his satisfaction about his time at the club on several occasions. But becoming a professional player al began in a really curious way. He was far from the world of football during his days as a teenager. Aouate preferred to pass the time riding horses and even playing hockey. But suddenly his life changed. A friend invited him to play football at school. The school squad was needing a goalkeeper and his friend encouraged him to occupy the vacancy. He enjoyed the experience and soon Aouate was training and playing as a goalkeeper.

He arrived at Maccabi Haifa at an early age and was put behind Nir Davidovich as his replacement. Tired of waiting for a chance Aouate decided to move to Maccabi Tel-Aviv, but again didn’t play much. Then he was transferred again, this time to Hapoel Haifa. Aouate made that move because he of high chances of becoming the team's first choice goalkeeper. But again he found himself struggling to establish himself as such. His third time wasn’t lucky. Early during the 1998/1999 season the regular goalkeeper, Avi Peretz, suffered an injury and Aouate took his place. Hapoel won the championship that year and Dudu (as he is nicknamed) was praised for his performances. By the time Peretz was recovered, Aouate was irreplaceable.

In 2002 Aouate returned to Maccabi Haifa as the replacement of another seriously injured goalkeeper. Maccabi won the championship, and the Aouate established himself as the natural first choice. He also gained increasing recognition after performing fabulously for the national team of Israel since 1999, and soon was considered by many people the best goalkeeper in the country. During that 2002/2003 campaign, Aouate was the goalie for Maccabi Haifa as they played in the UEFA Champions League; the first time an Israeli squad made it to the group stage of the competition. Haifa finished third in their group following a historic victory over favourites Manchester United. In the Israeli league, Haifa finished the season in second place. The keeper's solid performances earned him a move to Spain when Racing de Santander signed him on July 17, 2003. There he was joined by his countrymen Afek and Benayoun and played together with Bodipo and Juanma. But once again Aouate had to come from far. At Racing he was Ricardo's replacement and played only four Liga matches during the season 2003/2004. One of them was their 0-1 home defeat against Deportivo on the final day of the season. Racing barely escaped relegation that season and saw Ricardo leaving. Now Aouate was the starting goalkeeper of Racing during the season 2004/2005 and missed just one match. This number he repeated during the season 2005/2006. Aouate impressed with his performances and even fought for the Zamora trophy; an outstanding achievement keeping in mind that Racing were struggling to avoid relegation during those two campaigns. In his final season at the club he made name with penalty saves against Real Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona including denying FIFA World Player of the Year (2004, 2005) Ronaldinho.

Deportivo president Lendoiro noticed his skills (like Barcelona did) and together with coach Caparrós decided that Aouate was the best choice for Depor’s Centenario season. Depor had to act because Molina announced he would finish his career at another club while the financial offer for an extension didn’t satisfy ‘eternal substitute’ goalkeeper Dani Mallo. Because Caparrós didn’t had too much faith in Uruguayan goalie Munúa as first goalkeeper, the strange situation existed that for weeks during the summer of 2006 the squad was without goalkeepers. A curious fact also because the club were signing about two players per week those summer months.

The ‘obstacle’ was Racing’s president Francisco Pernía. He simply refused to negotiate with Deportivo for Aouate, although the contract of the goalkeeper would end in 2007. All talks were leading to nothing until Pernía proposed an exchange with Racing legend Pedro Munitis. Pernía was building a new squad in Santander and the Cantabrian winger was his main desire. The news of Munitis’ possible departure infuriated Caparrós, but Lendoiro finally closed the deal keeping in mind that Munitis was back then one of the best paid players at the club. After several weeks of tough negotiations, Aouate could finally take up the difficult task to replace Molina and legendary figures like Liaño and Songo’o. A difficult job to fulfil, but that Aouate is willing to accomplish. After all, he has came from behind at all his past clubs.

His first season at Deportivo, on a personal level, couldn’t have been much better. The team finished thirteenth in the Liga and their style left a rather poor impression. But Aouate survived that difficult season. In fact, hadn’t it been for Aouate it could well have been that Deportivo could have been close to relegation football. Simply because of the fact that he earned points for Deportivo. Aouate played the Liga season 2006/2007 from the first to the last minute leaving Munúa no chance. That meant that Aouate was in the team which caused the worst defensive performance of Deportivo since returning to the Primera in 1991: during the final weeks of 2006, the team leaked 12 goals at Osasuna, Valencia and Sevilla. But it’s unlikely that another goalkeeper could have prevented this fiasco.

As said, Aouate was winning more points for the team than he was losing them. His best performance, without a doubt, was on 28 January 2007 at Real Zaragoza (1-1). Newspapers wrote that Aouate almost by himself miraculously earned Deportivo a point with about ten crucial saves. Zaragoza only were able to beat him from the penalty spot. Aouate even received applause from the Racing supporters when his fine performance in this away match (0-0) earned Deportivo another point. On the international level Aouate made headlines in the British press when Israel achieved a scoreless draw against England.

The fanclub of Deportivo-La-Coruna.com elected Aouate as their Player of the Year 2006/2007. Not surprisingly he also won a second of the in total three awards: Best Newcomer 2006/2007. It’s a curious fact that with being elected Depor’s best player he’s succeeding Pedro Munitis who won that award in both 2004/2005 and 2005/2006. Both men were exchanged. During the season 2006/2007, Aouate kept 16 clean sheets in 38 matches (almost half of the Liga matches played in a difficult season). Four of them were in the first seven matches of the season. Another four out of six he achieved in March and April. His best serie he started at that famous Zaragoza match. Milito’s goal from the spot with twelve minutes remaining was only followed by a goal of Betis’ Fernando 451 Liga minutes later. Don Balón, a Spanish football magazine, placed Aouate eighth on their list of Footballer of the Year 2006/2007 for the Primera División.

Dudu’s fine season didn’t go unnoticed to other clubs. In fact, it was well-known that Deportivo had to sell one of their best players to earn fresh cash, and the players most mentioned were Jorge Andrade and Aouate. Especially from the English Premiership there was interest and Bolton Wanderers were mentioned. But Aouate himself (29 at the time) wasn’t interested in moving on. Even after the difficult 2006/2007 season he said that “I am happy here at Deportivo and would like to end my career here. I still have three years of contract left, and let’s see if it will be extended by the club. With signing here I fulfilled a dream and now I want to succeed, not to go from club to club every year. Besides, I also have a family. For now I hope that we see a strong Deportivo team for the season 2007/2008 and in the end we start fighting for titles again. In came here to be part of the new project and let’s continue with it. The fans deserve a great team. Despite some very bad matches they keep supporting us”. It seems that Deportivo have found their goalkeeper for the next years.
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