Player name in full: Pablo Javier Zabaleta Girod
To/from dates: 2008-2017
Number of appearances: 333
Goals scored: 12
Biography and City Career:
Pablo Javier Zabaleta Girod was born on 16 January 1985 in Buenos Aires, capital city of Argentina. He grew up in Arrecifes, a small town around 200km from the capital. Before being scouted at the age of 10, he spent his early days playing football and horse riding. He then left home to go back to the capital to try his luck with San Lorenzo.
In the summer of 2008, Zabaleta joined City from Espanyol and transferred to the UK completing a five-year deal with the club, after rejecting an offer from the Italian side Juventus F.C.
Zabaleta made his debut for City on 13 September 2008, against Chelsea at the City of Manchester Stadium. He scored his first goal on 17 January 2009. In November 2011 Zabaleta extended his contract with the Blues until the summer of 2015.
At the end of the 2012 -2013 season, Zabaleta was the only City player to appear in the Premier League PFA Team of the year for 2012/13
Zabaleta won all of English football’s major honours whilst at Manchester City: the Premier League (2011-12, 2013-14), the FA Cup (2010-11), the Football League Cup (2013-14, 2015-16) and the FA Community Shield (2012).
After his final appearance for City on 16 May 2017 against West Bromwich Albion, Zabaleta was praised by manager Pep Guardiola as a “legend” and was given a lifetime Manchester City season ticket. He joined West Ham United on 26th May 2017.
Zabaleta joined the club the day before it was bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group.
The defender scored the first goal in City’s historical 3-2 win over Queens Park Rangers on the final matchday of the 2011-12 season, which secured the Premier League title for the first time for Manchester City.
Amongst his individual football awards with the club are: the Etihad Player of the Month (won in December 2012) and the Etihad Player of the Year (2012-13).
Zabaleta began his career in 1995, joining the Obras Sanitarias academy. Two years later he was scouted by San Lorenzo. He signed his first contract with the club in 2002. In 2005, Pablo left Argentina when he signed a three-year contract for Espanyol.
From 2005 to 2016, Zabaleta made 58 appearances for the Argentinian National Football Team. The defender won a gold medal with the national side at the 2008 Olympic Games.
In the summer of 2018, Zabaleta worked as a pundit for the BBC’s Match of the Day World Cup reporting team in Russia.