Austria will depend on this 'gift from heaven'
BORN to a Nigerian father and a Filipino mother, David Alaba is an unlikely poster boy for an Austrian national team soaring to unprecedented new heights.
Raised in Vienna, he left his hometown just after turning 16 to join Bayern Munich's youth academy.
Pep Guardiola has tipped
Alaba, 23, to become "a future all-time best in the club's history". Quick, versatile and deadly from set-pieces, he is also the undisputed star of an Austrian side who had until recently spent years languishing in the international wilderness.
"He's just incredible, he's just... wow. He can play absolutely everywhere," said Guardiola who will take over at Manchester City next season.
He is expected to make a push to bring Alaba, who only recently extended his Bayern contract until 2021, to the Premier League alongside him.
A precocious talent, he was also eligible to represent Nigeria, the Philippines and Germany but was thrust into the Austrian national team aged just 17 years and 112 days to become the youngest to play for the country.
He again sent records tumbling when he made his Bayern debut a few months later, laying on an assist for Franck
Ribery with his first touch in a 6-2 German Cup victory over Greuther Fuerth.
He scooped the Austrian footballer of the year award in 2011 as the youngest-ever recipient. He has gone on to win the award for five straight years, with former Bayern manager Ottmar Hitzfeld describing Alaba "as a gift from the heavens".
Recognition of his ability has stretched around Europe as well. Alaba was named to Uefa's Team of the Year in 2013, Bayern's historic treble-winning season, and 2014.
Far from a prolific scorer at club level, Alaba has proven much more of a threat for his country with 11 goals in 44 appearances, including four during Austria's impressive Euro 2016 campaign.
They reeled off nine straight wins after a 1-1 draw with Sweden.
His list of honours include having won the Bundesliga, German Cup, Champions League and Club World Cup during his time at Bayern.
But Alaba may find international success harder to get.
He will shoulder a growing weight of expectation in France but says it will not be a strain. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE