Ricardo Iván Rodríguez Araya is a Swiss professional footballer who plays as a left back for the Switzerland national team. He has been described as an accomplished defender and is noted for his strong heading ability, and ability to deliver pinpoint crosses. Rodríguez is also noted for his speciality in set piece situations and for penalty-taking abilities. Born to a Spanish father and a Chilean mother of Basque descent, Rodríguez began his professional career at local club FC Zürich in 2010, having spent eight years in the youth setup. After breaking through into the first team at Zürich, Rodríguez was sold to VfL Wolfsburg in January 2012 for £7.5 million. He played 184 games across all competitions for Wolfsburg, scoring 22 goals and winning the DFB-Pokal and DFL-Supercup in 2015. In 2017, he signed for A.C. Milan. Rodríguez has earned caps at every level of the Swiss national team setup, winning the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2009. A full international for Switzerland since 2011, Rodríguez has earned over 60 caps for the country. He was part of the Swiss team at the 2012 Olympics, the 2014 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup. In 2014, he was voted Swiss Footballer of the Year.
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Rodríguez was born in Zürich to a Spanish father and a Chilean mother. His mother, Marcela Araya, died of cancer in 2015. Rodriguez had the number 68, the year of her birth, tattooed on his back. Rodriguez was born with a diaphragmatic hernia, meaning that his stomach, spleen, liver and intestine had migrated into the chest. Rodriguez was given a 50% chance of survival and was monitored every six months for the first three years of his life. He is the younger brother of KFC Uerdingen 05 midfielder Roberto Rodríguez and the older brother of midfielder Francisco Rodríguez, who plays for FC Luzern. Due to his wide range of skills, Rodríguez is known for being equally adept at defending as he is going forward. Although usually a left-back, his size and physique have also seen him be deployed as a centre-back on occasion. Experts consider him as an accomplished defender and note his strong heading ability, as well his personality. He is also considered a continual attacking threat, and has been noted by analysts for his exceptional stamina and pace, which allow for his constant, buccaneering runs up the wing; he has also drawn praise from pundits for rarely conceding careless fouls. Conversely, he has been criticized for giving too much room to opposition attackers, taking up poor positioning and lacking in defensive discipline, while other analysts have criticized his concentration. Possessing good technique and distribution, he has become known for his pinpoint crossing and accurate left foot, which have earned him comparisons with Everton and England left back Leighton Baines. He is also noted for his speciality in dead ball situations, such as corner kicks, direct free kicks, and indirect free kicks, as well as for his excellent penalty taking abilities, emerging as Wolfsburg’s first-choice penalty taker during the 2013–14 season. In 2014, his manager Dieter Hecking praised Rodríguez as “the best left-back in the Bundesliga”.