Gabi (footballer, born 1983)

Gabriel Fernández Arenas (Spanish pronunciation: [ɡaˈβɾjel feɾˈnandeθ aˈɾenas]; born 10 July 1983), known as Gabi ([ˈɡaβi]), is a Spanish former professional footballer who played as a defensive midfielder.

Gabi with Atlético Madrid in 2018
Personal information
Full name Gabriel Fernández Arenas
Date of birth (1983-07-10) 10 July 1983 (age 37)[1]
Place of birth Madrid, Spain[1]
Height 1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)[1]
Position(s) Midfielder
Youth career
San Eladio
Atlético Madrid
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2002–2004 Atlético Madrid B 46 (4)
2004–2007 Atlético Madrid 58 (1)
2004–2005Getafe (loan) 32 (2)
2007–2011 Zaragoza 135 (16)
2011–2018 Atlético Madrid 239 (6)
2018–2020 Al Sadd 35 (0)
Total 545 (29)
National team
2003 Spain U20 7 (1)
2004–2005 Spain U21 12 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

He made 429 La Liga appearances, mostly in two spells at Atlético Madrid interspersed with a period at Zaragoza, winning domestic and European silverware with the former. During his ten-year stint at the club, he amassed competitive totals of 414 matches and ten goals. He also competed professionally in Qatar, with Al Sadd.

Gabi represented Spain at youth level.

Club career

Atlético Madrid

Gabi was born in Madrid. A product of Atlético Madrid's youth system, he was seldom used during his debut season with the Colchoneros' first team.

After a loan to another club in the capital, Getafe CF, Gabi would make 52 La Liga appearances for the club from 2005 to 2007, scoring his only goal in a 1–1 away draw against RCD Espanyol on 9 April 2006.[2]


In early February 2007, Gabi joined Real Zaragoza on a 9 million transfer, agreeing to a four-year contract effective as of July.[3] He was an undisputed starter in his first year, but the Aragonese were relegated from the top flight.

Defensive-minded Gabi netted four times in 35 games in the 2008–09 campaign, as his team immediately regained their lost status. In the following season he again was an automatic first choice, helping to a final 14th position.

Again a starter in the 2010–11, only missing matches due to suspension, Gabi scored a career-best 11 goals as Zaragoza again escaped relegation,[4] six from penalties – he was also their captain. On 12 March 2011, he scored twice from the spot in a 4–0 home win against Valencia CF.[5] On 30 April, he converted a penalty in a 3–2 victory away to Real Madrid[6] and, on the last matchday, scored twice from open play in a 2–1 win at Levante UD that secured his team's top-flight status.[7]

Atlético return

Gabi in 2017

On 1 July 2011, Gabi returned to Atlético Madrid on a transfer fee of around €3 million.[8] He scored his first goal for the team on 4 December, in a 3–1 home win against Rayo Vallecano – adding one in his own net[9]– and started most of his first season in his second spell, partnering fellow youth graduate Mario Suárez in defensive midfield.

Gabi played 45 official matches in the 2012–13 campaign, including seven in the club's victorious run in the Copa del Rey, the first in 17 years.[10] He was also selected by manager Diego Simeone as the new captain.[11]

On 17 May 2014, in the away match to FC Barcelona that was the last of the season, Gabi took a 49th-minute corner kick which was headed in by Diego Godín to equalise 1–1, and give Atlético its first league title since 1996.[12] On 4 July, he signed a new contract that kept him at the club until 2017.[13]

In the second leg of a domestic cup quarter-final against Barcelona on 28 January 2015, Gabi was sent off in the tunnel at the end of the first half. His midfield partner Suárez was also dismissed later on, in an eventual 2–3 home defeat.[14] On 7 October 2016 the 33-year-old inked a new contract until June 2018, commenting on the deal: "I always say that playing with Atlético de Madrid was my childhood dream, so I cannot ask for more than what I am living these years."[15]

Gabi scored his first goal of the season – from 49 appearances – on 16 May 2018,[16] netting from close range after an assist from Koke in the last minute of the Europa League final against Olympique de Marseille, a 3–0 win in Lyon.[17]

Al Sadd

Gabi moved abroad for the first time on 2 July 2018, with the 34-year-old signing a two-year contract at Qatar Stars League club Al Sadd SC.[18][19] He partnered veteran compatriot Xavi in midfield, and won the league in their first season together.[20]

On 15 June 2020, Gabi left the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium.[21] On 29 November, he announced his retirement.[22]

International career

Gabi was selected in José Ufarte's Spain squad at the 2003 FIFA U-20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, finishing as runners-up to Brazil. He scored the first goal of their opening game, a 2–1 loss to Argentina in Sharjah.[23]

Style of play

Known for his tackling ability as well as his combativeness and hard work, Gabi could both break down opposition attack and dictate play with the ball with equal effectiveness. He was also known to be proficient when in possession, capable of delivering through balls and distributing the ball at both long and short lengths.[24]

Career statistics

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition[25][26]
Club Season League Cup League Cup Continental Other Total
Atlético Madrid 2003–04 La Liga 601070
2004–05 00003[lower-alpha 1]030
2005–06 32110331
2006–07 20020220
Total 5814030651
Getafe (loan) 2004–05 La Liga32220342
Zaragoza 2007–08 La Liga320302[lower-alpha 2]0370
2008–09 Segunda División35400354
2009–10 La Liga 32120341
2010–11 3610213811
Total 13516712014416
Atlético Madrid 2011–12 La Liga 3121017[lower-alpha 2]1493
2012–13 350802[lower-alpha 2]01[lower-alpha 3]0460
2013–14 3637012[lower-alpha 4]02[lower-alpha 5]0573
2014–15 340517[lower-alpha 4]02[lower-alpha 5]0481
2015–16 3514013[lower-alpha 4]0511
2016–17 3405011[lower-alpha 4]0500
2017–18 3403013[lower-alpha 6]1501
Total 2396331752503529
Al Sadd 2018–19 Qatar Stars League 21030309[lower-alpha 7]0360
2019–20 14020108[lower-alpha 7]06[lower-alpha 8]0310
Total 350504017060670
Career total 499245124097211066228
  1. Appearance(s) in UEFA Intertoto Cup
  2. Appearance(s) in UEFA Europa League
  3. Appearance in UEFA Super Cup
  4. Appearance(s) in UEFA Champions League
  5. Appearance(s) in Supercopa de España
  6. Five appearances in UEFA Champions League, eight appearances and one goal in UEFA Europa League
  7. Appearance(s) in AFC Champions League
  8. One appearance in Sheikh Jassim Cup, three appearances in FIFA Club World Cup, two appearances in Qatar Cup



Atlético Madrid

Al Sadd


Spain U20



  1. "Gabi". Eurosport. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  2. Morales, Gabriel (9 April 2006). "El Espanyol desenmascara la escasa ambición del Atlético" [Espanyol unmask little Atlético ambition]. El Mundo (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  3. "Zaragoza move early to get Gabi". UEFA. 5 February 2007. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  4. "El Zaragoza hace oficial el traspaso de Gabi al Atlético" [Zaragoza make transfer of Gabi to Atlético official]. Heraldo de Aragón (in Spanish). 1 July 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  5. "Zaragoza crush Valencia". ESPN Soccernet. 12 March 2011. Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  6. "Zaragoza end Real title dream". ESPN Soccernet. 30 April 2011. Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  7. "Zaragoza end drop fears". ESPN Soccernet. 21 May 2011. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  8. "El Zaragoza hace oficial traspaso de Gabi al Atlético" [Zaragoza make Gabi transfer official]. Diario AS (in Spanish). 1 July 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
  9. Villalobos, Fran (3 December 2011). "Aperitivo de calidad que no llena" [Five-star appetizer leaves begging for more]. Marca (in Spanish). Retrieved 3 December 2011.
  10. Johnston, Neil (17 May 2013). "Jose Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo off in Real Madrid loss". BBC Sport. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  11. G. Medina, David (24 March 2013). "Gabi: "No me veo en otro equipo que no sea el Atlético"" [Gabi: "I can't see myself in any other team than Atlético"]. Marca (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  12. Martin, Richard (17 May 2014). "Barcelona 1 Atletico Madrid 1, La Liga: match report". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  13. "Transfer news: Atletico Madrid captain Gabi signs contract extension". Sky Sports. 4 July 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  14. Reddy, Luke (28 January 2015). "Atl Madrid 2–3 Barcelona". BBC Sport. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  15. "Atletico skipper Gabi extends contract till 2018". The Sports Campus. 8 October 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  16. Stein, Leandro (16 May 2018). "Torres, Gabi e uma imagem à posteridade: Os meninos que se tornaram símbolos do clube de coração" [Torres, Gabi and a picture for the ages: The boys who became symbols of their loved club] (in Portuguese). Universo Online. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  17. Hafez, Shamoon (16 May 2018). "Marseille 0–3 Atlético Madrid". BBC Sport. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  18. "Gabi deja el Atlético de Madrid y se va a Qatar" [Gabi leaves Atlético de Madrid and goes to Qatar]. 20 minutos (in Spanish). 28 June 2018. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  19. "Gabi eager to start Al Sadd adventure". Asian Football Confederation. 3 July 2018. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  20. Prada, Jon (4 April 2019). "Xavi and Gabi win the Qatar Stars League with Al Sadd". Marca. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  21. "Gabi bids farewell to Al Sadd". Asian Football Confederation. 16 June 2020. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  22. Brennan, Feargal (29 November 2020). "Former Atletico Madrid captain Gabi Fernandez retires". Football España. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  23. "Los sub-20 caen ante la selección albiceleste" [Under-20s fall to albiceleste national team]. El Mundo (in Spanish). 28 November 2003. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  24. Matchett, Karl (29 July 2015). "Why Gabi is the most frustrating player in the Atletico Madrid squad". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  25. "Gabi: Gabriel Fernández Arenas". BDFutbol. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  26. "Gabi". Soccerway. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  27. "Sheikh Jassim Cup to kick off new season". The Peninsula. 18 April 2019. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  28. "The Liga BBVA team of the season". La Liga. 19 May 2014. Archived from the original on 5 December 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  29. "UEFA Champions League squad of the season". UEFA. 2 June 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  30. "UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season". UEFA. 30 May 2016. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  31. "UEFA Europa League Squad of the 2017/18 Season". UEFA. 17 May 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2018.