|Full name||Rafael Alkorta Martínez|
|Date of birth||16 September 1968|
|Place of birth||Bilbao, Spain|
|Height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Born in Bilbao, Biscay, Alkorta began playing as a child with local Athletic Club in 1978, and made his senior debut with the second team seven years later, making 40 appearances before being promoted by Howard Kendall to the senior side for the 1987–88 season, making his debut in a 0–1 away defeat against Real Valladolid on 24 October 1987. He subsequently played 172 La Liga games, and established himself as an outstanding man marker.
Alkorta attracted the attention of Real Madrid, for whom he signed in the 1993–94 campaign. At the Bernabéu he formed a notable partnership with Fernando Hierro for club and country, and accumulated more than 150 official appearances and two league titles.
He returned to Athletic in 1997–98, swapping teams with fellow defender Aitor Karanka. He helped the Basque club finish second in the first season upon his return and went on to feature regularly in the following years but, after only six matches in 2001–02, decided to retire from the game aged nearly 34.
An international since 26 May 1990 (a 1–0 friendly away win with Yugoslavia), Alkorta gained 54 caps for Spain during the next eight years. He played in three FIFA World Cups – 1990, 1994 and 1998 – and UEFA Euro 1996, also representing the country at under-16, under-18 and under-21 levels.
In the first competition, in Italy, Alkorta played ten minutes in a 2–1 group stage win against Belgium, starting in a further 11 matches (ten complete) in the other senior tournaments combined.
Alkorta's younger brother Óscar was also a footballer. A fellow Athletic Bilbao youth graduate (alongside José Félix Guerrero who also had a more famous sibling in the first team), the younger Alkorta never made it past the reserves and played out his career in the third tier. The brothers were on the staff at Athletic together for a few months in 1997 between Rafael's return from Madrid and Óscar's move to CD Aurrerá de Vitoria.
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