The hugely likeable Costa Rican spent most of last season merely hanging around, courtesy of making only three appearances. Just as he demonstrated his value deputising for fellow World Cup performer Mikael Lustig – whose finals with Sweden finished later – in the 3-1 first leg Champions League second qualifying round victory against the pair’s former club on Thursday, so the same competition seemed to condemn the 28-year-old to shadowy squad figure status, the result of enduring a painful evening in the 3-0 thumping by Bayern Munich at the Allianz last November.
Gamboa’s solid displays for his country in the Russian finals appear to have altered perceptions but the player isn’t bitter at having been made the scapegoat for the Munich mauling.
“That’s okay, you need to take it,” he said. “You are a professional and they pay you for that. After a bad game they always come to pick out somebody and it tends to be the defenders. That’s okay.
“If you make a mistake or have a bad game you need to move on. That’s all in the past. You need to try to get better and perform in the next game you are given. I was always thinking about trying to be ready for the World Cup, keeping my mind clear. I was always positive. I see a lot of better things for me in the future so we will see what happens.
“Mika and I are different types of player so it depends on the system the gaffer wants to play. If you want an offensive full-back I’m here. If you want someone a little bit more defensive, more regular, then you have Mika. It depends what he wants. He has two good options, two World Cup players.”