Category Archives: profiles

la otra selección – Fernando Hierro

I really don’t think Fernando Hierro needs an introduction, nor do I have to tell who he is, so here is a very brief description of Hierro.

Fernando is currently the sporting director of the RFEF, a position he has held since late 2007.  Fernando is from Málaga, and is a former footballer – a central defender -, mostly at Real Madrid (1989-2003), as well as with the Spanish national team (1989-2002).  He captained both those teams, and won a variety of silverware with Madrid, including five Ligas and three Champions Leagues.  Interestingly enough, he was let go by Real Madrid at the same time that current Spain coach Vicente del Bosque was, and the two of them have reunited to bring success to Spain.

For more on Fernando, go read his El País Q&A here!

la otra selección – the chefs

Another two very important and beloved members of Team España are the two chefs, Javier Arbizu (right) and Patxi Belandia (left).  We’ve met Arbizu before, and we’ve seen him hang out with the two lions, but let’s get to know him even more!

Javier Arbizu is from Ciordia, Navarra, has been married “for so many years that I don’t remember how long,” and has three children.  He was a “bad student,” so he turned to cooking.  He went to San Sebastián in 1964 to learn the trade, and he worked for 10 years at the legendary restaurant of Juanito Kojua, as well as with Ignacio Gárate at the Hotel María Cristina.  In 1974, he took charge of restaurant El Salduba.  In 1991, he began collaborating with the RFEF when Vicente Miera was coach.  In 1994, he left El Salduba and went to work exclusively for the RFEF for health and family reasons.  At one point, Javier also worked for Real Sociedad, where he presumably met Juan Luis Larrea, who would later on ask him to collaborate with the federation.

This World Cup was Javier’s fifth, to go along with four Eurocopas and three Olympic Games.  He also cooks for the other teams of the RFEF.

Paxti Belandia is Javier’s assistant, and collaborates from time to time with the RFEF.  He’s from the old part of San Sebastián, and started off in the txokos, learning a lot from Fernando Tierno.

In South Africa, their typical day started at nine in the morning.  The two would have breakfast together and plan the day.  They work from 09h to 14:30h, and then from 18h to 21:30h.  There were a total of 12 people working in the kitchen, including two translators, one working in the kitchen and the other as the link between the kitchen and dining room.

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la otra selección – los utilleros

Antonio Guerra (left), Damián García (center) and Joaquín Retamosa (right) are the three utilleros, literally prop managers.  They’re the ones in charge of all the clothing, equipment and other materials the team needs and brings along with them wherever they go, as well as distributing all that clothing and equipment to the team, and keeping things organized.

In South Africa, the team took along with them 3,000 kg of official La Roja wear (see a breakdown here.  Looking back, I wonder how much use the swimsuits got?).  Then there was a couple of thousands of kilos of other material, including press materials, medical supplies…  At least this time, they didn’t have to bring any food, as most of the produce was locally sourced.

Damián García is the most veteran of the three, with 24 years of experience, and this World Cup was his fifth.  He worked with the youth teams before, and has his own transportation company.  After the World Cup, he got to be the person who inaugurated the celebrations held by the town of Candelario (Salamanca) in honor of their patron Santa Ana on July 21.  He was also named a favorite son of Sorihuela (Salamanca).

Antonio “Toni” Guerra is in charge of packing the suitcases (sacks and containers) with all the game wear, the training wear, winter clothing if necessary, underwear…  The only things the players themselves are in charge of are their own shinguards and boots (five pairs each in South Africa), plus their personal effects, of course.

Joaquín Retamosa is the third equipment manager, and the newest one.  He joined in 2008, after Vicente del Bosque took over.

Watch a video of Toni talking about his job here, and keep reading for more information on the clothing, as well as descriptions of all 23 players, according to the utilleros!

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la otra selección – the team delegates

Today’s profiles focus on the three delegates of the team.  They are Pedro Cortés, Juan Luis Larrea and Luis Uranga, and in this World Cup, they served as the link between the RFEF, FIFA and the World Cup organizing committee.  Normally, two out of the three travel with the team, and one of those two is always with the team if anything happens, such as a problem with the training field or if a player has an issue with a family member.  The other accompanies RFEF president Ángel María Villar in official acts.  In South Africa, Cortés and Uranga traveled with the team, and Larrea joined them later on when Villar came to South Africa.

You probably know Pedro Cortés (left) as the man that Gerard Piqué so elegantly spat on during the World Cup celebration in Madrid.  But there’s a lot more to him.  Cortés was born in Valencia in 1948, although he and his family moved to Germany when he was 12 to look for a better future.  Cortés was a football player and coach for 13 years for regional teams in Valencia, and also held a directors position in Valencia CF, where he would also become president, twice.

In 2002, the RFEF asked him to come over, and he accepted.  He describes his job there as “solving problems and trying not to create them.”  Cortés was good friends with Luis Aragonés, and said that each time Luis asked him something football-related, their conversations always ended the same.  Luis would tell him, “you have no idea, no fucking idea,” Pedro would reply, “so why did you ask me?” and Luis would laugh.  As for Vicente del Bosque, Cortés considers him “a gentleman.”  Pedro believes the success of the team is due to one Xavi Hernández, “el dueño del balón.”

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la otra selección – the trip coordinator

Today’s profile focuses on Antonio Limones, the man responsible for coordinating all the travel arrangements of La Roja.  This World Cup was the fifth that he organized for Spain in this area.

Antonio was born in Madrid in 1959, and studied tourism, working in various travel agencies before the RFEF came calling in 2001, although he had begun working with the RFEF in 1991 when he was still at the travel agency arm of El Corte Inglés.  Now at the RFEF, Antonio is responsible for searching for hotels, training fields, gyms, airports, places to buy food, etc. wherever La Roja travels to.  During the Eurocopa, he also organized between 600-700 trips for the families and friends of the players.

In this World Cup, Antonio checked out about 30 places before deciding on Potchefstroom as Spain’s HQ.  Potch was chosen because the players could go to the training sessions on foot, and because the airport was five minutes away.

He’s also known for being a miracle maker, and says of his work, “the best part is overcoming challenges.”

His friends add, “he had no idea about football before, but now he talks like he’s Aragonés.”

la otra selección – the readaptor

Today’s post on the people behind the scenes focuses on Hugo Camarero, the physical readaptor of the team.  His principle job is to work with players who are recovering from injuries to make sure that they can reincorporate correctly into the team.

Hugo is 31 years old and is from Burgos.  His father is the second cousin of Miguel Ángel Portugal, who was Racing’s coach in the 2006-07 season, and the team from Cantabria offered Hugo an internship that season, to see if he would like working with a professional football club and to help out their fitness trainer, one Javier Miñano.  At the end of the season, Hugo received an offer to continue with the team, and in the 2007-08 season, he worked with the youth teams of the club.

Hugo then went on to do two masters degrees, one in sports administration and the other in injury recovery, both offered by the Spanish Football Federation at their headquarters in Las Rozas.  And so it was no surprise, with all his links to the RFEF, that when Vicente del Bosque told Javier Miñano to find him a physical readaptor for the national team, that Hugo Camarero came to mind.  And of course, Hugo accepted the position.

We saw Hugo working a lot with Andrés Iniesta in the first several days in South Africa, when Andrés was recovering from his hamstring injury.  Whatever he did must have worked really, really well, because we know how the rest of Andrés’ World Cup turned out!

la otra selección – the ‘spies’

We’re really going behind the scenes now!  We’ve finished looking at everyone that sits on the bench with the players, but there are still a lot of other people that make up the delegation and work behind the scenes.

Today, it’s the turn of the two men responsible for studying Spain’s rivals, Francisco “Paco” Jiménez and Antonio Fernández, and the man who helps them out with audiovisuals, Pablo Peña.  They work closely together to produce reports about the rivals’ games and how they play.  In addition, they keep track of the Spanish players and how the team plays. Vicente del Bosque uses all this information to prepare games and to decide which players to call up.

Paco (above left) should be familiar to Real Madrid fans.  Even if you don’t know who he is, I’m sure you’ll recognize his face.  He worked for many years as an assistant coach at the Bernabéu, under the likes of Heynckes, Toschack, Capello, Hiddink and of course Vicente del Bosque (he also followed VDB to Turkey to work at Beşiktaş).  At Madrid, Paco also worked with the youth teams and drew up reports about rivals for the first team.  Paco was also an assistant to former Real Madrid coach Mariano García Remón at Cádiz.

Antonio (above right) works alongside Paco as the national team’s two “spies.”  He’s from Jerez de la Frontera, and at the age of 21, became the president of the football club in Guadalcacín, a job that he carried out while also serving as the team’s coach.  He then worked for UD Rota before Sevilla came calling to make him their technical secretary, a post he would hold for six years.  Then it was on to Xerez, then Valencia, and then Tottenham with Juande Ramos.  At that point, Fernando Hierro came calling.

Both wanted Spain to advance to the final, because it was the only game of Spain’s that they could watch – during all other games, they were off studying the rivals.

Pablo Peña (above, in the red shirt, next to Antonio Fernández) is in charge of all the audiovisual aspects, and so he can usually be found next to a computer or three.  He produces videos of Spain’s rivals for Paco and Antonio to analyze, as well as information about Spain – they have their own cameras at training sessions and games that produce videos from different angles.  Once all this information is analyzed and prepared, it’s given to Vicente del Bosque to study.  Pablo also produces the videos of the rival that the team studies before each game.

Watch Antonio and Pablo talk about their jobs:

la otra selección – los fisios

Team España also includes four physiotherapists, the men responsible for helping the players prevent and recover from injuries.  Aka the men who are allowed to get extremely close to the players.

The four fisios are Raúl Martínez, Fernando Galán, Juan Carlos Herranz and Miguel Gutiérrez.  In the picture above, starting from the far left, are Juan Carlos Herranz, Fernando Galán and Raúl Martínez.  Miguel Gutiérrez is the one with the salt and pepper hair and beard, sixth from the left.

And know we know who everyone in the picture is!  From left to right, we have the three fisios Juan Carlos, Fernando and Raúl, then the two doctors Cota and Celada, the fourth fisio Miguel, Silvia, Ochoto, Javier and Toni.  And of course, Vicente del Bosque in the front.  By the way, they always sit in this order.

Fun fact:  Raúl, Fernando and Juan Carlos are all members of Puyol’s Sushi-Team.

Keep reading for mini-profiles of these lucky men!

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