I will never know what would have happened if Pedro Matas, one of my teachers at the El Redin school, wouldn't have taken me out of literature class on that autumn morning, telling me he's going to trust me to train one of the school teams... I was 16 years old and it took me completely by surprise. I, like so many other kids, had dreamed of becoming a football player, but it was during this first experience when I started discovering more and more that I was even more passionate about being a coach than I was about playing football.
Those first steps which were self-taught... I went to every conference, I read all the books and technical magazines I could find. Then, I started my journalism career, which I went on combining with the coach courses. At the same time, I used to play for the University of Navarra and coach teams from practically all categories.
One winter evening I played my last match with the team from the University. Our coach, Goyo Mañeru, who we had some unforgettable moments with, had to leave the team for personal reasons and he asked me to change my role and start leading my teammates. Half serious, half in jest, I tend to comment that the team started improving not because I was such a good coach, but because I stopped playing :) I combined my last season in the Unav with coaching the Navarra Cadete team, with Raúl García, Nacho Monreal, Jon Erice and Oier Sanjurjo, among others.
It was then, that Jesús Corera and Manolo Los Arcos called me to lead the Osasuna team playing in the Junior National League. Three years of constant learning and complete enjoyment. Osasuna was an example of good organisation and application of a methodology that was adequate to the values of osasunismo. I was lucky enough to be part of a generation of coaches that got along really well and where we worked in a very family-like atmosphere: Jan Urban, Cuco Ziganda, Andoni Goikoetxea, Óscar Lasaosa, Juan Iribarren, Joshé Viela, and my inseparable ones: Mikel Ozcoidi and Josu Sesma.
From there I made my step to the Third League, leading the El River Ega for two seasons. This was trully incredible for me, an overdose of real football, surrounded with great people. Thanks to Mariano Azcona (the Sheriff of Andosilla), I discovered the rollercoaster of football with all its ups and downs. I had the opportunity to appreciate that in the country, the spirit of street football, which has been vanishing in the cities, is still alive (thanks Cristian, our top scorer) and I was very lucky to share a team with Xabi Gamboa, a great friend and the best trainer, innovator and inconformist from all the Navarrese coaches. With that Mafalda spirit of asking the "why" of everything, we gave each other feedback and enjoyed that asymmetric 1-4-4-2.
In June of 2007 When together with Xabi was preparing the pre-season of River I called to Jan Urban, I wanted to congratulate him for been signed as a first coach in Legia Warsaw. After a few minutes of conversation he asked me:
-Don’t you want to come as my asssintant?
At first momenti thought he was joking, but at the end of the conversation he told me:
-Well, think about and we come back to this in some days.
The chance to join the professional football world came to me, I was preparing myself for it and I could not let this opportunity scape. I didn’t think too much, I just arranged with my father and my brother Marce my cooperation with the family business in Zizurkil and some other personal stuff of my life. I am very lucky to have such a family. They know that professional football is the passion of my life and they always support me in order to adjust my work and my passion for football.
In professional football, the coaches that have been professional footballers we could say that they have pedigree, while those that we have not been, we are more "mixed" or "thousand races". A "mixed dog" like I needed someone to give him the opportunity. In these 10 seasons together in the professional football world, Jan Urban has not only opened the doors of top level football to me, but we have experienced successes and difficult moments, and I have grown thanks to him as a coach and as a person.
In our first official game with Legia we played in Lithuania against VetraVilno in the first match away of the Intertoto. Before the game, we analyzed all possible scenarios and possible solutions. What we did not take into account is that the game was suspended at the break due to incidents from fans and that we were disqualified from the competition. After that first disappointment later came the Polish Cup title against Wisła Krakow in penalties, the Supercopa also against Wisła, two league sub-championships and the first dismissal after almost three seasons (almost a record in Poland) returning in bus after losing with the Bytom Poland.
From the ZagłębieLubin, a perfectly organized club, I remember our visit to the mines, and the trips on Mondays to Bilbao to attend the Master of Sports Coaching conducted by Imanol Ibarrondo. Grateful to Imanol, for me there has been a before and after the course.
Back to the Legia I keep for me the historic double (18 years later), with the record of Jan who is still the coach with more official games in the history of the club, with listening to the anthem of the Champions from the bench, of the little that we missed to enter the group stage (two draws against Steaua Bucharest) and that we were thrown first after 21 days having 5 points ahead of the second (GórnikZabrze) and 9 over our main competitor, Lech Poznań. caprice of football that never stops surprising you.
We returned to Osasuna with great enthusiasm as we met again with many people with whom we had met in inferior categories. Flaño, Roberto Santamaría, Oier, Jon Echaide, Josu Sesma ... It was a kind of closing the circle and we did not mind meeting a club in a tremendous economic, sports and social crisis. It was a very hard year, Osasuna was not the club I remembered, and although I would have liked to have the feeling of returning home, the reality is that I felt treated like a stranger. I am happy to have worked with great people such as RicharSanzol and Iñaki Ibáñez, and to have seen Mikel Merino, KenanKodro, Álex Berenguer, David García and Miguel Olavide in professional football. I will always be “Rojillo”.
We went back to Poland to another big club, the Lech Poznań who after being champion the previous season was last in the table with only 5 points in 11 matches. We changed the situation in the league, we got into the top 8 and we enjoyed a lot in the European League. To remember the match between the leader of Calcio (Fiorentina) and the bottom of the Ekstraklasa (Lech). Soccer is very big. We changed almost all the team respect to the previous match and won 1-2 in Florence with goals from Kownacki and Gajos. The first time a Polish team won in Italy in European competition. As a most painful moment the defeat in the final of the Polish Cup (1-0) against Legia in the national stadium of Warsaw, in an ugly and even match. Shortly after we took revenge by winning at the start of the 16/17 Super Cup at the Legia stadium (1-4).
After more than a decade from since I came to Poland, after more than a season in Slask Wroclaw, still my life is my passion for football, but now with a lot of experience and knowledge, but still with the same enthusiasm, a desire to improve and zeal as always!