Uncompromising character who has had his ups and downs, both on and off the pitch. Played most of his career at Real Madrid, where he was club captain and a no nonsense defender who was loved by his own fans and hated by the rest. One of the most capped players for Spain with 81 appearances for his country.
As a manager he was successful at Rayo Vallecano, who he took up to the first division, and at Espanyol, where he got them back into Europe. The Barcelona based club wanted him to stay on, but his ambitions were beyond that and he finally accepted an offer from Sevilla. However he joined the club when they were on the slide, and he left after a few weeks with the club en route to relegation. Real Madrid made no secret of the fact that they wanted him back at the club as manager, and he was offered and accepted the job for the 1998/9 season. However he fell out with the club president before the season began, and walked out in a blaze of publicity arguing that he could not have his hands tied.
When Javier Clemente was fired after Spain lost the first Euro 2000 qualifier in September 1998 to Cyprus he took over as national team manager, producing the best string of results the team had had in recent years to cruise through to the European finals. Although Spain were subsequently knocked out by France at the quarter final stage, nobody questioned his charge and he stayed on to guide his country on to these World Cup finals. Whether he carries on afterwards depends on results and alternative offers from big clubs, but his four year reign has established Spain as one of the most respected sides in World football.