In depth

Unzué, the champion in the shade

The current assistant coach has won 22 titles as Barça staff member

Unzué, the champion in the shade
Unzué, the champion in the shade

The current assistant coach has won 22 titles as Barça staff member

Juan Carlos Unzue i Luis Enrique

Juan Carlos Unzue is always in the shade but he has an incomparable track record. Far from the media focus, the former goalkeeper has been one of the pieces of Barça's last successful decade. He has worked with three different coaches (Rijkaard, Guardiola and Luis Enrique) and has won a total of 22 titles working in a professional and discreet way.

He has never generated any problem and has always been praised by his superiors with whom he has won six Liga titles (2 Rijkaard, 2 Guardiola, 2 Luis Enrique); 3 Copas del Rey (2 Guardiola, 1 Luis Enrique, which can be 2 next Sunday); 4 Spanish Super Cups (2 Rijkaard, 2 Guardiola); 3 Champions Leagues (1 Rijkaard, 1 Gardiola, 1 Luis Enrique); 3 European Super Cups (2 Guardiola, 1 Luis Enrique) and 3 Club World Cups (2 Guardiola, 1 Luis Enrique).

First period with Rijkaard

In June 2003, Unzue announced his retirement from football after 18 seasons as a professional, two of which lived at FC Barcelona as a substitute of Andoni Zubizarreta. In summer 2003 and with the recommendation of Txiki Begiristain, the former goalkeeper came back to the club as goalkeeping coach in the new staff team led by coach Frank Rijkaard.

Unzué's work with Valdés was providential to help the best goalkeeper in the history of the club grow. With his arrival, Valdés progressed a lot and doubts around him disappeared. Unzué incorporated new methods to work better with videos, and analyzing every game helped Valdés, who was vital in the Champions League achieved 10 years ago in Paris.

"Master's degree" with Guardiola

With the arrival of Guardiola, Unzue continued as goalkeeping coach in the first 2 seasons of Guardiola. He explained in an interview that the stage of Guardiola was like doing "a Master's degree" to meet the goal of becoming first coach. Unzué remembers "Guardiola's ability of analysis, not only in the defensive aspect, but especially in the offensive tasks. He is different from the rest."

In the summer of 2010, Unzué accepted an offer to lead Numancia in the second division and began his career as a coach. The team finished in 10th place and the coach decided to return to Barcelona in the last season of Guardiola. As goalkeeping coach, he ended his career with a great balance of titles and a continued progress in the work of tactical analysis.

Step forward with Luis Enrique

In 2012, he left the club and signed for Racing Santander but he never managed to lead the team due to contractual problems. After a sabbatical, he joined the coaching staff of Luis Enrique at Celta de Vigo as assistant coach.

The two had become friends in the last stage of Luis Enrique as a player, when Unzue was already working as goalkeeping coach at the club. The passion for cycling helped them connect. Two coaches who had a very similar way of understanding soccer, both looking for the most professional and perfectionist work.

In Celta, they did a great season and FC Barcelona called Luis Enrique to offer him the position of head coach. The Spaniard accepted the proposal and took his staff members with him, with Unzué as assistant coach again. In Barça he has been a mainstay on the bench and has been responsible for the good performance of Barça in set-pieces actions.

The 'laboratory' of Unzué worked fantastically. Noiselessly, with direct conversation with the stars of the team and working tirelessly, Unzué continues to demonstrate his capabilities. Who knows if he will do another step forward in the future to become a possible first-team coach for FC Barcelona...