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Fernando Ruiz Hierro ( ; born March 23, 1968 in Vélez-Málagamarker, Málagamarker), is a former Spanishmarker footballer. He is mostly known for his spells with Real Madrid and Spain.

Equally at ease as a central defender or defensive midfielder, he had the ability, at his peak, to combine solid defensive play with a near-unlimited passing range and surprising goalscoring talent, which made him one of the world's most sought-after players.

Club career

After beginning for local club Vélez-Málaga, Hierro had a very brief youth spell with Málaga CF, where he was told he was not good enough for the sport, which prompted a return back home. He eventually made his first division debuts with Real Valladolid, being bought by Real Madrid after two solid seasons.

At Real, Hierro scored seven goals in 37 contests in his first season, and eventually had his position on the field advanced, by then coach Radomir Antić, continuing his good performances with the addition of goals - in three seasons combined, he scored an astonishing 44 league goals, 21 alone in 1991–92, a career-best. During years, he often partnered club great Manuel Sanchís in the centre of the defense, being instrumental in the conquest of five leagues and three UEFA Champions League, and being named captain after the latter's retirement.

On March 24, 2002, Hierro scored a hat-trick in a 3–1 home win against Real Zaragoza, although the ultimate leader would be Valencia CF.He was released at the end of the 2002–03 season, alongside club manager Vicente del Bosque, under rather unceremonious circumstances and without the fanfare normally accorded to a player of his stature. Hierro then chose a lucrative move to the wealthy but developing middle east football industry, joining Qatarmarker's Al Rayyan.

After just one year, Hierro returned to Europe, signing with English Premiership side Bolton Wanderers on the advice of his English team-mate at Real Madrid, Steve McManaman, and teaming up with another former club employee, Iván Campo. He scored one league goal for Bolton, which came in a 3-2 loss at Norwich City in December 2004. Even though he was hard-pressed by fans and manager Sam Allardyce to stay for a further campaign, he announced his retirement from professional football on May 10, 2005. He remained a fan favorite long after his departure, with the fans still singing a song created for him, and was widely regarded as one of the club's greatest ever players.

International career

Hierro was capped 89 times for Spain, second only to Raúl González as a Spanish outfield player, and scored 29 goals, being only surpassed by Raúl (who also took over his captain armband in June 2002, when he retired) and David Villa. He made his debut on September 20, 1989, freshly signed by Madrid, in a 1–0 friendly win with Poland, in A Coruñamarker, and appeared for the nation in the 1990 (although only as a squad member), 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups, as well as UEFA Euro 1996 and 2000.

One of his most important goals came during the 1994 World Cup qualification, as he headed the winning goal against Denmark that allowed ten-men Spain to qualify for the final tournament in the USA. In the finals, he scored on an individual play against Switzerland in the second round, before his team was eliminated by Italy in quarterfinals.

Although he had already been in charge for a few weeks, Hierro was officially presented as sporting director of the Royal Spanish Football Federation in late September 2007.




Club statistics


Hierro's older brother Manuel, also a footballer and a centre back, amassed 174 first division matches (17 goals), with Málaga, Valladolid (pairing up with Fernando as the side finished eighth in 1987–88), Real Betisand CD Tenerife.

As Málaga dropped down a level after 2005–06, he briefly coached the Andalusiansmarker.


  1. Real Madrid biography
  2. Spain round-up: Hierro hits hat-trick in Madrid victory;, 24 March 2002
  3. Axe falls on Del Bosque and Hierro;, 24 June 2003
  4. Bolton ready for Hierro worship;, 12 August 2004
  5. Hierro wise to the benefits of English approach;, 18 November 2008
  6. Hero Hierro calls it a day;, 10 May 2005
  7. Hierro será presentado el jueves como director deportivo de la Federación (Hierro to be presented Thursday as sporting director of the Federation); El Mundo, 24 September 2007
  8. Manolo Hierro at BDFutbol

External links

1987–88 Real Valladolid Spanish League 29 1
1988–89 29 2
1989–90 Real Madrid Spanish League 37 7
1990–91 35 6
1991–92 37 21
1992–93 33 13
1993–94 34 10
1994–95 33 7
1995–96 31 7
1996–97 39 6
1997–98 28 3
1998–99 28 6
1999–00 20 5
2000–01 29 5
2001–02 30 5
2002–03 25 0

2003–04 Al-Rayyan Qatari League 19 3

2004–05 Bolton Wanderers Premier League 29 1

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