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La Liga Legends: Fernando Hierro

Real Madrid v Barcelona Fernando Hierro of Real Madrid
19 Sep 1998: Fernando Hierro of Real Madrid in action during a match against Barcelona in Madrid, Spain. The game ended in a draw 2-2. Mandatory Credit: Clive Mason /Allsport

Let’s go down memory lane and remember Real Madrid’s captain fantastic from the 1990s and the early 2000s – Fernando Hierro.

Fernando Hierro was born on 23 March 1968 in a small town in the south of Spain, Velez-Malaga. He started his youth career in his hometown club at the age of 12 and had a short spell at CD Malaga’s youth academy in 1984 – in the period when his both brothers Manuel and Antonio played for the club.

However, Fernando was told he was not good enough and returned to Velez-Malaga where he continued to develop as a footballer.

His older brother, Manuel Hierro moved to Valladolid in 1986 and arranged a new trial for him. It turned out to be a success this time and the youngster signed his first professional contract with the Whites and Violets.

After two impressive seasons at Estadio Jose Zorrilla, Hierro was purchased by Real Madrid in the summer of 1989 and went on to become one of the greatest players in the history of the club.

Fernando was a physically strong player, who could easily win any aerial duel thanks to his intimidating presence. He was also a great tackler and had an excellent technique and passing ability, which helped him to start dangerous counter attacks for his team once he wins possession in the middle of the pitch.

Hierro was a versatile footballer who played as a central defender, sweeper or defensive midfielder, but he was also dangerous in front of the goal and scored 102 La Liga goals for Real Madrid – an unreal number for a player with a defensive role on the ground.

He won his first La Liga title in his first season at the Bernabeu and formed a partnership with the great Manolo Sanchis which helped Madrid dominate Spanish and European football in the late 90s.

At the international level, Hierro made his debut for the Spanish national team in 1989. He guided his country to the quarter-finals of three major international tournaments, scoring 29 goals in his 89 appearances for The Red Fury.


The defender was named Real Madrid’s captain in 2001 following Sanchis’ retirement. He captained the club in the 2002 Champions League Final victory over Bayer Leverkusen, a game which saw Zinedine Zidane score that volley to secure the ninth European crown for Los Blancos.

Hierro left Madrid in 2003 when he joined Al Rayyan in Qatar Stars League. He spent the 2004-05 season at Bolton Wanderers and announced his retirement from professional football on 10 May 2005.

Fernando Hierro will always be remembered as one of Real Madrid’s greatest leaders. He won a total of 17 trophies in his time at Santiago Bernabeu, including five Spanish championships, three Champions League titles and the 1993 Copa del Rey.