International Wanderers: Fernando Hierro

I'm ace, me - Clive Mason

He came from Real Madrid, he cost about £20,000 per week

Fernando Ruiz Hierro was born in March 1968 in Vélez-Málaga, Andalusia. He spent the majority of his youth career in the region, playing for the local side Vélez-Málaga between 1980-1984 and following a year at Malaga, again between 1985-87.

Hierro turned professional in 1987 at Valladolid under current Bolivian National Team manager Xabier Azkargorta. He was utilised as a central defender who could also step out with the ball and progress play forward - as such he could do an equally good job in the centre of midfield when required. Kind of like Rio Ferdinand today, but without being such an arrogant dick about it.

After two seasons at Valladolid which yielded 58 appearances and just three goals, he was purchased by La Liga giants Real Madrid, and made the move to the capital. Managed at the time by Welshman John Toshack, Hierro was immediately drafted into the heart of the Real Madrid team, where he remained for the next fourteen years and sixteen managers.

In his first season, he managed an impressive seven goals in 37 appearances. Toshack's mid-season replacement, Radomir Antić, pushed Hierro into midfield and it would be a move that would pay dividends for the player and club. He scored 44 goals in the next three seasons, including a record 21 in the 1991-92 season, though he could not inspire Real Madrid to the title, losing out by a point to a Hristo Stoichkov inspired Barcelona.

He formed a lasting partnership with Madrid icon Manuel Sanchís, who himself made over 500 appearances for the club over 18 seasons.

In their time together, Hierro and Sanchís led Real Madrid to no fewer than five La Liga wins and three Champions League trophies, and being named captain after the latter's retirement in 2001 at the age of 36.

In March 2002, aged 34, Hierro scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 home win against Real Zaragoza, though that season Madrid lost out to eventual champions Valencia, managed by future Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez.

Hierro was controversially released at the end of the 2002-03 season alongside club manager Vicente del Bosque, having appeared in 497 top division matches over the course of 16 seasons, scoring a very respectable 105 goals. He chose to make the lucrative move to the wealthy, joining Qatar's Al Rayyan Sports Club. He only made 19 appearances for Al Rayyan, scoring three goals, before leaving the club, contemplating his retirement.

However, on the advice of former Real Madrid teammate Steve McManaman, Hierro accepted an offer from Bolton Wanderers manager Sam Allardyce, and signed a one year contract with the English side. There he would initially play in the centre of defence behind another ex-teammate in Iván Campo.

He was a success in his year at Bolton, scoring a solitary goal against Norwich in 29 appearances. He found it hard initially to cope with the pace of the English league but following a move into midfield after Christmas his class shone through and he played in the majority of the games as the club proceeded through the league campaign.

His final appearance for the Wanderers was in the final home game of the season against Everton, a 3-2 home win, where he starred before leaving the field to thunderous applause with 30 minutes remaining. It was a fitting end to a glittering career.

Despite this, he chose to leave Bolton Wanderers after his contract had expired, and retired from the game in 2005.

In July 2011 Hierro returned to his homeland, and was appointed Málaga's director of football. Despite the club finishing fourth and qualifying for the Champions League he left his position.

Fernando Hierro was capped 89 times for Spain, scoring a fantastic 29 goals. This record was only beaten by fellow Real Madrid star Raúl (who also took over his captain armband in June 2002, when he retired) and latterly David Villa and Chelsea's Fernando Torres.

He made his debut on 20 September 1989 after his move to Madrid in a 1-0 friendly win against Poland in Coruña, and appeared for the national side in the 1990 (although only as a squad member),1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups, as well as Euro 1996 and 2000.

Club performance

League

Cup

League Cup

Continental

Total

Season

Club

League

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Spain

League

Copa del Rey

Supercopa de España

Europe

Total

1987-88

Valladolid

Spanish League

29

1

0

0

-

-

29

1

1988-89

29

2

0

0

-

-

29

2

1989-90

Real Madrid

Spanish League

37

7

5

0

-

4

0

46

7

1990-91

35

7

3

0

-

5

1

43

8

1991-92

37

21

7

3

-

9

2

53

26

1992-93

33

13

8

0

-

6

5

47

18

1993-94

34

10

3

0

-

4

1

41

11

1994-95

33

7

2

0

-

5

0

40

7

1995-96

31

7

4

0

-

5

1

40

8

1996-97

39

6

6

2

-

-

45

8

1997-98

28

3

2

0

-

10

3

40

6

1998-99

28

6

4

1

-

8

1

40

8

1999-00

20

5

2

0

-

14

2

36

7

2000-01

29

5

1

0

-

13

1

43

6

2001-02

30

5

5

0

-

14

0

49

5

2002-03

25

0

1

1

-

12

0

38

1

Qatar

League

Emir of Qatar Cup

League Cup

Asia

Total

2003-04

Al Rayyan

Qatar Stars League

19

3

-

-

-

19

3

England

League

FA Cup

League Cup

Europe

Total

2004-05

Bolton

Premier League

29

1

0

0

0

0

-

29

1

Total

Spain

497

105

53

7

-

109

17

659

129

Qatar

19

3

-

-

-

19

3

England

29

1

0

0

0

0

-

29

1

Career total

545

109

53

7

0

0

109

17

707

133

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