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A capitalized leader in love with the ball

Whatever happens in a month and a half, and whether or not the team has moved up to Primera, the reality is that Míchel Sánchez will have left his mark on Girona. “I want to stay here for many years,” says the coach of Girona FC, a coach who learns Catalan “for culture, education” and “because I want to” and whose eyes light up when he talks about Vallecas and his Lightning. The Madrilenian, thanks to the results and his temperament, has earned the esteem of the whole white-and-red environment. More than 500 professional matches as a player with Rayo Vallecano, Almeria, Murcia and Málaga guarantee the trajectory of a coach who, from the bench, has managed to move up to Primera with Rayo (2017-18) and Huesca ( 2019-20). Two great successes always – and not easy – of praise and good words from most players who have been under his command. Son, brother, husband and father of two boys who play for Real Madrid, the family has always played a very important role in their lives.

Raised behind a ball through the streets of Vallecas, Michel is the best ambassador of neighborhood culture in Vallecas. Open, receptive, empathetic and penchant, the technician remembers that in his house “the door was never locked”. Hence surely the closeness and trust it constantly conveys. In the mid-eighties, the current scouts or viewers did not exist as they are understood now. Michel played futsal and, above all, on the street with – things that were normal before – some players from the first team of Rayo. One, Fanti Callejo, fixed his left leg and offered to do a test. He had a hard time saying yes, because he had a better time playing with friends, but he agreed.

Míchel was burning stages and growing to the point of becoming the pearl of the Rayo plant and reaching the Spanish under-19 and under-20 team. At the age of 18 he had already made his debut in the Primera Division and a year later he was world runner-up with Spain U20 in Qatar in 1995. All this focused a lot of media attention on Michel who, however, has not just taken off. “You are the highest quality player but the one who will play the least,” said Paquito García, one of his first coaches, at the age of 20. That phrase and seeing that he had no continuity with any coach made him rethink many things. He saw that something was wrong and could not explode until Juande Ramos, aware of his football potential, advised him to visit a psychologist. He was 23 years old and from there changed the chip to become the most important player in the history of Rayo.

Probably due to his experience, the coach Míchel has more at hand now dealing with players who are barely over 18 years old such as Arnau, Baena, Terrats, Ureña, Artero or Gabri. “They’re my eldest son’s age,” often recalls a coach who has already shown that he doesn’t shake his pulse if he has to change a veteran like Samu Saiz before half-time or impose punishments on any of the youngsters. And for Michel, everything is for the good of the team and the common goal that, in the end, must be of great benefit to all. “Let’s travel together” is written at the entrance to the Montilivi dressing room. A very clear message, both in terms of the playing field when it comes to attacking and defending, as well as outside, when it comes to knowing how to guide a group of young athletes who are struggling to advance to the Primera Division.


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