Nearly seven years have passed since Raul played his final game of professional football, but the Real Madrid legend has been hard at work in the time since as he works his way up the coaching ladder.
After scoring more than 300 times for Los Blancos, and a handful more in Germany, Qatar and the United States, Raul hung up his boots after ending his stint with the New York Cosmos in 2015. Since then, though, he has been welcomed back into the fold in Madrid with a managerial role in charge of the ‘Castilla’ team – the second-string side which has prepared the likes of current first-teamers Lucas Vazquez and Nacho for first-team football.
Raul’s development has seen him linked with jobs in top European leagues, with Eintracht Frankfurt reportedly considering a move before settling on eventual Europa League winner Oliver Glasner. Madrid themselves were said to be open to promoting the Spaniard to first-team duties as well, eventually opting for Carlo Ancelotti, but there are many who see Raul as a future manager of the European champions.
“We needed more experience and Raul is taking it year to year,” club president Florentino Perez told Onda Cero (via Managing Madrid ) after Ancelotti’s appointment. “One day it will happen — he has all the qualities you need to have to coach Real Madrid.”
Former manager Jorge Valdano, who was in the dugout when Raul broke through as a player, has also spoken highly of the former Spain international. Raul himself has insisted he lives “in the present,” but that has not stopped outsiders and insiders alike seeing him as a future boss at the Bernabeu.
“Raúl is managing Castilla’s youngest squad,” Valdano told La Galerna (via FanSided ) in 2021. “He grabs seventeen-year-olds and returns them to you as men six months later. He grabs Miguel Gutiérrez and makes him a man. With Antonio? The same. Marvin? A man.
“Men have been made through an incredible level of demand. Transmitting those values to the boys of today is increasingly difficult, and Raúl does it.”
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At 45 years of age, Raul has time on his side as he looks to establish himself as a manager. And he is just one of the next wave of former players looking to establish themselves in management. Here, Mirror Football looks at those starting to make an impact.
Former Manchester United and Manchester City star Tevez only confirmed his retirement this year, but has already taken his first steps into management. The Argentina international has taken over at Rosario Central, signing an initial 12-month deal with the team from Lionel Messi’s home town.
“I have the same butterflies in my stomach as I had when I played,” Tevez told Ole before being confirmed in the role. “My teams are going to play the way I feel football.
“I think I can help many of the boys to integrate them into football They ‘re going to listen to me because I have a way of seeing life, that’s the most important thing, I can give them tools on and off the pitch, it has to be something comprehensive.”
Tevez isn’t the only former Argentina international managing in the country’s top division, with Sebastian Battaglia and Fernando Gago among the others. If he can make an instant impact in Rosario, where the team finished last season down in 16th, more opportunities could arise.
Alonso, who turned 40 late last year, is a few years behind Raul in his managerial development. However, like his compatriot, the former Liverpool midfielder has started out coaching youth and reserve sides at another of his former clubs.
Born in the Basque Country, Alonso came through the ranks at Real Sociedad before moving to England in his early twenties. After ending his playing career with Bayern Munich in 2017, he returned to La Real to take charge of the youth side before moving onto the ‘B’ team and stepping away this summer.
“It has been an amazing three years back home at Real Sociedad,” Alonso wrote on Instagram (as translated by Football Espana ) after announcing his plans to leave his role. “Thanks to Jokin, Roberto, the staff and all the players who have helped us to improve and enjoy this intense adventure so much. Aupa Sanse and Aupa Real!”
Alonso was heavily linked with Borussia Monchengladbach when Marco Rose left the club, opting instead to extend his stint in charge of Real Sociedad B. More recently, he has been mentioned in connection with the top job at Club Brugge, and his first top-level opportunity surely isn’t too far away.
Ruud van Nistelrooy
Another player with Real Madrid on his CV, Van Nistelrooy partnered Raul up front for Los Blancos and briefly spent time in the same squad as Alonso. Now 45, the Dutchman has taken his first senior managerial role after years spent in assistant and youth or reserve team roles.
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The former Manchester United man spent time on PSV Eindhoven’s books before moving to Old Trafford, and took charge of the ‘Jong PSV’ side last season. Now, after the departure of Roger Schmidt, the ex-striker has been promoted to head coach of the first team.
“It has always been my dream to be head coach at PSV,” he told the Eredivisie club’s website. “I’ve worked intensively with Toon Gerbrands, PSV’s current General Manager, the past few seasons.
“I was convinced I could pursue a professional coaching career and originally thought I needed one more year to gain experience. But sometimes things do go their way and you find out that life is not completely manageable. This is the right moment to take the next step.”
Van Nistelrooy isn’t the only former Manchester United and Netherlands striker who could have a long career in management. Robin van Persie, who retired from playing in 2019, has been working his way through the ranks at former club Feyenoord and turned down the chance to join Erik ten Hag’s coaching team at Old Trafford.
A former teammate of Van Nistelrooy and Van Persie in Manchester, former England striker Rooney has made an impressive start to managerial life. The 36-year-old was thrown in at the deep end with Derby County, beginning in a player-manager role before removing himself from playing duties to focus full time on his work in the dugout.
Rooney kept Derby in the Championship in his first season, overcoming off-field distractions to survive by a single point. However, after a hefty points deduction last term, he was unable to repeat the trick in 2021-22.
The former Everton and DC United player announced his departure from Pride Park this summer, and has been linked with a Premier League job sooner rather than later. He has previously spoken about a desire to manage one of his former top-flight clubs, though that might need to wait.
“The joint administrators are very disappointed that Wayne has taken the difficult decision to leave the club and we have spent some time today trying to persuade him to stay but understand his reasons for wanting to go,” a spokesperson on behalf of Derby’s joint administrators said. “We are extremely grateful to him for his excellent work in the face of challenging on-field circumstances in the 2021/22 season and admire the manner in which he has led the team, the club and the local community through various off-field issues.
Kompany is a few months younger than Rooney, but is already in his second managerial job since retiring from playing in 2020. He started and ended his career with Anderlecht in his native Belgium, and was handed the managerial reins after ending his playing career with the club.
In two seasons under the management of the former defender, Anderlecht finished fourth and third, and will have a chance to reach the Europa Conference League group stages next term. That won’t happen under Kompany, though, with the former Manchester City captain opting to take the vacant manager’s job at Burnley.
Upon taking the job, Kompany has pledged to draw emphasis away from City boss Pep Guardiola. “He’s such a fantastic coach – but I am still only 36 and I’ve already got three years of valuable experience as a manager,” he said.
“That is why I am coming into this project at the right time. I am extremely respectful and some things are in your blood and will never go away. But I don’t need anyone to tell me how good I was as a player because I really don’t care.”
Kompany could well be followed into management by other members of Belgium’s so-called ‘Golden Generation’. As reported by Reuters in May, Kevin De Bruyne and Jan Vertonghen are among 18 current and former internationals to receive their coaching badges after two years of training with their country’s FA.