Luis Enrique – Mr. Versatile

Luis Enrique – Mr. Versatile

Let’s take a moment to go back in time and re-live Championship Manager 1997/98. What a game. I lost hours of my life to that game and regret not one bit! Take me back!

The first thing I’d do is try to buy Luis Enrique! Talk about versatility - he could literally play anywhere. Left, right, centre and defence, midfield or forward. What a player to be able to call upon. 

Now, what I also love about Luis Enrique is he is not some computer game glitch (sorry Ibrahim Bakayoko, Cherno Samba, and Tonton Zola Moukoko) he was actually, in real life, a superb footballer.

Born in Gijon, Spain, Luis Enrique played for his local team, Sporting Gijon having signed as a youngster but it was at Real Madrid where he made his name. He won a league title and a domestic cup as well as becoming a fixture in the national team. This included representing Spain at the 1994 World Cup in the USA putting his neck (and nose) on the line for his country.

Luis Enrique’s next career move, in 1996, puts him on a somewhat exclusive and somewhat controversial list.

The non-exhaustive list includes Michael Laudrup, Samuel Eto’o, Ronaldo (Brazilian), Robert Prosinecki, Gheorghe Hagi, Javier Saviola, Luis Figo, Albert Celades, Julen Lopetegui, Nando, and Bernd Schuster. 

Not the worst list of players I’m sure you’d agree and I’ll assume you’ve worked out the link. All the players have played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, the Spanish league’s greatest rivalry.

Of the above players, it is only Saviola, Laudrup, Figo and Luis Enrique who moved directly to their rivals and Luis Enrique stands out as the only one that went from Real to Barca. The other 3 took the reverse route.

What also separates Luis Enrique, alongside Figo, is the longevity of each spell with both clubs. Perhaps linked to the tense rivalry these transfers seldom work out but for Luis Enrique (& Figo), they did.

Luis Enrique left Real having played 213 times over 5 seasons. He bettered that at the Catalan club, staying for 8 years, appearing no less than 300 times. In his second season at the Nou Camp, he scored a career-best 25 goals in all competitions, bettering the previous best, in his debut season at the club of 18. In that first season, under Sir Bobby Robson he was able to win the Copa Del Rey and the Cup Winners Cup, ironically with teammates that season such as Figo, Ronaldo, Celades, Prosinecki, and Lopetegui.

The introduction of teammates such as Rivaldo and Patrick Kluivert and the management of Louis Van Gaal, helped Luis Enrique win league titles with Barcelona.

In the 1999-00 season, with Luis Enrique & Rivaldo et al charged with winning the Champions League, Barcelona celebrated their 100-year anniversary. To commemorate this kit manufacturer Nike produced a special centenary kit. A half-and-half offering with the centralised date, badge, and Nike logo.

RFS has this beautiful shirt available and with it’s arm patches (Champions League and 100 years) and the golden font used for the Luis Enrique name set, these wonderful accessories compliment the shirt incredibly well.

https://www.retrofootballshirts.com/1999-00-barcelona-centenary-home-shirt-luis-enrique-21-very-good-xl-16027-p.asp

The name and number weren’t to be the last association with Luis Enrique and Gold at Barcelona. He retired from playing in 2004 but returned as first-team manager 10 years later, promptly winning the treble (La Liga, Copa Del Rey, and Champions League) in his first campaign in charge! He clearly had the golden touch. He followed up the treble with a domestic double the next season.

Defender, midfielder, attacker, AND manager! Was there nothing Luis Enrique couldn’t do?

Blog by Stan Stanger, avid football fan and football shirt collector.  Follow me on Twitter @10Stan1981 and visit my website at

https://thehalfwayline.org

 

Share this article
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
TikTok
Authors
Archive
Leave a comment
Your email address will not be visible