So, Quique Setién has landed the gig of a lifetime after Barcelona decided to offer him a two and a half year contract following the dismissal of erstwhile manager Ernesto Valverde.
From being a relatively unknown football manager with more experience of Spain’s lower leagues than the topflight, the 61-year-old has now being thrust into the world’s headlights, so, who exactly is the new man in charge of the Blaugrana.
Ten Things About Barcelona New Coach Quique Setién
1. Setién was born on 27 September 1958 in the Santander region of Spain and becomes the third Cantabrian coach in Barça’s history, after Enrique Orizaola (1961) and Laureano Ruiz (1976).
2. Unlike nearly every other footballer, Setién took an unusual route to a professional football career initially starting out in Beach Soccer. He even played for the Spanish national team.
3. The 61-year-old goes by the nickname “El Maestro” a moniker that stems from his time as a player with hometown club Racing Santander where he played for a total of 12 years in two different spells and with whom he won promotion to the topflight as a coach in 2002.
4. As a player, Setién scored twice in 22 appearances against Barcelona. Once for Logroñés in a 2-1 defeat at the Nou Camp in the 1990/91 league season and again for Racing Santander in a 5-0 annihilation of his present employers in the 1994/95 league season.
5. As a manager, Setién has faced Barca seven times, recording six defeats and a solitary win. The victory, however, was a tactical masterclass that saw his Real Betis side triumph 4-3 at the Camp Nou, against the now departed Valverde in the league during the 2018/19 season. That performance saw him earmarked as a potential occupier of the Barca dugout.
6. Setién’s coaching pedigree covers stints with Equatorial Guinea, Racing Santander, Poli Ejido, Logroñés, Lugo, Las Palmas and Real Betis.
7. Quique Setién is an avid chess player and his passion for the sport has seen play against former World Champions Anatoli Karpov and Gary Kasparov.
8. Setién’s Real Betis side boasts the record of the highest ball possession percentage ever recorded in La Liga with 82.51 per cent possession in a 1-0 victory over Leganes at the Estadio Benito Villamarin last season. That mark bettered Pep Guardiola’s possession record of 82.22 per cent during Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Levante in the 2010/11 season.
9. Setién’s football philosophy is closely welded to legendary former Barca manager Johan Cruyff of whom Setién once said: “I felt it was possible to play better football, but I didn’t see it until Johan taught us how”.
10. While Setién has previously proclaimed Lionel Messi as the greatest ever footballer, it is perhaps another player at the Nou Camp who holds a special place in his heart with midfielder Sergio Busquets once gifting him a shirt with the inscription: “For Quique with love and admiration for your way of looking at football. All the best.”
Not many get to live their dream at 61 years of age but for Setién, a circuitous route to the top via Equatorial Guinea and the lower rungs of Spanish football has indeed shown that it is better late than never.
His quote at his unveiling on Tuesday perfectly captured the surreal nature of his good fortune: “Yesterday, I was walking around my home town with cows around me and now I’m here at Barcelona managing the best players in the world.”