Fernando Ruiz Hierro is a former Spanish footballer who played as centre back and midfielder. The veteran footballer was among the world’s most sought after player during his days. He was a prominent member of Spanish U21 and then the core national team of Spain.
He also played for some popular clubs like Valladolid, Al Rayyan, Bolton Wanderers and Real Madrid.
Hierro was born on 23 March 1968 in Velez-Malaga, Province of Malaga. He began youth career in 1980 while playing for a local club Velez-Malaga. After having a spell of 4 years, he switched to CD Malanga. His performance at CD was not impressive and he had to again return to his home team, Velez.
His senior career began in 1987 with a Spain based club, Real Valladolid, under a 2 year contract. He made 58 appearances with the team at center back position and managed to score 3 times.
Major turning point of his career was his inclusion in the Real Madrid. He is regarded as one of the best defenders in the history of the club. His importance in the club can be easily estimated by the duration of his tenure - 14 glorious years. He played 439 games with the club and scored 102 goals. He was instrumental in the conquest of five La-Liga and three UEFA Champions League trophies.
In 2003, he switched to Qatar based club, Al Rayyan, where he spent 1 season and played 19 games and scored at 3 times.
In 2004, Hierro returned to Europe to sign with Premier League side Bolton Wanderers. In the only season he played, he scored once, in a 2-3 loss against Norwich City.
Rise to glory
Hierro broke the headlines even in his first spell with Madrid. He scored 7 times in his 37 appearances. He kept on improving and escalating throughout his career. In 2002, Hierro scored a surprise hat-trick in a 3-1 win home win against Real Zaragoza.
One of his most unforgettable goals was the one he scored against Denmark in 1993, a goal that qualified the national team for the 1994 World Cup in the USA.
After 13 years of playing for Spain, Hierro retired from international football in the 2002 World Cup and from professional football in 2005, playing in the Premier League for Bolton Wanderers.
In 2007, Hierro earned a number 43 spot in the list of the 50 hardest footballers in history by ‘The Times’. Hierro was also officially presented as sporting director of the Royal Spanish Football Federation in September 2007.
In July 2011, He was appointed as Malanga CF’s director of football. However, he left his position on 28 May 2012, even though the club finished fourth in the League and qualified for the Champions League for the first time ever.
On 10 July 2014, Hierro was named assistant coach of Real Madrid, replacing Zinedine Zidane, for a 3 year tenure. He left the position after missing out on the promotion playoffs on the final matchday in June 2017,