Real Madrid have announced through their website the appointment of former captain and club legend Fernando Hierro as Carlo Ancelotti's assistant coach next season. Hierro will replace his former teammate Zinedine Zidane, who will be taking over as head coach of Real Madrid Castilla, the club's reserve.
Hierro spent 14 seasons at Real Madrid, establishing himself as one of the world's finest defenders. He was also capable of playing in midfield and had an exceptional passing range, as well as an impressive goalscoring record.
He won three Champions League titles at Real Madrid, lifting the trophy as captain in 2002. Hierro also won 89 caps with Spain, and was La Furia Roja's all-time leading goalscorer until his tally was eventually surpassed by Raul Gonzalez.
He was appointed the Sporting Director of the Spanish FA in 2007, and oversaw both Spain's Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup triumphs. He then served in a similar capacity at hometown club Malaga CF for the 2011-12 season, helping oversee the club's qualification for the UEFA Champions League.
His appointment as assistant coach at Real Madrid is somewhat unexpected, as he was not among those linked with the position by the Spanish media. Rather, another legendary defender and former Real Madrid player—Fabio Cannavaro—had been heavily linked with the role.
MARCA had reported that Ancelotti was keen to bring in Cannavaro; the pair worked together at Parma in the late '90s. Hierro looks to be a better fit for the position, however, given his intimate knowledge of Real Madrid's workings and expectations as well as his experience working as a Sporting Director for the Spanish FA and Malaga CF.
His appointment is still surprising, given the ignominious way in which he was pushed out of Real Madrid in 2003 when current club supremo Florentino Perez was serving in his first stint as president.