Athletic Club Legend Julen Guerrero Named Coach Of Spain’s U16 Team
Athletic Club legend Julem Guerrero has always had a passion for youth football. Since retiring in 2006 he has gone on to coach in Lezama and has also spent time as the Technical Director of Malaga’s academy. Most recently the 44-year-old has worked in the media but will now be returning to the field after being announced as the new coach of Spain’s U16 team on Tuesday.
Speaking about his new role Guerrero highlighted the fact that he’s played at every youth level for Spain and is passionate about helping developing footballers reach their potential. He knows that the trend in Spain has been for youth coaches to ascend to higher positions and would love to follow that path, but for now he is only focused on his job with the U16s.
“I entered the Selection at 14 years old, as a U15 international, so I imagine I’ve through through everything. I’ve lived it all and I’m passionate about formative football. I really want to do well and contribute as much as I can. I recognize that historically youth coaches for Spain have ascended to higher levels and, if everything goes well, I could follow. I wouldn’t say no, but it’s not something that I can think of right now. The main thing now is to arrive and do the best you can, then everything else will evolve from there. The dream is to come up from the lower levels.”
Guerrero says that training 16 year olds presents a special challenge because it is the age that begins the biggest jump in youth players. When he played at this level there wasn’t a lot of travel involved, but today even younger teams are competing on an international level. No matter what the age group is, Guerrero is happy to coach young footballers.
“At 16 years old there are still many things being developed. It is a period until about 19 which produces the biggest jump you see in players and shows whether or not you will go up. If you aren’t hanging around the first team at those ages the train is already halfway gone. Fortunately, football has evolved a lot and you now see kids as 8 years old traveling and competing, even in international tournaments. When I came to the U15 team it was the first time I had left my little house and now they are traveling the world. They have been able to learn a lot quicker. I’ve already said that I love formative football and I enjoy it very much at any level. From Juveniles to Benjamines, I have a lot of fun.”
Spain’s youth coaching technical body is now made up of two former Athletic players with Julen Guerrero’s appointment. Luis de la Fuente, who currently manages the U21 team, also played for the Lions and is still a card-carrying Socio.