Juan Carlos Unzué Labiano was born on 22nd April 1967 in the Navarre capital of Pamplona. He joined the CA Osasuna academy, but couldn’t break into the first team. That’s when he moved to FC Barcelona in 1988 to play under Johan Cruyff (who also incidentally joined in the same year),which came to be known as the dream team.This team boasted of superstars like Koeman, Stoichov, Laudrup, Romário, Pep and Andoni Zubizarreta. Zubizarreta being one of the best goalkeepers at the time, kept Unzué on the bench for extended periods,which led him to move to Sevilla.
Presentation at Barcelona in 1988
Though he does talk very fondly of the time he spent under Cruyff,where he won the Copa del Rey and UEFA Cup Winners Cup.
Here he talks about his evolution under Johan Cruyff and his managerial stints.
Despite Sevilla being a mid-table club, he moved there to play more minutes,accumulating more than 200 matches in his 5 years there and rarely missing a match.
He enjoyed 100 clean sheets and conceded about 350 goals in a total of about 300 games in his career.
He took up coaching immediately after retiring as a football player, under Frank Rijkaard as a goalkeeping coach,which he retained even after Pep Guardiola took over.
His big break came when he took over as Luis Enrique’s assistant at Celta Vigo and even followed him to FC Barcelona. Here he enjoyed much success,winning a treble in his first year and winning 9 trophies in 3 years.
He was expected to take over from Luis Enrique after the later affirmed his idea to resign, and had the players backing. But the job went to the president’s favorite Valverde instead. This resulted in Unzue having not so successful managerial stints elsewhere.
But the most shocking news occurred on 18th June where he held a public press conference, announcing that he was suffering from ALS, and that it was badly affecting his limbs.This had forced him to retire from his coaching job and move on to bigger things in life. His sole motive now being the to improve awareness about the disease and try to help find a treatment and cure for it. He will forever remain in our prayers and we wish him all the strength in the world.