FC Barcelona played Gijon just few days ago and this gave me a little inspiration to write something about Luis Enrique, Gijon born footballer that became Barca legend.
As already mentioned, Enrique, also known as "Lucho", started his career in Sporting, where he scored 14 goals in 2 seasons before eventually signing for Real Madrid. 5 years in capital were enough for Lucho and once his contract ran out he moved to Blaugrana on a free transfer. Needles to say it was a shocking move and even Cules weren`t happy about it at first.
Barca at that time (1996) was a club made of stellar players. Bobby Robson was their new manager, Stoichkov returned, Brazil new prodigy Ronaldo was signed, youngsters De La Pena and Figo were producing the spark and in that atmosphere Lucho had an easier job to fit in as all the highlights were on "star" players. Pretty soon though, Luis Enrique became one of the most notable players in that group, player that stuck with the team even when all of the mentioned left.
One of his best qualities was probably his versatility. He could play just about anywhere except as central or left back. He had a high stamina, good pace and was a born leader. Those characteristics led him to unthinkable - a former Madrid player became FC Barcelona captain.
I can still remember the jeers and insults that he had to take every time we visited Madrid but that didn`t deter him the slightless. A true fighter that he was, he played even more committed in those derbies.
Lucho stayed at Barca for 8 seasons. He scored 128 goals for Blaugrana helping his team win 2 La Liga`s, 2 Cups, Cup Winners Cup, European Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup and 2 Catalan Cups.
Luis Enrique came back to FC Barcelona last summer and is now Barca Athletic coach. When he returned his words were these: "I`ve returned home"
After quitting football, Lucho moved to Australia to practice surfing. Few years after he was running marathons, every year finished one of them (for those of you who don`t know it`s a 45 kilometers run).
Two years ago Enrique engaged in Ironman (competition that consists of running a marathon, swimming 3.9 km and 180 kilometers biking) and finished it successfully.
Looking at his perfect shape, one cannot but wonder, could he had stayed for few more season in FC Barcelona