Luis ‘Suarez’ Miramontes: Spain National Team Manager (1988/1991)
As a player, Luis Suarez had been one of the greatest players of his Generation. He was born on May 2nd, 1935 at La Coruña. It was there that he made his debut for Deportivo La Coruña (1953/54). After a year stint at Espana Industrial (1954/55), he joined Barcelona in 1955 and in the next six years he would establish himself as one of the greatest Spanish players of his day, despite the European dominance of Alfredo Di Stefano’s Real Madrid. He would be awarded France Football’s Ballon d’Or in 1960, thus becoming the first Spanish-born player (and remains to date the only one) to win the prestigious award. His brilliance at Barcelona earned him a transfer to Italy’s Internazionale Milano in 1961. It was there that he would be instrumental in the greatest Era of the club’s history that led to Champions Cup triumphs in 1964 and 1965. He would leave Inter in 1970 to join Sampdoria to play out his playing career until 1973.
He took up club Management but had mostly short stints: Inter (1975), Sampdoria (1975), SPAL (1975/76), Como (1976/77), Cagliari (1977/78) and Deportivo La Coruña (1978/79).
In 1980, he started working for the Spanish Federation by taking charge of the Under-21 side. He would remain in the post for the next eight years and help develop many of the players that he would eventually manage at Senior level.
His greatest achievement was winning the Under-21 European Championship title vs. Italy in 1986.
Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 25, February 1991(Luis Suarez)
In the summer of 1988, the Spanish Federation appointed Luis Suarez as its new National Team Manager replacing the legendary Miguel Munoz.
Spain had just wrapped up a disappointing Euros in West Germany where they had lost two of their three matches.
He was tasked with the 1990 World Cup qualification by rebuilding a side that had ran out of steam. He was known affectionately as ‘Luisito’ by the Press and regarded as a man open to dialogue with players. Upon taking over he also had to quell the unending internal rivalry and animosity between Real Madrid and Barcelona players that would constantly threaten to derail the National Team’s interests.
He was faced with the International retirements of key veterans such as Jose Antonio Camacho, Victor, Ricardo Gallego and Rafael Gordillo.
He would build his new side with the remnants of the old guard plus some newcomers.
He took charge at a time when Real Madrid’s ‘El Quinta del Buitre’ was the rage and the backbone of the team would comprise of these Real Madrid stars.
He would appoint Emilio Butragueno (‘El Buitre’) as his new Captain. Manuel Sanchis in defense, and Michel and Martin Vazquez would lead in midfield.
Photo From: Todo Sobre La Seleccion Espanola, Felix Martialay, 2006
Barcelona goalkeeper Andoni Zubizaretta would remain untouchable in the net, while younger Barça midfielder Roberto would now be given a prominent role.
One of the key players of the 1986 triumph, Athletic Bilbao defender Genar Andrinua had broken through in the National Team towards the tail end of Miguel Munoz’s reign and Suarez would keep faith with in the center of defense.
He elevated another 1986 graduate, Juan Abladeno as the understudy to Andoni Goicoecthea replacing Real Madrid’s Paco Buyo.
Barcelona had gone on a spending spree that summer and recruited Internationals such as Julio Salinas and Eusebio Sacristan (another 1986 graduate) of Atletico Madrid and the Real Sociedad trio of Jose Maria Bakero, Aitor Beguitistain and Lopez Rekarte. The opportunities for these players, who for the most part were on the fringes of Miguel Munoz’s main side appeared to increase under the new management of Suarez.
Luis Suarez’s first match in charge of Spain was a Friendly at Oviedo vs. an emerging Yugoslavia side on September 14th, 1988.
He handed an International debut start to Julio Salinas’ brother Patxi of Bilbao.
In the second half, he handed more debuts to Quique Flores (1986 graduate), as well as Francisco Ferreira and Nando (of Valencia).
Most of these newcomers would soon disappear without a trace except Quique Flores, ho would soon become an integral part of Suarez’s new defensive line.
Michel gave Spain the lead in the first half (25th minute). In the second half, Yugoslavia struck back (Mehmet Bazdarevic 46th minute and Borislav Cvetkovic 84th minute) as Suarez introduced many substitutes.
Photo From: (Magazine Source unknown) / Contribution From a blog viewer (special thanks to Jose Luis Carbonell)(Spain squad, September 14, 1988, Spain1 -Yugoslavia 2)
One of Suarez’ starting choices Miguel Soler (another new recruit for Barcelona) would be out of Suarez’s plans (Although he would get another cap in 1991 under Suarez).
Spain’s next match would also be a Friendly (Copa Hispanidad) to celebrate the Spanish Federation’s 75th Anniversary on October 12th, 1988. Spain’s opponents for this match at Sevilla would be Diego Maradona’s Argentina.
The absence of Miguel Chendo allowed Suarez to start Quique Flores in defense. Barcelona’s Lopez Rekarte was also tried out in defense (for the last time, as he would also soon be discarded). In the second half, Suarez would hand an International debut to Sevilla defender Manuel Jimenez.
His integration would be a success and he would remain as a key player in Luis Suarez’s defensive line.
In the match, Spain took a quick lead through an Emilio Butragueno strike in the 7th minute (which was vehemently protested by the Argentines as being offside). Butragueno scored another goal soon thereafter (14th minute) that was called off due to an infraction.
Argentina tied the match just before halftime by Claudio Caniggia and a draw seemed a fair result.
Photo From: (Magazine Source unknown) / Contribution From a blog viewer (special thanks to Jose Luis Carbonell)(Spain squad, October 12, 1988, Spain 1-Aregntina 1)
After two friendlies, Spain’s 1990 World Cup qualifiers were underway. On November 16th, 1988, Spain hosted their most dangerous opponent in the Group: Jackie Charlton’s Republic of Ireland. The Irish had surprised most observers by qualifying for the last Euros and had ambitions to qualify for their first ever World Cup Finals.
They had a number of injuries, which favored the Spain as the host team.
Suarez had now established Quique and Jimenez (first start) in defense along with Sanchis and Andrinua.
He surprisingly gave an International debut to Real Sociedad’s Alberto Gorriz at the age of 30. He would be another one of the newcomers who adapted to Suarez’s tactics and would remain in the squad (at least until 1990).
He also handed another debut late in the match to another one of his 1986 graduates, defender Jesus Solana of Real Madrid (this would be his sole appearance in a Spanish shirt).
Photo From: (Magazine Source unknown) / Contribution From a blog viewer (special thanks to Jose Luis Carbonell)(Ray Houghton and Michel, November 16, 1988, World Cup Qualifier, Spain 2-Republic of Ireland 0)
However, the most important debutant that day would be Atletico Madrid forward Manolo. He would undoubtedly be the most successful of debutants in the Suarez era.
He would score in his International debut in the 53rd minute. Manolo would later score another goal in the 62nd minute that was called off before Emilio Butragueno scored the second in the 65th minute to give Spain an important (2-0) morale-boosting win over their likeliest closest rival in the Group.
Sevilla’s Ramon Vasquez would later replace Manolo in the match, but he would not make an impact and slowly disappear from Suarez’s plans.
Confident after their win over Ireland, they faced the other Ireland (Northern) in the following month at Sevilla for their second qualifier on December 21st, 1988.
The match would be a total rout as Northern Ireland were no match for the Spanish and lost (0-4) in a match that included two own goals by the Irish (First and fourth goals).
The first was due to an erroneous backpass by the Northern Irish defender Anton Rogan (30th minute) and the other was a shot by Roberto that was deflected in by John McClelland (64th minute). In between Emilio Butragueno scored (55th minute), as did Michel from the spot (61st minute).
Barcelona defender Ricardo Serna made his International debut as a second half substitute.
Photo From: France Football, Issue 2229, December 27, 1988(Butragueňo and Alan McDonald, December 21, 1988, World Cup Qualifier, Spain 4-Northern Ireland 0)
Spain ended the year the following week (December 28th) by defeating club side Celta Vigo (2-1) with goals by Roberto (18th Minute) and Martin Vazquez (26th minute) with Celta replying through Amarildo (59th minute, penalty kick).
Suarez fielded two teams in each half and tried out many new players, some of which would not earn official caps (Lemos, Mino, Orejuela, Loren, Villa) and some others who would later be capped (Fernando Giner, Fernando Hierro, Rafa Paz, Minguela, Juan Carlos).
One of the selected players, Real Sociedad’s Juan Larrañaga had earned one cap earlier in the year under Miguel Munoz but would not earn any Official caps under Suarez.