Luis Enrique and FC Barcelona have a long-standing connection. After one season playing for his hometown club of Sporting Gijón and five at Real Madrid, it was announced on 27 May 1996 that he was coming to FC Barcelona. ‘Lucho’ was the second of many signings that summer. The Dream Team era under Johan Cruyff was over and Bobby Robson was the new manager of a side that had recently signed Laurent Blanc and add Ronaldo and Pizzi to the mix soon after.
Although the transfer was announced exactly two decades ago, the Asturian’s contract with Real Madrid was still valid until June 30 so he wouldn’t sign his new one with the Catalan club until July 23, the day when he was officially presented alongside Pizzi. Luis Enrique said at the time that he was “very pleased that there have not been any problems with Real Madrid because both club and player were interested in this move. So we are all happy.”
Twenty years later, and Luis Enrique is back at Barça, this time as manager. And a very successful one too, having achieved the treble in his first year and the double in his second. After winning the Copa del Rey at the Calderón last Sunday, he said that “I feel Catalan like any other. Even though I’m from Gijón and an Asturian, my wife and children are Catalan and could not feel more appreciated or more loved than I do at my club. The affection people have shown me since the day I arrived, some time ago back in 1996, means that I shall never have the time or the energy to reward them for all that they have given me.”