Luis Enrique and Abelardo were together at Barça for six years / PHOTO - FCB Archive

Luis Enrique faced old club Sporting at the Camp Nou in 1990-91/ PHOTO - FCB Archive

[[DES_1]]Saturday is going to be a special day for FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique. Two clubs close to his heart, Celta and Sporting Gijón, will both be at the club, one at the Camp Nou and one at the Miniestadi. The Asturian managed Celta last season, and Sporting is the club where it all started for him.

Asturian past

Luis Enrique joined Sporting Gijón at the age of 18 after impressing at Club Deportivo La Braña. After one season in the reserves, he was handed a first team place and provided a return of fourteen goals in his first year, including the all-important one that qualified the team for the UEFA Cup. It wasn’t long before even bigger clubs had their eye on the promising youngster, and he ended up playing for five years at Real Madrid and then eight at FC Barcelona, where he’d end up being first team captain.

Brother Abelardo

Speaking before the Clasico, Luis Enrique described Sporting manager Abelardo Fernández, a fellow Asturian and former Barça team-mate, as his “friend and brother … He’s doing very well on a very limited budget and with a very young group of lads.” The red-and-whites are the only side that’s still unbeaten in the second division and are third in the table as they come to the Miniestadi to face Barça B.

Good memories of Celta

After retiring from playing, Luis Enrique went into management at Barça B, then AS Roma and last season at Celta Vigo, who he guided to a respectable ninth place in the table. Current Barça player Rafinha was with him at the time, as were former reserve team members Nolito and Fontàs.

Barça B v Sporting: free entrance for members per fcbarcelona

Barça years with Abelardo

Abelardo and Luis Enrique have led almost parallel lives. They both began at Club Deportivo La Braña, both played for the Sporting reserves, and both finished up playing for FC Barcelona. Abelardo arrived in 1994/95 and Luis Enrique two years later. They’d be in the same squad for six years through to 2002 playing under Bobby Robson, Louis van Gaal, Llorenç Serra Ferrer and Carles Rexach and winning, among other trophies, two leagues, two cups and the European Cup Winners Cup. Abelardo left the club in 2002, and Luis Enrique departed two seasons later.

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