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VALENCIA 2 - ESPANYOL 1

Pako Ayestarán joins Gary Neville's technical team

The Basque coach, who was Rafa Benítez’s assistant for almost a decade, returns to Valencia to form part of Gary Neville’s coaching staff.

Pako Ayestarán joins Gary Neville's technical team

Valencia confirmed on Saturday night that Pako Ayesterán will be incorporated into Gary Neville’s coaching team as the new assistant coach. Ayestarán makes his return to the club he left in 2004 to join Rafa Benítez at Liverpool – winning the Champions League in his first season and the FA Cup the following. His most recent post was with Mexican side Santos Laguna, who he left in November just three days before their final Apertura 2015 game against Chivas. Prior to his second spell in Mexico (with Estudiantes Tecos), Ayesterán enjoyed a successful stint at Maccabi Tel Aviv, guiding the team to an unprecedented league, State and Toto Cup treble.

The 53-year-old will join Neville’s other assistants Miguel Ángel Angulo and brother Phil Neville and was the choice of Director of Sport Jesús García Pitarch. Voro, Julio Gigueroa, Juan Albors, Luis Silvestre and goalkeeping coach José Manuel Ochotorena – who Pako knows from his time at Valencia and Liverpool, comprise Gary Neville’s new technical team.

Ayesterán, a fitness and nutrition expert, was a familiar face at the club’s training complex in Paterna – he started out as Rafa Benítez’s right-hand during their time together at Osasuna in 1996, and followed the Madrid-born manager to Extremadura, Tenerife, Valencia and Liverpool. He later worked alongside Quique Sánchez Flores at Benfica before returning back to Valencia to join Unai Emery’s staff. Spells at Al-Ahli and Estudiantes Tecos followed – the latter, his first as head coach.

Valencia have brought him back for his vast experience, knowledge of the club and its philosophy and because he is a fluent English speaker. After a complicated period, his relationship with Benítez is back on an even keel, but his incorporation by no means suggests that the ex-Madrid could also return to the club.