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REAL MADRID

Raul and Xabi mark start of new era at La Fábrica

Following Guti and Zidane, Raul and Xabi are the latest former Real Madrid stars to earn their coaching stripes at the club's famous youth academy.

In bygone days, illustrious Real Madrid players likes Miguel Malbo, Luis Molowny and Vincente Del Bosque took their first steps into coaching at Real Madrid’s youth academy, or La Fábrica (‘the Factory’) as it is commonly known. Today, more recent legends, Raul and Xabi Alonso, are earning their stripes coaching Madrid’s U-16s and Under-14s respectively, joining other former first-team players Solari Castilla and Alvaro Benito at La Fábrica.

The underage setup has changed dramatically since the days of Del Bosque and Malbo. Nowadays, La Fábrica is made up by 13 teams comprised of 250 players, amongst which perhaps lie some home-grown stars of the future. Far gone are the days when young players would stay at the boarding house of the legendary Doña Manolita. Today youngsters reside amongst the world-class facilities at Real Madrid City, located in the northern Madrid neighbourhood of Valdebebas.

A new era

In recent years, the likes of Zidane, Guti and Morientes have passed through La Fábrica, where now Raul, Xabi, Solari and Alvaro Benito oversee four of the 13 underage teams. Roberto Carlos is also playing an assistant role to U-19s coach Dani Poyotas, who returned to the club this summer to take over for Guti after a spell as assistant to Jordi Cryuff at Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Alvaro Benito, whose Real Madrid career was cut short by injury, joined the underage coaching setup in 2015, starting out with the U-11s, before moving on to coach the U-16s, U-17s and now the U-18s.

After Raul in August, Xabi Alonso is the latest to join La Fábrica, making his debut last weekend as coach of the U-14s, who finished third in a tournament in the city of Arnedo in the north of Spain.

These young players are still a long way from ever making it to the first team or even to the ranks of Real Madrid Castilla -- the reserve team that has been recently strengthened by the addition of 45-million-euro-signing Vinicius, whose arrival has apparently brought a breadth of fresh air to Valdebebas.

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