Real Madrid make peace and heal old wounds with former stars
Florentino has reconciled with several Real Madrid icons, who left the club under a cloud or in traumatic circumstances. Casillas is the latest to return home.
Iker Casillas' return to Real Madrid, where he will work initially with the club's Foundation, is the latest part of Florentino's process of bringing back some of the club's iconic players - many of whom left under a cloud or unceremoniously. Before Iker, other historic figures buried the hatchet to return - including Raúl, Fernando Hierro, Guti and even, in his own way, Luis Figo.
Hierro, assistant to Ancelotti
One of the first players to put any bad blood behind him to return to the Bernabéu was Hierro. After the successful experience of having Zidane as his assistant during his first year as first team coach Carlo Ancelotti chose Hierro, who had been director of sport with Spain's national team and Málaga to be his number two during his second season. It was a reencounter with Florentino years after the monumental bust-up during the league title celebrations in 2003 which ended with both Hierro, the captain, and Del Bosque, the coach leaving without renewing their respective contracts. The historic centre-back helped Carletto before later moving on to coach Oviedo. He maintains a good relationship with the club and a couple of weeks ago was at the Alfredo Di Stéfano to watch the derby.
Raúl, Trofeo Bernabéu and now Zidane's future successor
He had a frosty goodbye at the end of the 2009-10 season when he left to join Schalke. Years later, he was invited back for a proper tribute with Al-Sadd for the Trofeo Bernabéu. A full house (86.000 fans) turned up to watch him play a half with each club. Once he had retired and patched thinhs up with Florentino, he decided to move into coaching - starting out with the youth teams in Valdebebas. Raúl is still cutting his teeth as a coach in La Fábrica. He has coached the Under-15s, the Under-19s and has two years under his belt with Castilla. Along the way his side lifted the Youth League back in August with encouragement from Florentino on the sidelines in Nyon. The club view him as Zidane's natural successor one day in the future.
Guti, given a coaching opportunity in 'La Fábrica'
The former number 14 spent most of his life at Real Madrid but left with no fanfare or fuss. He continued playing in Turkey, against his wishes, because Madrid refused to renew his contract. "I've given half of my life to this club; I joined aged nine and I'm leaving aged 33 - I'm sad that I am not able to retire here," he admitted. But not long after he had hung up his boots, Madrid offered him the chance to further his coaching career with the youth teams - although as an assistant. Eventually it was Víctor Fernández who gave him the chance to coach the Under-19s, who he guided to glory in the Champions Cup and Copa del Rey. He was denied an opportunity to take the next step up to coach Castilla - that went to another former player, Santiago Solari, and he left soon afterwards. With Guti, it's probably a case of 'see you soon'.
Figo, only with the veterans
Figo's case is a tricky one. He made the peace with Madrid after leaving to join Inter five years on from being the bombshell that helped Florentino's electoral campaign. You often see Figo back at the Bernabeu, wearing his old number 10 shirt in the annual Corazón Classic Matches alongside other veteran players, but the diplomacy stops there. "I'll never go back to Madrid just for the sake of it," he told AS a few months ago. At the moment he is still working as an ambassador for UEFA. An issue that hasn't quite been fully resolved for Florentino.
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