September 24, 2021

Lucas Vazquez, Kepa Arrizabalaga and others who have grown under SC East Bengal’s new manager Manolo Diaz

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The current East Bengal coach has been associated with Real Madrid Castilla in two different stints…

East Bengal have once again rekindled their love affair with Spanish managers as the Red and Gold brigade appointed Manolo Diaz as their head coach for the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) season after mutually terminating Robbie Fowler’s contract. 

Their first Spanish manager was Alejandro Menendez in the 2018-19 I-League season, who was succeeded by Mario Rivera Campesino. Like Menendez, the current coach also has a history with Real Madrid Castilla, the reserve team of European giants Real Madrid. Diaz was in charge of the side in two different stints. He has also worked with Real Madrid’s Juvenil B side (U19) earlier in his career. 

In 2008, he took the reins at Navalcarnero, a side which is currently plying their trade in Spanish fourth tier. He first got associated with Real Madrid Castilla in November 2013. After being in charge for 28 games he somehow managed to fend off relegation for the developmental team. In July 2014, he joined Ponferradina where he worked with Chelsea’s goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. 

He once again returned to Castilla in October 2018 and was working as an assistant to Santiago Solari. However, in November when Solari was called up to lead the senior team, Diaz came in the Castilla hot seat. 

During his managerial career, mostly as a developmental coach, he has worked with many players who have gone on to make a name for themselves. Let us take a look at some of those bright graduates who have trained under him. 

LUCAS VAZQUEZ

The versatile right winger trained who currently plays for Real Madrid trained under him in Castilla during the 2013-14 season. He has got 167 caps for Madrid and has scored 15 goals for the club. 

DIEGO LLORENTE

The centre-back failed to make a place for himself at Real Madrid, after graduating from Castilla but was a regular face in La Liga, playing for Rayo Vallecano, Malaga, and Real Sociedad. He currently plies his trade with Leeds United in the Premier League.

FERNANDO PACHECO

Pachecho was the first-choice goalkeeper during Diaz’s Castilla stint in 2013-14. The goalkeeper made his Real Madrid debut in a 5-0 win over UE Cornella in Copa Del Rey and also travelled to FIFA Club World Cup as an unused third-choice keeper. Although he did not find success in Madrid, he has found first-team minutes at Alaves since 2017. 

RAUL DE TOMAS

The Madrid-born striker honed his skills at Castilla under Diaz in 2013-14. He scored seven goals and provided two assists in that season and was rewarded with a first-team call up in 2014-15. Although he could not find his footing with Los Blancos, he was in terrific form for Espanyol in the previous season where he scored 23 goals in 37 matches to propel his side back to La Liga. 

Mariano Diaz

The striker made his Castilla debut under Diaz on January 18, 2014 in a 2-1 loss against poting Gijon in the Segunda Division. He replaced Raul de Tomas to come in for the final five minutes. After a successful stint with Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyon he came back to Real Madrid and continues to be a part of the team.

Kepa Arrizabalaga

The Chelsea goalkeeper was the first-choice keeper at Ponferradina in the Segunda Division during the 2014-15 season.  He kept seven clean sheets in that season. 

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