Rubén Baraja

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Rubén Baraja
Ruben Baraja 01 (cropped).jpg
Baraja as Elche manager in 2016
Personal information
Full nameRubén Baraja Vegas
Date of birth (1975-07-11) 11 July 1975 (age 43)
Place of birth Valladolid, Spain
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
Senior career*
1993–1995 Valladolid B 46 (11)
1993–1996 Valladolid 41 (2)
1996–1999 Atlético Madrid B 79 (20)
1999–2000 Atlético Madrid 34 (4)
2000–2010 Valencia 263 (41)
National team
1993 Spain U18 3 (1)
2000–2005 Spain 43 (7)
Teams managed
2011 Atlético Madrid (assistant)
2013–2015 Valencia (youth)
2013 Valencia B (interim)
2015–2016 Elche
2016–2017 Rayo Vallecano
2017–2018 Sporting Gijón
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Rubén Baraja Vegas (Spanish pronunciation:  [ruˈβeŋ βaˈɾaxa] ; born 11 July 1975) is a Spanish retired footballer, and is a manager.

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

Manager (association football) Head coach of an association football team

In association football, a manager is an occupation of head coach in the United Kingdom responsible for running a football club or a national team. Outside the British Isles and across most of Europe, a title of head coach or coach is predominant.


A complete central midfielder with good tackling, technique, and offensive qualities, together with accurate passing and goalscoring ability, [1] [2] he played mostly for Valencia during a 17-year professional career, being an essential figure in five of the club's major titles, which included two La Liga championships. [3]

Valencia CF Spanish association football club

Valencia Club de Fútbol, commonly referred to as Valencia CF or simply Valencia, is a Spanish football club based in Valencia. They play in La Liga. Valencia have won six La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles, two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups, one UEFA Cup, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and two UEFA Super Cups. They also reached two UEFA Champions League finals in a row, losing to La Liga rivals Real Madrid in 2000 and German club Bayern Munich on penalties after a 1–1 draw in 2001. Valencia were also members of the G-14 group of leading European football clubs and since its end has been part of the original members of the European Club Association. In total, Valencia have reached seven major European finals, winning four of them.

The Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera División, commonly known as La Liga, is the men's top professional football division of the Spanish football league system. Administered by the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional, also known as the Liga de Fútbol Profesional (LFP), La Liga is contested by 20 teams, with the three lowest-placed teams at the end of each season relegated to the Segunda División and replaced by the top three teams in that division.

Baraja was also a consistent part of the Spain national team for five years, appearing in one World Cup and one European Championship and winning 43 caps.

Spain national football team National association football team representing Spain

The Spain national football team represents Spain in international men's association football since 1920, and is controlled by the Royal Spanish Football Federation, the governing body for football in Spain.

FIFA World Cup association football competition for mens national teams

The FIFA World Cup, often simply called the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The championship has been awarded every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 when it was not held because of the Second World War. The current champion is France, which won its second title at the 2018 tournament in Russia.

UEFA European Championship European association football tournament for mens national teams

The UEFA European Championship is the primary association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), determining the continental champion of Europe. Held every four years since 1960, in the even-numbered year between World Cup tournaments, it was originally called the UEFA European Nations' Cup, changing to the current name in 1968. Starting with the 1996 tournament, specific championships are often referred to in the form "UEFA Euro [year]"; this format has since been retroactively applied to earlier tournaments.

Playing career


Born in Valladolid, Castile and León, Baraja started his career at local Real Valladolid before moving to Atlético Madrid, where he would spend two and a half seasons with the reserves, first appearing with the first team on 7 February 1999 by playing the second half of a 1–2 defeat at UD Salamanca. [4] In 1998–99, with the B's in the second division, he scored a career-best 11 goals.

Valladolid Municipality in Castile and León, Spain

Valladolid is a city in Spain and the de facto capital of the autonomous community of Castile and León. It has a population of 309,714 people, making it Spain's 13th most populous municipality and northwestern Spain's biggest city. Its metropolitan area ranks 20th in Spain with a population of 414,244 people in 23 municipalities.

Castile and León Autonomous community of Spain

Castile and León (, ; Spanish: Castilla y León[kasˈtiʎa i leˈon]; Leonese: Castiella y Llión[kasˈtjeʎa i ʎiˈoŋ] is an autonomous community in north-western Spain.

Real Valladolid Spanish football club

Real Valladolid Club de Fútbol, S.A.D., or simply Real Valladolid or Valladolid, is a football club based in Valladolid, Spain, in the autonomous community of Castile and León, from where the nickname Pucela is derived. The colors that identify the club are the violet and white, used in the form of streaks in his uniform holder from its foundation on 20 June 1928. It plays in La Liga, holding home games at the Estadio José Zorrilla, which seats 26,512 spectators.

When Atlético was relegated at the end of 1999–2000, Baraja left the club in a 2,000 million pesetas transfer to that year's UEFA Champions League finalists Valencia CF, [5] who were looking to strengthen their central midfield following the sale of first-team players Gerard and Javier Farinós. In his first season he was a key element in the Che's Champions League run, as they were beaten in the final for the second year running, this time losing in a penalty shootout to FC Bayern Munich, with the player scoring on his attempt. [6]

The 1999–2000 La Liga season, the 69th since its establishment, began on 21 August 1999 and ended on 20 May 2000. Deportivo La Coruña won their first league title with 69 points, the lowest for a champion since three points for a win was introduced in 1995.

Spanish peseta older currency of Spain

The peseta was the currency of Spain between 1868 and 2002. Along with the French franc, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra.

1999–2000 UEFA Champions League football tournament

The 1999–2000 UEFA Champions League was the 45th season of the UEFA Champions League, UEFA's premier European club football tournament, and the eighth season since its rebranding from the "European Champion Clubs' Cup" or "European Cup". The competition was won by Real Madrid, who clinched a historic eighth title win by beating fellow La Liga side, Valencia in the final. The final was hosted in the Stade de France in Paris, the city where the original roots of the competition had begun nearly 50 years earlier.

2001–02 would see Baraja's first trophy win, where his goals late in the campaign helped Valencia to their first La Liga title in 31 years – he finished as team top scorer in the league, netting seven in only 17 league games after recovering from a knee injury. [7] [8] 2003–04 was another big year, winning both the domestic championship (with eight league goals from him) as well as the UEFA Cup, beating Olympique de Marseille 2–0 in the final. [9]

The 2001–02 La Liga season, the 71st since its establishment, started on 25 August 2001 and finished on 11 May 2002.

The 2003–04 La Liga season, the 73rd since its establishment, started on 30 August 2003 and finished on 23 May 2004. Valencia were crowned champions for the 6th time in their history.

2003–04 UEFA Cup football tournament

The 2003–04 UEFA Cup was won by Valencia in the final against Marseille. It wrapped up a league and UEFA Cup double for Valencia.

In 2006–07, Baraja only made 14 league appearances as Valencia finished fourth, and continued to be constantly bothered by physical problems in the following years. After two respectable seasons, often partnering longtime central midfield partner David Albelda, [10] he was again greatly troubled by injuries in the 2009–10 campaign, featuring in only 18 matches (two complete); on 16 May 2010 he closed his chapter at the Mestalla Stadium after one full decade, receiving homages before and after the 1–0 home win against CD Tenerife and being replaced to a standing ovation in the 89th minute. [11] The 35-year-old announced his retirement shortly after, having appeared in 338 first division games over 15 seasons and scored 47 goals.


Baraja made his debut for Spain on 7 October 2000, in the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification 2–0 win over Israel. [12] Consequently, he was picked for the final stages, where the team reached the quarter-finals before being sent out by co-hosts South Korea on penalties, though the player, as the year before with Valencia, once again scored on his attempt; he scored from a header during regulation time, but saw his goal disallowed for alleged shirt pulling and pushing in the Korean penalty area. [13] [14] [15]

Baraja also took part in the disappointing UEFA Euro 2004 tournament, [16] where Spain was eliminated in the group stage by eventual finalists Portugal and Greece. [17] [18] He was left out of the 2006 World Cup squad, [19] as his club presence was also diminished due to recurrent injuries. [20] [21] [22]

Coaching career

In June 2011, Baraja returned to former team Atlético Madrid as part of newly appointed manager Gregorio Manzano's coaching staff. [23] In the summer of 2013 he returned to main club Valencia, first coaching the youths [24] then the reserves.

On 12 July 2015, Baraja was appointed manager of Elche CF, newly relegated to the second tier. [25] On 6 June of the following year, he resigned after failing to agree new terms. [26]

On 8 November 2016, Baraja took the reins at fellow league team Rayo Vallecano. [27] After only three wins from 13 games, he was sacked on 20 February 2017 as they sat a point above the relegation places. [28]

On 12 December 2017, Baraja was appointed at Sporting de Gijón. [29] Towards the end of the season, he received a four-match ban and a €3,005 fine for preventing FC Barcelona B's Sergi Palencia from taking a throw-in; [30] this included the first game of the play-offs, in which eventual champions Valladolid eliminated the Asturians 5–2 on aggregate in the semi-finals. [31]

On 18 November 2018, Baraja was dismissed after losing the Asturian derby against Real Oviedo, leaving the team in 14th position with a streak of only one win from 11 matches. [32]

Personal life

Baraja's younger brother, Javier, was also a professional footballer. A defender, he too graduated at Valladolid, and went on to spend most of his senior career there. [33]

Career statistics

[34] [35]


Valladolid B 1993–94 Segunda División B 208208
1994–95 263263
Valladolid 1993–94 La Liga 5151
1994–95 9090
1995–96 271271
Atlético Madrid B 1996–97 Segunda División 221221
1997–98 328328
1998–99 25112511
Atlético Madrid 1998–99 La Liga81402 [lower-alpha 1] 0141
1999–2000 263526 [lower-alpha 1] 2377
Valencia 2000–01 La Liga3542115 [lower-alpha 2] 2527
2001–02 1771 [lower-alpha 1] 0187
2002–03 3551012 [lower-alpha 2] 42 [lower-alpha 3] 0509
2003–04 3586211 [lower-alpha 2] 25212
2004–05 257208 [lower-alpha 4] 13 [lower-alpha 5] 1389
2005–06 314201 [lower-alpha 6] 0344
2006–07 141103 [lower-alpha 2] 0181
2007–08 252813 [lower-alpha 2] 0363
2008–09 283414 [lower-alpha 1] 12 [lower-alpha 3] 0385
2009–10 180208 [lower-alpha 1] 0280
Career total4637837774127158198
  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Appearances in UEFA Cup / UEFA Europa League
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Appearances in UEFA Champions League
  3. 1 2 Appearances in Supercopa de España
  4. Six appearances and one goal in UEFA Champions League, two appearances in UEFA Cup
  5. Two appearances in Supercopa de España, one appearance and one goal in UEFA Super Cup
  6. Appearance in UEFA Intertoto Cup




International goals


1.11 October 2000 Ernst Happel, Vienna, Austria Flag of Austria.svg  Austria 1–11–1 2002 World Cup qualification
2.25 April 2001 Nuevo Arcángel, Córdoba, SpainFlag of Japan.svg  Japan 1–01–0 Friendly
3.17 April 2002 Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland Ulster Banner.svg  Northern Ireland 0–20–5Friendly
4.12 October 2002 Carlos Belmonte, Albacete, SpainUlster Banner.svg  Northern Ireland 1–03–0 Euro 2004 qualification
6.18 February 2004 Lluís Companys, Barcelona, SpainFlag of Peru (state).svg  Peru 2–12–1Friendly
7.5 June 2004 Alfonso Pérez, Getafe, SpainFlag of Andorra.svg  Andorra 2–04–0Friendly

Managerial statistics

As of 17 November 2018
Managerial record by team and tenure
Valencia B (interim) Flag of Spain.svg 15 December 201322 December 2013110021+1100.00 [37]
Elche Flag of Spain.svg 12 July 20156 June 2016431319114349−6030.23 [38]
Rayo Vallecano Flag of Spain.svg 8 November 201620 February 2017133461214−2023.08 [39]
Sporting Gijón Flag of Spain.svg 12 December 201718 November 201843209145942+17046.51 [40]



Valencia [3]


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