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José Antonio Camacho - a great defender, even greater manager: Part 1 (24th September, 2017)

Following his retirement as a player in 1989, which included 15 first-team seasons at Real Madrid, Camacho began coaching in Real Madrid's coaching staff. His first professional experiences were spent at Rayo Vallecano (1992-93) and Espanyol (1994-96), both of which he helped promote to the top division.

After a spell at Sevilla (1996-97), and another spell at Espanyol (1997-98) where he led Espanyol to a Europa League spot, in the summer of 1998, Camacho took over Real Madrid's first team, but left after only 22 days over disagreements with the club's management.

Camacho succeeded Javier Clemente as national team manager in September 1998, after a shock 2-3 loss in Cyprus in a Euro 2000 qualifier. The tide quickly turned under the new boss, who led the side to the final stages, where it bowed out to eventual champions France in the quarter-finals. Two years later, Camacho's team lost in the same stages to South Korea, now in the 2002 World Cup; following the controversial defeat he announced his resignation, being replaced by Iñaki Sáez.

Camacho returned to club action subsequently, being appointed at Benfica from Portugal on 29 November 2002 in the place of sacked Jesualdo Ferreira. Two years later, his team won the Taça de Portugal against José Mourinho-led Porto in extra-time, as well as finishing second in the Primeira Liga.

For the 2004-05 season, Camacho returned to Real Madrid on a two-year contract as a replacement to sacked Carlos Queiroz. However, things quickly went wrong again in his second spell after a 0-3 defeat at Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the campaign's UEFA Champions League, and a 0-1 league loss at Espanyol four days later, in September; shortly after, he resigned and was replaced by assistant Mariano García Remón.

Following Fernando Santos' mutual agreement termination of contract with Benfica, after a 1-1 away draw with Leixões S.C. in 2007-08 Portuguese League's opener, Camacho returned to Benfica. However, following a poor string of results, and claiming he was no longer able to motivate the team, he announced he would leave the club, minutes after drawing a home match against bottom-placed U.D. Leiria on 9 March 2008.

After working as co-commentator on Spanish TV network Cuatro during Spain's victorious Euro 2008 campaign (he would also work for the channel during the 2010 World Cup, which also ended with the national team's triumph), on 13 October 2008, Camacho replaced José Ángel Ziganda at the helm of Osasuna.

In the 2008-09 season, as coach of Osasuna for 32 matches, he achieved the goal of survival in La Liga by winning in the last two matches against Barcelona and Real Madrid - the subsequent season, he was able to keep Osasuna up as well. However, on 14 February 2011, following a 0-1 away loss against Real Sociedad that placed the Navarrese inside the relegation zone, Camacho was fired. The club eventually finished in ninth position.

On 13 August 2011, Camacho took over the reins of the Chinese national team, signing a three-year deal for a reported annual salary of US$8 million. However, China failed to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, after only finishing third in the third qualifying round with three wins and three losses. Camacho was also in charge as a Chinese young squad lost 0-8 to Brazil on 10 September 2012 in a friendly match, the national team's worst-ever defeat which also meant the drop to an all-time low 109th position in the FIFA World Rankings.

In the first game of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualification campaign, Camacho and China lost 1-2 against Saudi Arabia. Following a 1-5 shock friendly loss to Thailand on 15 June 2013, he was relieved of his duties.

One reason cited for Camacho's shortcomings in Asia was the limitation of football boots. The Chinese FA ordered that all the national team players were to wear Adidas, whilst most players in the Chinese Super League wore Nike, thus creating discomfort.

Camacho was appointed as Gabon manager 43 days before the start of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations who was to take place in that country, replacing Jorge Costa. The team exited in the group stage, with three draws.

He is still a manager there today.

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He was short. Very short. At 5'3", the left winger sometimes played in an over-sized shirt.

The ball never left his feet. His feet were tiny but they had magic. A dizzying array of body feints, close control, direction changes and sheer speed, often resembling a roller-coaster, left opposition defenders outwitted. And yes - sometimes, he frustrated. Sometimes, he was irregular.

But when he turned up, the world was at his feet.

If Juan Quero plays against Real Madrid he'll be playing against the club that let him go. The club that didn't think he had it in him to become a La Liga player.

The club that was wrong. Very, very wrong - he went fr…