Iñaki Sáez

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Iñaki Sáez
Personal information
Full name José Ignacio Sáez Ruiz
Date of birth (1943-04-23) 23 April 1943 (age 76)
Place of birth Bilbao, Spain
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Playing position Defender
Youth career
1958–1961 San Vicente
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1961–1962 Barakaldo
1962–1974 Athletic Bilbao 263 (7)
National team
1968 Spain 3 (0)
Teams managed
1974–1978 Athletic Bilbao (youth)
1978–1979 Bilbao Athletic
1980–1981 Athletic Bilbao
1982–1983 Bilbao Athletic
1986 Athletic Bilbao
1987–1991 Bilbao Athletic
1991–1992 Athletic Bilbao
1993–1994 Las Palmas
1995 Las Palmas
1996 Albacete
1996–2001 Spain U18
1996–2002 Spain U21
1997–2001 Spain U20
2000 Spain U23
2001–2002 Spain U19
2002–2004 Spain
2004–2008 Spain U21
2005 Spain U20

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

José Ignacio "Iñaki" Sáez Ruiz (born 23 April 1943) is a Spanish retired football defender and manager.

The vast majority of his professional career was spent with Athletic Bilbao, which he later also coached in various levels, appearing in more than 300 official games with his main club.

In addition to two other clubs (other than Athletic), Sáez managed the Spanish national team during two years, being in charge at Euro 2004.

Playing career

Born in Bilbao, Basque Country, Sáez joined local giants Athletic Bilbao in 1962, from neighbouring Barakaldo CF. He totalled 46 La Liga games – with five goals – in his first two seasons combined, but appeared in only 20 in the following three combined, due to injuries.

Again healthy, Sáez appeared regularly for Athletic from 1967–74, helping the Lions to two Copa del Rey trophies, and retired at the age of 31, having appeared in nearly 350 official games for the club. He was part of a legendary defense that also featured José Ángel Iribar in goal, Luis María Echeberría and Jesús Aranguren.[1]

Sáez gained three caps for Spain in one month in 1968, his first and his last appearance being against the same opponent, England, in two losses for the UEFA Euro 1968 qualifying stage (0–1 in London, 1–2 in Madrid).

Coaching career


Aged only 32, Sáez began a managerial career, taking charge of Athletic Bilbao's youth sides for five years. Only two games into the 1980–81 season, Austrian Helmut Senekowitsch was fired,[2] and he led the team to a final ninth position, and returned again to the B-team, helping it to a Segunda División return in 1983.

Sáez again took the reins of the first team in 1985–86, replacing Javier Clemente for the final 13 games of the season, and leading Athletic to the third place, behind Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. In the following four seasons, he coached the reserves in the second level, being again promoted to the first team midway through 1990–91, again replacing Clemente, and being himself fired after round 23 of the following campaign, as the team only finished two points above the relegation zone.[3]

After two spells with UD Las Palmas, both in division three, Sáez was appointed at Albacete Balompié in the top flight, replacing fired Benito Floro in mid-March 1996, his first game in charge being a 0–2 away loss against Real Madrid as the season finished in relegation through the playoffs.


In the 1996 summer, Sáez was appointed the Spanish under-21 team manager, winning the UEFA European Championship two years later, after defeating Greece. Also being in charge of the under-20s, he led them to the FIFA World Cup of the category in 1999, in Nigeria.[4]

In 2002, Sáez was named José Antonio Camacho's successor at the helm of the senior team,[5] being in charge until the end of Euro 2004[6][7]which ended in group stage exit – and collecting 15 wins, six draws and two losses in his 23 games in charge.

Subsequently, Sáez returned to the under-21 team,[8] retiring from the football world in 2008 at the age of 65.



Athletic Bilbao


Bilbao Athletic
Spain U18
Spain U19
Spain U20
Spain U21
Spain U23


External links