Today marks the birthday of Spanish Legend Fernando Hierro who graced Bolton Wanderers for a short tenure in the mid-2000s.
The word legend is often overused when looking back at a footballer’s career. Maybe it’s sepia-tipped nostalgia that clouds the true impact a player actually had when we reminisce about the halcyon days.
However, when Fernando Hierro arrived at the Reebok Stadium in 2004 there was no doubting of his legendary status within the game.
A glittering trophy-laden 14-year career with Real Madrid was juxtaposed with a stellar international representation that saw him capped by Spain on 89 occasions, finding the back of the net 29 times, a feat that was only surpassed by Raul who also took over the captain’s armband from Hierro upon his retirement.
After spending 16 seasons in La Liga – he began his career with Real Valladolid before moving to the Bernabeu – he moved to the Middle East for a spell with Qatar’s Al-Rayyan.
But after a year in the blistering heat and sands of desert-nation, the lure of returning to Europe proved to be too difficult for him to resist and he became a part of Sam Allardyce’s Reebok revolution, joining compatriot Ivan Campo in the North West of England.
He initially found it difficult to force his way into the team, but after being switched to a midfield role Wanderers fans truly saw the maestro in action.
His passing and reading of the game were exemplary and Wanderers fans were treated to some memorable moments, many of which were orchestrated by this Spanish genius.
In total he made 35 appearances for Wanderers in all competitions and scored one goal – a thumping header from a corner – in a 3-2 reverse at Carrow Road against Norwich in December 2004.
On the final day of that campaign, his retirement was confirmed when he was substituted during Wanderers' 3-2 victory against Everton at the Reebok Stadium.
He left to a standing ovation from both sets of supporters and players.
Hierro went on to become an assistant manager at Real Madrid before taking the reigns at Oviedo.
In 2018 he took charge of Spain’s World Cup campaign after the original manager Julen Lopetegui was dismissed from his role two days before the tournament began.