Rafael Iriondo, Spanish football player and manager, Died at 97


Rafael Iriondo Aurtenechea was born on October 24, 1918, and died on February 24, 2016, in Bilbao.

He was a Spanish football forward and manager.

Rafael played in a total of 286 games and obtain 88 goals over the course of 15 seasons, with Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad.

Iriondo consequently became a manager, working for nearly 30 years and being in charge of both clubs.

At Biscay, he arrived at Basque giants Athletic Bilbao in 1940, from Atlético Tetuán.

Aurtenechea made his La Liga debut on September 29 in a 2–2 draw at Valencia CF and, during his 13-year spell with the club, would form an historic offensive partnership with Agustín Gaínza, José Luis Panizo and Telmo Zarra, helping Athletic to the 1942–43 league and four Copa del Generalísimo trophies.

After he had 328 official games for Athletic with 115 goals, Iriondo moved to another team in the region, Barakaldo CF, in 1953.

Following a few months, he returned to the top division and joined Real Sociedad, retiring shortly after the end of the 1954–55 season.

Rafael Iriondo Aurtenechea started coaching immediately after retiring, with modest SD Indautxu in the second division.

Rafael Iriondo Aurtenechea continued in his native Basque Country in the following years, with Deportivo Alavés and Barakaldo.

During the 1968 to 1969 campaign, Iriondo returned to Athletic Bilbao as head coach, helping the club to the 11th place in the league and the season’s domestic cup.

Rafael Iriondo Aurtenechea would also manage the team for two full seasons in the mid-70’s, interspersed with stints at RCD Español, Real Zaragoza and Real Sociedad.

His last coaching job was with Real Betis: he led the Andalusians to the 1977 Spanish Cup, but suffered top flight relegation in the following season.

The he had 15 matches at Rayo Vallecano in 1980, he returned to Betis for one final campaign in 1981–82, being one of three managers to help the team finish sixth in the first division.

Rafael Iriondo passed away at 97 yrs old.