Rafa Benitez has appointed 43 year-old Mikel Antia to his coaching team at Newcastle and he will become assistant manager to Rafa, replacing the departed Fabio Pecchia, who left to manage Verona.
Antia was a defender who had a career that lasted from 1992, when he played for the Real Madrid B team under Rafa Benitez through 2006, when he finished playing after two years with the Real Union club.
Antia played for eight different clubs – all Spanish.
Mikel Antia – new assistant manager at Newcastle
Here is the official announcement the club had just put up on the web-site:
Newcastle United are pleased to confirm the appointment of Mikel Antia to Rafa Benitez’s coaching team.
The 43-year-old Spaniard joins United from the Aspire Academy in Qatar where he has been part of the coaching team tasked with developing young Qatari players.
He replaces Fabio Pecchia, who this week joined Serie B side Verona as the Italian side’s new manager.
Mikel, who hails from San Sebastian in Spain, had spells as a player at the Real Madrid Academy where he played under Rafa Benitez for four seasons, before moving to Real Valladolid in La Liga, also with Benitez.
Mikel later moved on to play for Celta Vigo and Real Sociedad.
The rest of Rafa Benitez’s coaching staff, consisting of Francisco de Míguel Moreno, Antonio Gómez Pérez, Ian Cathro and Simon Smith, will remain at St. James’ Park.
Rafa Benitez said:
“I am delighted that Mikel is joining my staff. He is a very talented coach and I know he will add great expertise to my team.
“At the same time I am sad to see Fabio depart as he has been an excellent professional from the first day until the last in the years we have worked together.
“He leaves to face these new and exciting challenges, both personally and professionally. I wish him all the best and say thank you.”
It’s also good news that Ian Cathro and goalkeeping coach Simon Smith remain at the club.
So Rafa as usual – doesn’t mess around and quickly brought in his third Spanish coach to his Newcastle coaching team, following Fabio’s departure.