Aitor Karanka

Aitor Karanka

Karanka in 2009
Personal information
Full name Aitor Karanka de la Hoz
Date of birth (1973-09-18) 18 September 1973
Place of birth Vitoria, Spain
Height 1.81 m (5 ft 11 12 in)
Playing position Defender
Club information
Current team
Middlesbrough (head coach)
Youth career
1991–1992 Athletic Bilbao
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1992–1994 Bilbao Athletic 53 (2)
1993–1997 Athletic Bilbao 118 (2)
1997–2002 Real Madrid 93 (0)
2002–2006 Athletic Bilbao 64 (2)
2006 Colorado Rapids 28 (0)
Total 356 (6)
National team
1993–1996 Spain U21 14 (0)
1996 Spain U23 4 (0)
1995 Spain 1 (0)
1994–2004 Basque Country 6 (0)
Teams managed
2008–2010 Spain U16
2010–2013 Real Madrid (assistant)
2013– Middlesbrough

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

This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Karanka and the second or maternal family name is De la Hoz.

Aitor Karanka de la Hoz (Basque and Spanish pronunciation: [aiˈtoɾ kaˈɾaŋka]; born 18 September 1973) is a former footballer who played mainly as a central defender (on occasion, he occupied the left back position), and the current manager of English club Middlesbrough.

Save for a brief spell in the United States, at the age of 32, he played solely in Spain for Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid, appearing in 275 La Liga games over the course of 13 seasons and winning a total of seven major titles with the latter.

In the late 2000s Karanka started a managerial career, notably working as an assistant at Real Madrid[1][2][3] and in his own right at Middlesbrough.

Playing career


Athletic / Real Madrid

Born in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Álava, Karanka played as a youth with hometown's Deportivo Alavés and finished his formation with Basque neighbours Athletic Bilbao. He made his senior debuts with the reserves of the latter in 1992, competing with the team in Segunda División.

Karanka was promoted to the main squad by Jupp Heynckes in 1993, making his La Liga debut on 7 November in a 1–1 away draw against Celta de Vigo (90 minutes played)[4] and going on to feature in exactly 100 league matches in his three full seasons, before joining the German coach at Real Madrid in 1997.[5] With the capital team he was used mostly as a backup, but appeared in 33 UEFA Champions League games for the club, including the 1999–2000 final against Valencia CF (3–0 win);[6] he also missed the vast majority of the 1998–99 campaign due to a heart condition.[7]

Athletic return / USA

Karanka training with Athletic in December 2003.

For 2002–03, Karanka returned to Athletic Bilbao.[8] He helped the Lions qualify for the UEFA Cup in his second year, after a fifth place in the league.

Karanka switched to Major League Soccer and the Colorado Rapids in 2006.[9] In his only season in the United States he helped his team to the Western Conference play-off final, despite having his attempt saved by Darío Sala in the penalty shootout victory over FC Dallas in the semi-finals.[10]


Karanka only played once for Spain at senior level, on 26 April 1995 against Armenia for the UEFA Euro 1996 qualifiers, in Yerevan (2–0 win).[11] He made 14 appearances for the under-21s, and was a member of the team that finished runners-up at the 1996 European Championship in a final lost to Italy.[12]

Karanka also represented the nation in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, playing in four matches in an eventual quarter-final exit.[13]

Managerial career

In June 2010, Karanka was appointed assistant manager at former side Real Madrid, by newly appointed manager José Mourinho.[14] Three years later he left the club following the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti, who brought his own coaching staff.[15]

On 13 November 2013, Karanka was appointed manager of Football League Championship side Middlesbrough, replacing Tony Mowbray.[16] His first game in charge ended in a 1–2 away defeat against Leeds United, ten days later.[17]

On 25 April 2015, in the club's penultimate game of the season, Karanka sent goalkeeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos forward for an added-time corner kick, with the score 3–3 away to Fulham: with the goalkeeper out of position, the opponents scored a winner through Ross McCormack, which sent Watford into the Premier League and jeopardised Middlesbrough's own chances of promotion.[18] He did qualify his team to the play-off final after a 5–1 aggregate win over Brentford,[19] but they lost the decisive match 0–2 to Norwich City at Wembley Stadium.[20]

On 7 August 2015, Karanka signed a new four-year contract.[21] Boro were consistently in high positions during the campaign, but on 11 March 2016 he unexpectedly left the training ground after an argument and considered his future at the club; responsibilities for the subsequent match, at Charlton Athletic, were handed to his assistant Steve Agnew,[22] but the Spaniard returned to lead the team to the top division after a seven-year absence, as runners-up.[23]

Personal life

Karanka's younger brother, David, was also a footballer. A striker, he also appeared for Athletic's first team but with much less impact, going on to spend the vast majority of his professional career in the second level or the lower leagues.[24][25]




Real Madrid


Spain U21





Managerial statistics

As of match played 26 November 2016
Managerial record by team and tenure
Team From To Record Ref
Middlesbrough 13 November 2013 Present 153 75 38 40 49.0 [30]
Total 153 75 38 40 49.0


  1. Butragueño: "Karanka representa los valores de la casa" (Butragueño: "Karanka is what Real Madrid stands for"); Marca, 7 June 2010 (Spanish)
  2. Cristiano Ronaldo is the best in the world, says Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka, after Barcelona win; The Daily Telegraph, 22 April 2012
  3. Karanka demanding focus from Real; ESPN FC, 23 November 2012
  4. Heynckes lleva a cabo la revolución que anunció (Heynckes delivers promised revolution); Mundo Deportivo, 7 November 1993 (Spanish)
  5. Llegó el central (Stopper has arrived); Mundo Deportivo, 14 August 1997 (Spanish)
  6. Aitor Karanka de la Hoz – Matches in European Cups; at RSSSF
  7. Karanka y su corazón dicen hasta pronto (Karanka and his heart say see you later); El Mundo, 4 March 1998 (Spanish)
  8. El mejor refuerzo (The best signing); Mundo Deportivo, 29 May 2002 (Spanish)
  9. Real Madrid got real test from Union, says Kaká; Philadelphia Union, 24 July 2011
  10. Forbes, Brian (29 October 2006). "Shootout repeats history". The Denver Post. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  11. Amavisca se estrena (Amavisca gets his first); Mundo Deportivo, 27 April 1995 (Spanish)
  12. Italia ya ganó un Europeo a España en el 1996 (Italy has already won European Championships against Spain in 1996); Orgullo Bianconero, 18 June 2013 (Spanish)
  13. Aitor KarankaFIFA competition record
  14. Karanka será el segundo entrenador que pidió Mourinho (Karanka will be the assistant coach requested by Mourinho); Diario AS, 6 June 2010 (Spanish)
  15. Aitor Karanka and Real Madrid part ways; Real Madrid News, 16 July 2013
  16. Aitor Karanka: Middlesbrough name ex-Real Madrid man as boss; BBC Sport, 13 November 2013
  17. Leeds United 2–1 Middlesbrough; BBC Sport, 23 November 2013
  18. "Aitor Karanka: Middlesbrough risk dents Premier League dream". BBC Sport. 25 April 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  19. Newsum, Matt (15 May 2015). "Middlesbrough 3–1 Brentford". BBC Sport. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  20. Shepka, Phil (25 May 2015). "Middlesbrough 0–2 Norwich". BBC Sport. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  21. "Aitor Karanka: Middlesbrough head coach signs new deal". BBC Sport. 7 August 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  22. "Aitor Karanka: Middlesbrough head coach considering future at Riverside". BBC Sport. 12 March 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  23. "Middlesbrough strike it rich with Premier League promotion". The Express Tribune. 7 May 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  24. David Karanka desvela que Aitor puede volver a Bilbao (David Karanka reveals Aitor may return to Bilbao); Diario AS, 20 May 2002 (Spanish)
  25. 33 años no son nada (33 years is nothing); La Verdad, 4 October 2011 (Spanish)
  26. Newsum, Matt (7 May 2016). "Middlesbrough 1–1 Brighton & Hove Albion". BBC Sport. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  27. "Aitor Karanka named Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month". The Football League. 6 February 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  28. "Aitor Karanka named Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month". Middlesbrough F.C. 9 October 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  29. "Aitor Karanka named Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month". The Football League. 9 January 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  30. "Managers: Aitor Karanka". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 3 September 2016.

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