July 23 (Reuters) – Factbox on Gerardo Martino who was appointed coach of La Liga champions Barcelona on Tuesday following Tito Vilanova’s resignation on health grounds:
* Born on Nov. 20, 1962 in Rosario, Argentina’s second city, Martino was a midfielder and team captain with Newell’s Old Boys where he spent the bulk of his career before reaching coaching heights steering Paraguay to the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 2010.
Martino, surprisingly capped only once by Argentina, spent most of his career at Newell’s as a midfielder, playing a record 509 matches and winning three league titles, two under his mentor Marcelo Bielsa, with whom he added defensive discipline to his attacking skills.
He came through the junior ranks and stayed on as a professional for a decade before trying his hand in Spain at Tenerife, a short-lived experience.
Nicknamed “Tata” (grandad), he returned to Rosario for another three years, had a season at Lanus in Buenos Aires, then saw out his career with brief stints back at Newell’s and, perhaps a premonition, Barcelona of Ecuador.
Began coaching in the Argentine lower leagues before moving to Paraguay where he made his name, winning four league titles in six years, three with Libertad and one with Cerro Porteno.
His club success in Paraguay earned him the appointment as coach of the country’s national team in 2006. His side reached the 2010 World Cup, their fourth finals in a row, and qualified for the last eight for the first time, losing 1-0 to eventual champions Spain.
Martino steered Paraguay to the Copa America final in his home country in 2011 but then quit and also turned down a lucrative offer from Colombia to return to Newell’s, where there is a stand named after him at the Marcelo Bielsa ground, to help them avoid relegation.
APPOINTMENT AT BARCELONA
Much more than just steadying a rocking boat, the 50-year-old steered Newell’s clear of relegation a year ago and then led them to second place in the “Inicial” championship, first of two in the Argentine season, before winning the “Final” last month.
They were the most consistent side in 2012/13, playing the best football in Argentina along similar lines to those at Barcelona.
This success caught the eye of the Catalan giants where Martino will link up with Lionel Messi, who also comes from football hotbed Rosario.
Martino is the fourth Argentine to take charge at Barcelona after Helenio Herrera in 1958, Roque Olsen in 1965 and Cesar Luis Menotti in 1983. (Compiled by Rex Gowar; Editing by Sonia Oxley)