It’s Father’s Day this weekend and we complete the look at the story of Fernando Castro – the father of Perth Glory’s Diego – and his coaching career in Spain.
The second part of the Fernando Castro story starts in 1994, when he was capturing headlines across Spain having guided little SD Compostela from the fourth tier to the giddy heights of La Liga.
Following his success at ‘Los Compos’, Castro became the Head Coach of Celta Vigo heading into the 1995-96 season. Diego, meanwhile, was just 13-years-old and playing his junior football at AJ Lerez.
And so we continue our journey at one of Galicia’s two biggest teams (Deportivo La Coruna being the other).
Sporting Braga, Sevilla FC and several other prominent Iberian clubs were eager to clinch Castro’s signature.
Celta de Vigo, 1995-1997
Castro began his Celta Vigo career in 1995 with the club having finished 13th in the previous La Liga season. He improved their position to 11th in 1995-1996, finishing narrowly behind his old club, SD Compostela. The highlight of the season came on 7th January 1996, when Celta toppled Catalan giants FC Barcelona 1-0 at home in Vigo. Castro’s team also reached the Round of 16 of the Copa del Rey that year, before being bundled out by Valencia.
The next season would prove tougher for ‘Los Celticos’ as they would finish 16th in a fiercely-competitive division. It was still a season with its highlights, notably when the club absolutely obliterated a full- strength Real Madrid 4-0 at Balaidos, courtesy of a Vladimir Gudelj hat-trick.
Celta also went on a big cup run, making the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey before being edged out 2-1 by Real Betis. Castro found himself on the move again at the end of the season, leaving Galicia after 13 years of success in the country’s north-western region. But although he moved abroad for his next managerial challenge, he didn’t have to go far, as he headed just 50km south into Portugal.
Sporting Clube de Braga, 1997-98
Fernando Castro Santos became Portuguese Primeira Divisão outfit SC Braga’s first ever coach from across the border and to this day, remains the only Spaniard to be employed as their permanent coach. While encountering plenty of challenges, he pushed his career to a new frontier in Portugal; namely European football.
His Braga side began their UEFA Cup campaign by knocking off Dutch outfit Vitesse Arnhem 3-2, as an Artur Jorge brace in the away leg saw ‘Os Arcebispos’ (The Archbishops) progress to the second round. Braga then demolished Georgia’s Dinamo Tbilisi 5-0 to set up a meeting with Schalke in the Round of 16. But the Germans proved too tough a nut to crack as they ground out a 2-0 aggregate victory.
SC Braga were sitting in 10th position in January 1998 when Castro was dismissed as Head Coach and replaced by his assistant, Alberto Pazos. The club went on to finish 10th in the league, but also embarked upon a remarkable run in the Taça de Portugal (Portuguese Cup) which saw them advance all the way to the final where they were downed 3-1 by Porto.
Castro had got the side as far as the Round of 16 before his dismissal and after leaving with his head held high, he headed back across the border to southern Spain to rescue one of the country’s most historic clubs from the second division.
Sevilla Futbol Club, 1998-1999
Relegated in 1996-97, Sevilla FC were in deep trouble in Spain’s Segunda Division. Of course, Castro was greatly experienced in getting sides promoted and was therefore a natural fit for the Andalusian club as they sought to return to La Liga.
And his appointment proved to be an inspired one as Sevilla finished fourth in the league, thereby securing a place in the promotion play-offs.
Sevilla went on to defeat Villareal 3-0 on aggregate to consign El Submarino Amarillo (The Yellow Submarine) to relegation from La Liga and haul themselves back up into the top flight.
Despite that success, however, Castro departed the club in the off-season and they were relegated in the following season under Marcos Alonso. To this day, that remains the last time Sevilla CF was relegated as a football club.
Fernando Castro Santos during his time as Leixoes manager in 2010.
Club Deportivo Tenerife, 1999-2000
For the first time in his career, Castro left the Iberian mainland for the Canary Islands where he took charge of Segunda Division side CD Tenerife. During his one-season stint with the club, he led them to a mid-table finish and the following year, the ‘Chicharreros’ would gain promotion.
Polideportivo Ejido, 2000-2001
Interestingly, the start of the new millennium found Castro managing once again in Spain’s third division, Segunda B. This time, he was in charge of Ejido, a club based in a village on the Andalusian south coast. Amazingly, he drove ‘Poli’ to a second -place finish in Group IV of the Segunda B Division and then topped Atletico Madrid B, Espanyol B and Calahorra to achieve promotion to the Segunda Division.
It was the sixth time a Fernando Castro-coached club had been promoted and his performance at Ejido paved the way for his return to Portugal.
Sporting Clube de Braga, 2002-2003
Unfortunately, his second stint at ‘Os Arcebispos’ was no happier than his first, as the club finished 14th in the league, narrowly avoiding relegation. Braga were also upset early in the Taça de Portugal by second tier side Naval and in April 2003, Castro was dismissed for a second time by the club.
Castro managed Sporting Clube de Braga twice in 1997-1998 and 2002-2003.
Cordoba Club de Futbol, 2003
Castro then enjoyed a short spell at Andalusian club Cordoba in Spain’s Segunda Division. He took a sabbatical from coaching following this stint, before restarting his career in Andalusia again, this time with UD Almeria.
Union Deportiva Almeria, 2004-05
Despite a relatively fogettable season in Almeria, 2004-05 marked the first occasion in which Fernando Castro and son Diego faced each other in a professional game. Diego was playing for Malaga’s B side in the Segunda Division at the time and they would finish the campaign three points behind his father’s UD Almeria outfit.
Later stints at Union Deportiva Vecindario (2006-2007), Polideportivo Ejido (2008) and Leixões (2010)
Castro returned to the Canary Islands once again to coach minnows Union Deportiva Vecindario (now defunct) in 2006, before a return to Polideportivo Ejido in 2008 and a third spell in Portugal with Leixões in 2010.
Fernando Castro’s last managerial stint was at hometown club Pontevedra CF in 2010-11.