I was born in Lekeito, Biscay, on 27th March 1974.
My earliest memories are of playing football, though to be honest I almost gave it up for athletics, a sport in which I nearly won some important medals in the lower categories and which I combined with football until that wasn’t possible any more and I had to choose. I began in the world of football with Deportes Tonín in Castellón, where I played for a season. My club début came with C.D. Castellón, with whom I played 16 matches for the first team in the Spanish Second Division (Segunda A). After those matches, Valencia C.F. signed me up for the following season.
SUCCESS IN VALENCIA AND DEBUT WITH NATIONAL TEAM
My beginnings at Valencia C.F. weren’t easy, but over time I earned a place in the team and ended up becoming the captain. The ten seasons with Valencia C.F. were the best of my sporting career. I won trophies (one Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey), one Spanish Super Cup (between league and cup winners) and a UEFA Intertoto Cup), and I reached two Champions League finals (2000-2001), in which I was individually named the best midfielder in the competition both times. What’s more, in that period in Valencia C.F. I debuted with the Spanish national team, playing from 1999 to 2002 in a World Cup, a UEFA European Championship and an Olympic Games.
LAZIO AND FC BARCELONA TWO YEARS OPPOSITE
After some great seasons with Valencia C.F. I wanted to take up a new challenge in the Italian league, so I signed for Lazio. However, things didn’t go as I had hoped. I was only there for one season, then I went back to the Spanish league, LaLiga, this time with FC Barcelona, where I played with great players who later became friends like Kluivert, Xavi, Iniesta and Puyol.
MIDDLESBROUGH, BIG YEARS AT THE PREMIER
After my time in Barça, I decided to play in the Premier League, where I’d always wanted to play, signing for Middlesbrough, a humble team where I intended to make a significant mark. Just one year later we managed to win the League Cup (EFL Cup), then we reached the UEFA Cup final two years later. In 2008 I decided to retire from professional football.
LALIGA AMBASSADOR AND TV
My fondness for the British Isles and their culture helped me adapt quickly and after retiring I decided to stay and live in London, carrying out several projects I had in mind as well as collaborating with different sports media on TV such as BeIN Sports, Sky Sports, Supersport from Africa and Astro TV, all of whom I am still working with today.
I still have ties with LaLiga today as one of its ambassadors around the world, promoting and raising awareness about this competition’s values together with other colleagues such as Carles Puyol, Diego Forlán, Robert Pirés, Fernando Morientes, David Albelda, Christian Karembeu, Xavi Hernández and others.For LaLiga, I take part with other veterans in Legends and All Star Team matches, as well as the Legends Spanish national team (AEDFI) and FC Barcelona Legends, playing tournaments that are big in the media such as the Star Sixes and the Legends Cup, along with Ronaldinho, Zidane and Maradona.
MY PASSION FOR MUSIC: DJ MENDIETA
Another of my passions is the world of music. In my time as a player, I always tried to find music stores and get some items in the cities where we were going to play. Over the years I’ve built up a catalogue of music that I decided to share by starting to DJ in small parties with friends. Over time, my DJ side has been gaining ground and whenever my schedule lets me, I enjoy deejaying with rock and roll at the various events they hire me for, such as the recent Champions league finals, private parties and some international festivals.