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Rafael Alkorta Martínez (born 16 September 1968) is a Spanish retired footballer who played mainly as a central defender, and is the sporting director of Athletic Bilbao.

Rafael Alkorta
Personal information
Full name Rafael Alkorta Martínez
Date of birth (1968-09-16) 16 September 1968 (age 50)
Place of birth Bilbao, Spain
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Centre-back
Youth career
1978–1985 Athletic Bilbao
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1984–1987 Bilbao Athletic 44 (2)
1987–1993 Athletic Bilbao 172 (2)
1993–1997 Real Madrid 107 (2)
1997–2002 Athletic Bilbao 91 (4)
Total 414 (10)
National team
1985 Spain U16 7 (0)
1985–1986 Spain U18 3 (0)
1987–1990 Spain U21 6 (0)
1990–1998 Spain 54 (0)
1990–1999 Basque Country 5 (0)
Teams managed
2014–2015 Olympiacos (assistant)
2015–2016 Marseille (assistant)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Having represented Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid during a 17-year professional career, he amassed La Liga totals of 370 matches and eight goals, winning three trophies with the latter club.

Alkorta appeared in three World Cups with the Spanish national team during the 1990s.


Playing careerEdit


Born in Bilbao, Biscay, Alkorta began playing as a child with local Athletic Club in 1978, and made his senior debut with the second team seven years later, making 44 Segunda División appearances before being promoted by Howard Kendall to the senior side for the 1987–88 season,[1] making his debut in a 0–1 away defeat against Real Valladolid on 24 October 1987. He subsequently played 172 La Liga games, and established himself as an outstanding man marker.

Alkorta attracted the attention of Real Madrid, for whom he signed in the 1993–94 campaign (he was reluctant to make the move, but was persuaded due to Athletic's poor financial situation which was improved by the 350 million pesetas transfer fee).[2] During his spell at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium he formed a notable partnership with Fernando Hierro[3] for club and country, and accumulated more than 150 official appearances and two league titles.

Alkorta returned to Athletic in 1997–98, swapping teams with fellow defender Aitor Karanka.[4] He helped the Basque side finish second in the first campaign upon his return and went on to feature regularly in the following years but, after only six matches in 2001–02, was released and decided to retire from the game aged nearly 34.[5]


An international since 26 May 1990 (a 1–0 friendly away win with Yugoslavia),[6]Alkorta earned 54 caps for Spain during the next eight years. He played in three FIFA World Cups1990, 1994 and 1998 – and UEFA Euro 1996, also representing the country at under-16, under-18 and under-21 levels.

In the first competition, in Italy, Alkorta played ten minutes in a 2–1 group stage win over Belgium,[7] starting in a further 11 matches (ten complete) in the other senior tournaments combined.[8]

Coaching and administrative careerEdit

Alkorta worked as an assistant manager to former Real Madrid teammate Míchel at several teams, including Olympique de Marseille and Olympiacos FC.[9] In December 2018, following the election of Aitor Elizegi as the president of Athletic Bilbao, he was installed as the club's new sporting director, working with Andoni Ayarza[10][11] and replacing the long-serving José María Amorrortu.[12]

Personal lifeEdit

Alkorta's younger brother, Óscar, was also a footballer who was a midfielder. A fellow Athletic Bilbao youth graduate[13] (alongside José Félix Guerrero who also had a more famous sibling in the first team),[14] the younger Alkorta never made it past the reserves and played out his career in Segunda División B; the brothers were on the staff at Athletic together for a few months in 1997, between Rafael's return from Madrid and Óscar's move to CD Aurrerá de Vitoria.[15] Óscar later worked as a youth coach at Athletic Bilbao,[16] working under his older sibling from 2019.

Rafael's son Iker received some media attention for modelling work in 2017.[17]



  1. ^ Lowe, Sid (23 October 2015). "Remembering Howard Kendall's days as Athletic Bilbao manager". ESPN. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  2. ^ Rodrigálvarez, Eduardo (8 July 1993). "El traspaso de Alkorta al Real Madrid solventaría el déficit del Athletic" [Alkorta's transfer to Real Madrid would solve Athletic's deficit]. El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  3. ^ Estévez Pozo, José R. (1 August 2007). "La huella de Hierro y Alkorta" [The footprint of Hierro and Alkorta]. ABC (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  4. ^ Galaz, Mábel (13 August 1997). "Karanka, defensa central del Athletic, acepta la oferta para fichar por el Madrid" [Karanka, Athletic central defender, accepts the offer to sign for Madrid]. El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Alkorta: "Heynckes me mintió"" [Alkorta: "Heynckes lied to me"]. Diario AS (in Spanish). 3 July 2002. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  6. ^ Ortiz, Fabián (27 May 1990). "Con esta flor... ¡campeones!" [With this flower... champions!]. Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  7. ^ Santos, M. A. (22 June 1990). "¡España, campeona de grupo!" [Spain, group champions!]. Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  8. ^ Rafael AlkortaFIFA competition record
  9. ^ Mallo, Juanma (26 May 2017). "Alkorta y Alkiza, entre los posibles ayudantes de Ziganda" [Alkorta and Alkiza, among the possible assistants of Ziganda]. El Correo (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Alkorta y Ayarza serían director deportivo y secretario técnico del Athletic con Elizegi" [Alkorta and Ayarza would be sports director and technical secretary of Athletic with Elizegi]. El Mundo (in Spanish). 24 December 2018. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  11. ^ Aramendia, Arkaitz (30 December 2018). ""Llevo preparando esto desde hace mucho tiempo"" ["I've been preparing this for a long time"]. Deia (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  12. ^ Zaballa, Carlos (3 January 2019). "Amorrortu llega a un acuerdo "amistoso" para salir del Athletic" [Amorrortu reaches a "friendly" agreement to leave Athletic]. Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  13. ^ "Oskar Alkorta". Athletic Bilbao. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  14. ^ Martín, Javi (25 June 2015). "El último Bilbao Athletic en Segunda División: temporada 1995/96" [The last Bilbao Athletic in Second Division: 1995/96 season] (in Spanish). La Cantera de Lezama. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  15. ^ "Alkorta: Óscar Alkorta Martínez". BDFutbol. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  16. ^ Suso, Ramón (8 June 2017). "Alaña entrenará al Basconia; Solabarrieta, al Juvenil A y Galiano, al Cadete B" [Alaña will train Basconia; Solabarrieta, to Juvenile A and Galiano, to Cadet B]. Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  17. ^ Montes, Silvia (19 May 2017). "El hijo de Rafa Alkorta desfila como modelo" [The son of Rafa Alkorta parades as a model]. Diario AS (in Spanish). Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  18. ^ a b Jiménez, Mayca (30 November 2017). "¿Qué fue de Alkorta?" [What happened to Alkorta?]. Diario AS (in Spanish). Retrieved 21 June 2019.

External linksEdit