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Juanma Lillo
Personal information
Full name Juan Manuel Lillo
Date of birth 2 November 1965 (1965-11-02) (age 44)
Place of birth    Tolosa, Spain
Club information
Current club Almería (coach)
Teams managed
Amaroz KE
Cultural Leonesa
Ciudad Murcia
Dorados Sinaloa
Real Sociedad

* Appearances (Goals)

Juan Manuel 'Juanma' Lillo Díez (born 2 November 1965 in Tolosa, Guipúzcoa) is a Spanish football manager, currently in charge of UD Almería.

Having entered the coaching business before his 20s, Lillo became the youngest manager ever to coach a Spanish first division side, having taken over UD Salamanca at not yet 30.

Manager career

Lillo began coaching local team Amaroz KE at just 16 and, four years later, he took charge of Tolosa CF in Tercera División. Afterwards, he moved to CD Mirandés, also in that level, and led the club to promotion in the 1988–89 season, as champions.

Lillo spent 1991–92 at Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa, advocating a 4-2-3-1 formation. He became the youngest coach to attain the national coaching badge in Spain.

Lillo made his name as a manager at UD Salamanca, joining the club in mid-1992 at the behest of the club's chairman, Juan José Hidalgo. In his first season, he finished second in the third level, narrowly missing out on promotion playoffs, which he attained the following season, without any major changes to the team. This prompted reported interest from La Liga outfit Real Valladolid, but Lillo stayed with Salamanca until the end of 1995–96, with the club then in the topflight. This made the coach the youngest ever to manage at the highest level, at only 29. After 28 games in charge, with Salamanca four points into the relegation zone, he was dismissed, but players and fans publicly opposed the sacking, supporting Lillo in recognition of his achievements. Salamanca finished in last place, eleven points behind second-last finishers CP Mérida.

Lillo then had some spells in the first division; in 1996–97, he worked with Real Oviedo, but was fired before the end of the season due to poor results. He returned to management in February 1998 with CD Tenerife, helping them avoid relegation in his first season. The following season, however, he did not see out the year; he was sacked after 15 games (though the team was ultimately relegated).

After a year-and-a-half break, Lillo returned to take the reins of Real Zaragoza. The team had qualified for the UEFA Cup the previous season, and manager Txetxu Rojo moved to Athletic Bilbao. Lillo set about fulfilling the task of progressing in the European competition and repeating European qualification through the league, but did not achieve this; after barely three months, he was released from the head coach position, and this would be his last topflight spell.

Lillo did not return to coaching quickly; he worked as a commentator for television channel Antena 3, during its 2002 FIFA World Cup coverage. From 2003–05, he coached in the second division, with Ciudad de Murcia and Terrassa FC, with little success (the Catalans were even relegated).

In 2005, Lillo went to Mexico, joining Dorados de Sinaloa, resigning mid-season (the club was also eventually relegated). He insinuated that the team he was battling against to avoid relegation, Televisa-owned San Luis Fútbol Club, had gained unusual victories against more powerful opposition, which were also owned by the Televisa group. This caused much controversy in both the Mexican press and football league.[1]

Following the incident, Lillo spent the following two years away from football, until he was appointed as the new head coach of Real Sociedad in April 2008,[2] with the Basque in division two for the first time in its history. Despite losing only once during his tenure, he saw the club fail to reach a promotion spot, after finishing in sixth position; he was replaced by Martín Lasarte.

In late December 2009, Lillo replaced Hugo Sánchez at the helm of struggling UD Almería, just one place above the relegation zone.[3]


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