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McGuinness Appoints Former La Liga Manager to Assistant Coach

By James Thomas, 01/17/19, 12:00PM EST

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Former Athletic Bilbao Manager joins McGuinness' staff

Charlotte (NC) — On Thursday, the Charlotte Independence professional soccer team announced Assistant Coach Félix Sarriugarte has been added to new Head Coach Jim McGuinness’ technical staff. Sarriugarte began his coaching career in 2000 for Athletic Bilbao’s youth side, and climbed the club’s ranks to manage the La Liga first-team in 2006.

“We will be building a team that our fans will be proud of, on and off the field,” said Sarriugarte. “The Charlotte Independence is a club with incredible potential to grow and I believe in the structure the club has, the passion of the people involved and our relentless determination will drive the success of the club. I know that we can accomplish great things together and I cannot wait to get started.”

 “I'm very excited about the appointment and delighted Felix is joining us in Charlotte,” said Independence McGuinness. “He has a wealth of experience as a player in La Liga, and managing in that league, as well. It'll be a fantastic addition to the coaching staff, that we already have, to bring in someone of his caliber.”

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As a player, Sarriugarte began his career as a 16-year-old for Athletic Bilbao’s reserve team scoring 29 goals in 99 appearances. In 1984, Sarriugarte broke into the first team beginning a ten-year stint in La Liga. Following a 15-year professional playing career, Sarriugarte began his coaching career for his boyhood club at Athletic Bilbao for the youth team. Most recently, he managed Sestao River Club and Real Oviedo in the Spanish Segunda Division.  

“I think it's a really good fit because I am a young manager, moving to a new league and a new environment, so to have someone who has 'been there and done that' as a player and manager, it's a great resource for me to tap into all his knowledge,” said McGuinness. “When you move into a new job, it's important to have people around you who you believe in and who you trust, and our staff has a lot of depth there.”  

“When I first met Jim I knew straight away I could trust him,” said Sarriugarte. “We both share the passion for the game and with Jim´s leadership, combined with his energy and vision, this is an incredible opportunity that I am eager to be involved with. Jim has all the ingredients to be a success at the very highest level of the game.”

Sarriugarte joins former Charlotte Eagles and USL League Two Champion winning head Dave Dixon on Head Coach McGuinness’ technical staff. Last week, center back Hugh Roberts became the seventh player under contract for the 2019 squad, joining five returning players and two-time USL Championship MVP Finalist Enzo Martinez. The Independence will return to USL Championship action this spring at the Sportsplex at Matthews. For more information on 2019 Season Memberships, please visit charlotteindependence.com or call the Independence front office at 704-206-1515.

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