Gaizka Mendieta

Gaizka Mendieta

Mendieta in 1995
Personal information
Full name Gaizka Mendieta Zabala
Date of birth (1974-03-27) 27 March 1974
Place of birth Bilbao, Spain
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1992 Castellón 16 (0)
1992–1994 Valencia B 34 (4)
1993–2001 Valencia 230 (44)
2001–2004 Lazio 20 (0)
2002–2003Barcelona (loan) 33 (4)
2003–2004Middlesbrough (loan) 31 (2)
2004–2008 Middlesbrough 31 (2)
Total 395 (56)
National team
1991 Spain U18 5 (0)
1993 Spain U20 3 (0)
1992–1996 Spain U21 13 (0)
1996 Spain U23 2 (0)
1999–2002 Spain 40 (8)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Mendieta and the second or maternal family name is Zabala.

Gaizka Mendieta Zabala (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈgaiθka menˈdjeta θaˈβala], Basque: [gais̻ka mendieta s̻aβala]; born 27 March 1974) is a retired Spanish footballer who played as a midfielder.

Versatile, with good offensive and tackling skills and also being capable of creating goals for teammates and himself, he played mainly for Valencia, and finished his career at Middlesbrough of England.[1] Over the course of ten seasons he amassed La Liga totals of 263 games and 48 goals.

Mendieta played 40 times with the Spanish national team, appearing with it in one World Cup and one European Championship.

Club career


Born in Bilbao, Basque Country, Mendieta made his professional debut at just 17 with CD Castellón, in Segunda División. After just one season he moved to La Liga after signing with Valencia CF, but spent the vast majority of his first year with the reserves, making his first team debut on 13 June 1993;[2] he played 34 of 42 games during the 1995–96 season as the side finished runners-up, its best result since 1990.

The 1997–98 campaign was Mendieta's breakthrough season, under new manager Claudio Ranieri. He played 30 league matches and scored ten goals, soon making his debut for the national team. In June 1999 he won his first trophy with Valencia, beating Atlético Madrid in the Copa del Rey.

Under new manager Héctor Cúper, Mendieta had an even better year in 1999–2000. He helped Valencia beat FC Barcelona 4–3 on aggregate to win the Spanish Supercup, and netted a career-best 13 goals as the Che finished third. However, the biggest triumph of the season was helping his team reach the final of the season's UEFA Champions League, a 0–3 loss to fellow league side Real Madrid; later, he was awarded the "European Midfielder of the Season" award.[3]

Valencia reached the final of the Champions League in the following year and lost it again, this time to FC Bayern Munich after a penalty shootout. Mendieta scored a penalty in normal time (1–1) and also converted his attempt in the shootout,[4] being again named "UEFA Best Midfielder of the Year".[5]

Moving abroad

Mendieta was one of the most sought-after players in the 2001 off-season, eventually earning a 48 million transfer to Italian club S.S. Lazio, being at the time the sixth most expensive player of all time.[6] However, he disappointed in Serie A, spending only one year with the Rome club while failing to match the performances of departed playmakers Pavel Nedvěd and Juan Sebastián Verón.

Mendieta was loaned to FC Barcelona for the 2002–03 season[7] – he started most of the year, but the Catalans could only rank sixth – and subsequently he moved to Middlesbrough.[8]


In his first season at Middlesbrough, Mendieta was part of the team that won the Football League Cup, bringing the Teesside club its first ever silverware.[9] At the end of the season, the move was made permanent.

In his last two years at Middlesbrough, a string of injuries and long duration of regaining match fitness relegated Mendieta to the substitutes bench. He fell out of favour with manager Gareth Southgate, who made it clear that the player no longer featured in his first team plans. Reports suggested that Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao and Málaga CF were interested in purchasing the midfielder in the January 2007 transfer window, however no concrete agreement was ever made, and the transfer deadline passed amid speculation that the player was set for a move to Los Angeles Galaxy;[10] however, towards its end, he was quoted to have said that he would fight for his place at Middlesbrough. A day later, Boro's chief executive Keith Lamb disregarded his comments saying that there was "no chance" of him entering the first team. He played his last game on 26 December 2006, against Everton.[11]

On 5 December 2007, according to a Spanish newspaper,[12] Mendieta announced his retirement from professional football when his Middlesbrough contract expired at the end of the 2007–08 season,[13] He was finally released on 13 May 2008, ending a successful 17-year professional career.[14]

On 3 November 2009, Mendieta was quoted as saying a part of him would be interested in football management when interviewed by the BBC. He said: "A part of me can see the excitement and challenge of being a manager, definitely." After retiring, he settled with his family near Middlesbrough, in Yarm.[15]

International career

In March/May 1996, Mendieta was part of the Spanish under-21 national team which was runner-up in the UEFA European Championship. He made his senior side debut on 27 March 1999, coming on as a substitute for Juan Carlos Valerón in a 9–0 thrashing of Austria for UEFA Euro 2000's qualifying stages; he was included in the list of 22 for the competition in Belgium and the Netherlands, helping the national side reach the last eight.[16]

Despite his form slump at Lazio, Mendieta was picked for the squad at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, scoring one goal in three matches for the eventual quarterfinalists, against South Africa (3–2 win).[17] The last of his 40 caps was gained in a friendly with Bulgaria in Granada, four months after the World Cup.

International goals

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 5 June 1999 El Madrigal, Villarreal, Spain  San Marino 9–0 9–0 Euro 2000 qualifying
2. 7 June 2000 Josy Barthel, Luxembourg, Luxembourg  Luxembourg 1–0 1–0 Friendly
3. 21 June 2000 Jan Breydel, Bruges, Belgium  Yugoslavia 3–3 3–4 Euro 2000
4. 25 June 2000 Jan Breydel, Bruges, Belgium  France 1–1 1–2 Euro 2000
5. 24 March 2001 José Rico Pérez, Alicante, Spain  Liechtenstein 4–0 5–0 2002 World Cup qualification
6. 24 March 2001 José Rico Pérez, Alicante, Spain  Liechtenstein 5–0 5–0 2002 World Cup qualification
7. 1 September 2001 Mestalla, Valencia, Spain  Austria 4–0 4–0 2002 World Cup qualification
8. 12 June 2002 Daegu World Cup, Daegu, South Korea  South Africa 1–2 2–3 2002 World Cup


Mendieta at a concert (2015)

Mendieta was sponsored by sportswear company Nike, and appeared in commercials for the brand. In a global advertising campaign in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, he starred in a "Secret Tournament" commercial (branded "Scorpion KO") directed by Terry Gilliam, appearing alongside footballers such as Luís Figo, Thierry Henry, Hidetoshi Nakata, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Totti, with former player Eric Cantona the tournament "referee".[18][19]




Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Spain League Copa del Rey Copa de la Liga Europe Total
1991–92CastellónSegunda División16000--00160
1992–93ValenciaLa Liga2000--0020
Italy League Coppa Italia League Cup Europe Total
2001–02LazioSerie A20040--70310
Spain League Copa del Rey Copa de la Liga Europe Total
2002–03BarcelonaLa Liga33410--132476
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
2003–04MiddlesbroughPremier League312106100383
Country Spain 28049260--51934164
Italy 20040--70310
England 624717170836
Total 362533717165945570








Spain U21



  1. "Gaizka Mendieta: 39 años de una leyenda" [Gaizka Mendieta: 39 years of a legend] (in Spanish). Deporte Valenciano. 27 March 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  2. "Gaizka Mendieta". Middlesbrough F.C. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  3. "Real storm to Cup glory". BBC Sport. 24 May 2000. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  4. "Bayern crowned European champions". BBC Sport. 23 May 2001. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  5. 1 2 "Liverpool lose out at UEFA awards". RTÉ Sport. 24 August 2001. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  6. "Mendieta agrees to Lazio move". BBC Sport. 19 July 2001. Retrieved 2 November 2009.
  7. "Barca seal Mendieta loan deal". BBC Sport. 20 July 2002. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  8. "Boro sign Mendieta". BBC Sport. 21 August 2003. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  9. "Boro lift Carling Cup". BBC Sport. 29 February 2004. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  10. "Boro's Mendieta could be US bound". BBC Sport. 6 February 2007. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  11. "Everton 0–0 Middlesbrough". BBC Sport. 26 December 2006. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  12. Gaizka Mendieta se retira (Gaizka Mendieta retires); Levante EMV, 5 December 2007 (Spanish)
  13. Mendieta decides to retire; This is North East, 6 December 2007
  14. Paylor, Eric (9 October 2008). "I'm glad I came to Boro – Mendieta". Evening Gazette. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
  15. What became of Gaizka Mendieta?; BBC News, 3 November 2009
  16. "Raul miss sends France through". BBC Sport. 25 June 2000. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  17. "Heartbreak for South Africa". BBC Sport. 12 June 2002. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  18. "A lighter shoe, cooler kits, a faster ball, a Secret Tournament – every touch counts". Nike. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  19. Cozens, Claire (3 April 2002). "Cantona hosts World Cup with a difference". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  20. "Gaizka Mendieta". Footballdatabase. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  21. "Gaizka Mendieta Zabala – International Appearances". RSSSF. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  22. "Clemente: "Merecimos vencer sobradamente"" [Clemente: "We deserved to win by far"] (in Spanish). Mundo Deportivo. 1 June 1996. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  23. "Games of the XXVI. Olympiad". RSSSF. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  24. "Europe U-21 Championship 1994". RSSSF. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  25. Starcevic, Nesha (25 August 2000). "Nightmare draw for Leeds as Istanbul beckons again". The Independent. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
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