A spacious office within Valdebebas was the setting for Real Madrid’s 2020-2021 squad construction plan. Picture Jose Angel Sanchez sat across from Zinedine Zidane divulging their opinions on the likes of Ødegaard and others. The message from the club was clear — there will be no major investments in new signings. Despite the hurdle, that would not stop either from pushing forward on the premise of incorporating new faces and fresh competition into the squad.
Jose Angel Sanchez (JAS), is no stranger to these types of meetings. In fact, he has been at the club since the year 2000 and has been promoted various times, now acting as a CEO or the right-hand man to club President, Florentino Perez. Sanchez lurks in the shadows, but is ever-present. You can count on one hand the amount of interviews he has given to the press in recent years, but he is a man connected to all the right people in the world of football.
Few would have predicted the trajectory of Jose Angel’s career path. Born in Segovia, the Spaniard graduated with a degree in Philosophy. One may have expected a career in law or teaching, but instead Jose Angel Sanchez is now one of the executive decision makers at the biggest football club in the world. It was his charismatic personality and creative mind that often drew him to sales and marketing roles within the corporate world. Once his studies were finished, Jose Angel Sanchez worked as a promoter of sales for El Corte Ingles before eventually moving to a marketing role with video-game producer, Sega. It was at Sega that he quickly climbed the corporate ladder. His ingenuity, ability to connect with people, and understanding of a brand as well as the value of marketing meant he was promoted quickly. First, to marketing director for the company and quickly there after, Sanchez moved up to CEO of Southern Europe.
“Jose possesses an interesting mixture of natural friendliness, professional competence and natural authority, I was always impressed by his combination of strong personality, engaging, sympathetic charisma and great intellect.” emphasized Michael Reschke, the current director of football for Germany and former Sporting director at Stuttgart. “He manages to create an atmosphere of conversation that is characterized by trust and respect”, he reveals about Jose Angel Sanchez.
When Florentino was first elected as president in the year 2000, he recruited Jose Angel Sanchez to join his team. Sanchez and Florentino forged a new path in world football, understanding that revenue would increase when substantial investments were made in global super stars. The likes of Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo, and Beckham would fill seats, sell shirts, bring new fans, and put Real Madrid in a new stratosphere in terms of their marketing potential. Florentino always admired Jose Angel Sanchez’s foresight and understanding of global marketing concepts, but it’s believed that Jose Angel Sanchez truly earned Florentino Perez’s trust when he was able to convince a well-known Spanish journalist to stop publicly criticizing the president. That action, coupled with Jose Angel’s ability to network and create close ties with some of the biggest names in football, made him indispensable.
In fact, Sanchez was so indispensable that when Florentino left the presidency after 2005, Ramon Calderon kept the Spaniard around to help Pedrag Mijatovic secure big-name transfer targets. Like we have seen with Luis Enrique and Roberto Moreno or even Zinedine Zidane and Antonio Pintus, choosing to stay and be a part of a new regime can oftentimes burn bridges with the former. But, being the clever and cunning man that he is, Jose Angel Sanchez continued to keep close contact with Florentino Perez. In fact, it is believed that Jose Angel was the voice for Florentino in the Real Madrid boardroom and would relay the latest on goings of the club’s decision back to the former president. When Florentino took over for his second reign in 2009, Jose Angel Sanchez was there beside him again a crucial cog in the Real Madrid system.
Jose Angel Sanchez has thrived as the club’s “closer”. The David Beckham deal was Jose Angel Sanchez’s doing. The Cristiano Ronaldo deal again was negotiated and closed by Jose Angel Sanchez. The negotiations for Toni Kroos’ contract renewal – Sanchez again. His warm energy comes through in his brief appearance in the documentary film, KROOS, where he hugs the player and expresses his belief that Toni is the best German player to ever play for the club. He dishes out sincere compliments, asks about Toni’s wife, and can joke with each of Toni Kroos’ representatives. It is that sort of sociability which has allowed him to flourish in his role. CEO’s of other top European clubs have tremendous respect for Jose Angel Sanchez and often laud the Spaniard.
Though, not everyone views the executive in rosy light. He has been criticized in the past after the fax debacle with the David De Gea transfer and the Cheryshev Copa del Rey embarrassment. Some at boardroom level feel he has too much power. Many at the club wished to see Sanchez removed after there were rumors of a scandal between himself and Real Madrid’s former sponsor, BWIN. Yet despite some controversy over the years, Jose Angel Sanchez remains.
And by remaining, the club has hit historic highs in recent years. The construction of a squad that played and won 4 Champions League finals in 5 years has much to do with Jose Angel Sanchez. Any praise for success attributed to Florentino Perez should be equally shared with his right hand man. The Spaniard prefers to be in the background, away from the eyes of the press, but his work should be recognized. Sanchez has taken the road less traveled, but his journey from the historic and awe-inspiring city of Segovia to studying for a philosophy degree, followed by an unprecedented career rise at Sega, to finally finding his niche as the CEO of Real Madrid CF, is certainly a path worth traveling.