• Nursing Carvajal, injured after playing 436 minutes with Madrid and 180 in the break with Spain
  • Champions The football war in the last Champions League before the change of format: "The Super League is a reaction to this"

Antonio Hurtado's film life began in Puertollano in 1959. There, in the depths of La Mancha, he fell in love with football and frequently attended with his uncle the old Calvo Sotelo field, where the village team came to dispute the promotion phase to First Division. 60 years later, that boy from La Mancha became one of the most important people in the history of Unión Berlín, a club that today opens its life in the European Cup visiting the Santiago Bernabéu. "After this, what is there? It's a dream," admits Hurtado in conversation with EL MUNDO from his seat as a professor at the University of Dresden. He is no longer part of the board because he wanted to hurry his years in teaching, but this afternoon he will sit in the box of Chamartín. In the German team they adore him, they have him as an advisor and they wait for him when he retires the books.

The current success of Union Berlin is not understood without Hurtado, although he, modest, prefers to derive the conversation from the beginning towards the resurrection of the club in 2004. Antonio arrived in Germany in 1972 forced by his parents. "I didn't want to," he says. They landed in Ludwigsburg, next to Stuttgart, where he began to study. "I finished school, studied to be a draughtsman and then entered university. I loved the German order. I did engineering and went to work in Mönchengladbach until they called from the University of Ludwigsburg to start a PhD. Two years later I moved to Aachen, on the border with Belgium, to do a postdoc, and later to a company in Dresden, in Saxony, where I worked in the development of technical plants. From there I got the opportunity to go to Berlin to a state waste management company. It was December 1999," he summarizes.

At that time, 27 years after arriving in Germany and after touring almost the entire country, Hurtado settled in Berlin and began a series of contacts and collaborations with the club that ended up bringing him closer to its Board of Directors. Union was the second team in the city after Hertha. He competed in the Third Division and tried to make room while his great rival closed any option. In 2001 they met in the final of the German Cup, with victory for Hertha. It was a sidereal distance. In 2023, the Union is in the Champions League and its enemy in the Second Division.

The 2004 Assembly

"Our company advertised the club and supported the education of young people in the academy. And a key moment came in 2003. There was a tremendous controversy between the president, the coach and the press and I told them 'if the club is like that, our company doesn't want to know anything'. So we were offered a position on the board," he explains.

The first time he sat on the Board, everything changed. "I saw that there was no professionalism or order, not even information about the financial situation, it was chaos. And in April 2004, when the team was going very badly sportively and economically, it was in Third with possibilities of going down to Fourth, we held a Members Assembly, I gave a 20-minute speech on how to save the club in 10 months and I was appointed president of the Board. Together with the current president, Dirk Zingler, we gathered 5 or 6 people and developed the 'Iron Strategy', a couple of points to integrate the partners and save the Union. We talked to the city, to Bayern who came to play in our stadium, which looked like a block of cows... There began, being modest, the success that today makes the Union shine."

The Union ended up going down to Fourth, "a necessary storm", says Hurtado, and from there began its ascension to the Champions League that today steps for the first time. In 2010 he began the reform of his stadium with the help of his partners and when the last stand was finished, Antonio said "see you later". "I got my professorship in Dresden in 2007, he was director of the Energy Institute and at the same time chairman of the Union Board. I couldn't do both forever."

Eleven years after his departure, Hurtado maintains two seats in the box and the club's gold medal for "the Bible of the Union". "Which has brought us here. Control, not spending more than we have," he says. He left, but that Iron Strategy remains in the great revelation of the Bundesliga. "When I see managers we say, 'Pinch me to see if this is real.'"

  • Real Madrid