José Manuel Llaneza
José Manuel Llaneza

José Manuel Llaneza, the soul of Villarreal CF

José Manuel Llaneza (Puçol, 20th July 1948) is one of the great architects of the brilliant history of Villarreal CF. He served as general manager, CEO and vice-president during his 28 years linked to the club.

In May 1994, he landed in Vila-real thanks to Pascual Font de Mora, former president of the club. He arrived as general manager and took charge of a humble club which, at the time, was in a good sporting moment and was playing in the second division.

With Llaneza at the helm, the club was professionalised and stabilised at a key moment, when the club had just become a Sports Limited Company (Sociedad Anónima Deportiva, SAD). Three years after his arrival, in 1997, when Font de Mora was ill, the then general manager convinced Fernando Roig to take over the club.

Thanks to the excellent work of José Manuel Llaneza, a new project was born which, with the crucial arrival of Roig, aspired to what at the time seemed impossible: promotion to the first division. Just as Font de Mora had done, Roig placed all his trust in Llaneza to continue at the helm of Villarreal CF.

Under the leadership of the Llaneza, Villarreal were promoted to the first division and consolidated their position as a benchmark club in Spain and Europe. In 2010, after more than 15 years at the helm, he was appointed vice-president of the club, a position he held until his death in 2022.

With Llaneza on the board of directors, Villarreal CF achieved international recognition on the back of sporting success. The UEFA Europa League title in Poland (2021) was the finishing touch to the club’s excellent track record and the culmination of the fantastic project of the Roig family and José Manuel Llaneza. Other great achievements include two UEFA Champions League semi-finals (2006 and 2022) and a runners-up finish in LaLiga (2008).

José Manuel Llaneza’s contribution to Villarreal CF goes far beyond sporting matters. Under the guidance of Fernando Roig, he promoted important improvements to the old El Madrigal, now known as the Estadio de la Cerámica, to turn it into one of the most modern and cutting-edge stadiums in European football.

He also led the project to build the Training Ground, which, as a tribute, now bears his name. A high-performance centre for the first team, which also promotes the development of the youth teams, which he made the cornerstone of the club’s ambitious project.

With his impeccable work and faithful dedication throughout his immaculate career at Villarreal, José Manuel Llaneza earned the respect, esteem and admiration of the football world. His great work was recognised on countless occasions. He received the Gold Insignia from Villarreal CF in 2016, the Gold Medal of the Valencian Football Federation (Federació de Fútbol de la Comunitat Valenciana) in 2020 and the Gold Medal of the city of Vila-real in 2022.