Profiles - Núñez

Squad Number 2013/14: 7
Date of Birth: January 15, 1979
Birthplace:  Madrid (Spain)
Nationality: Spanish
Contract: 2013
Transfer: Free agent
Career: Deportivo (2013-now), SD Huesca (2012-2013), Apollon Limassol (2009-2012), Real Murcia (2008-2009), Celta (2005-2008), Liverpool (2004-2005), Real Madrid (2003-2004), Real Madrid Castilla (2001-2003) 
Buyout Clause: ?
Height: 185 cm
Weight:  74 Kg
Position: Midfielder (centre/right)

  Winger/Playmaker ANTONIO NUÑEZ was signed after the summer market 2013 closed its doors and it was a response to the lack of depth at Deportivo’s first team. Coach Fernando Vázquez knows him from their stage at RC Celta and was hired in order give alternatives during the games. There are many doubts on the possible performance of this veteran player, mainly as he had a couple of incidents in the past playing against Deportivo, but the Madrilenian player is trying to prove that he still has to offer some old tricks for a club that aspires to promotion.

This right winger has had a long career in the world of football and has played at the highest levels, but it doesn’t mean he has been successful, because he touched the sky with Liverpool FC and played for Real Madrid, but never got a starting role there and left both clubs by the back door. Later he had a more participative role at RC Celta and SD Huesca, but didn’t bring results in a collective sense. Perhaps his more solid stage was at Cypriot club Apollon Limassol, over there he won a Cup tournament (2009/10).

Núñez began to play football performing for a couple of Madrilenian small clubs, and from there he landed at the academy of Real Madrid in 2001. In two years at Real Madrid Castilla he made 64 appearances at Segunda B netting 12 goals. He was always considered as a talented right winger with the capacity of dribbling the rivals and skills to control the ball. His debut with the first team of Real Madrid was explosive, former coach Carlos Queiroz picked him for the visit to Villarreal CF (Sept 2, 1993) and replaced Javier Portillo at minute 77, just eight minutes later he scored the equalizer that left the scoresheet in a 1-1 draw. He was 23 at the time.

Few players can presume that they scored a goal in their official debut with Real Madrid, but Núñez was going to be a new victim of the lack of confidence had by Los Blancos in their own canteranos. In the rest of the season 2003/04 he just made 10 more appearances at Primera only adding 169 minutes in the competition. So, at the end of the campaign the winger left the club by the back door as he was included in the deal that took Michael Owen to Real Madrid. He joined defender Josemi in the squad that Spanish coach Rafael Benítez was preparing at Liverpool FC ahead of the season 2004/05.

That was a happy year for The Reds as they conquered the UEFA Champions League in that remarkable final against AC Milan, but Núñez suffered a knee injury in his first day of training for his new club, and was out of action for three months. For this reason he lacked pace and only made 18 appearances at the Premier League. There were two curios stories with him during this stage. First to all he scored a goal in the League Cup final against Chelsea FC (2-3), it was his only official goal with the club and therefore became the only player in the club's history to score his only goal for the team in a major cup final. The other history was that he took part of the final against AC Milan, he received the medal, but the point is that he didn’t play the game and only made 5 appearances in the biggest tournament on the continent (only once as a starter).

The Reads weren’t impressed with him and the player was sent back to Spain, this time he landed at RC Celta, club where he finally got the starting role that he missed in his previous stages at Real Madrid and Liverpool FC. But there was a price to pay as the instability at the Galician club forced him to suffer the relegation. It was during this stage that Núñez met Fernando Vázquez, who coached him in his first two seasons in Vigo. The campaign 2005/06 was a good year for RC Celta, they ended sixth, above Deportivo, and qualified for the UEFA Cup. The winger played in 32 of the 38 league matchdays (2,203 minutes) and scored two goals. But his season is more remembered by Depor’s fans for a big incident at the Riazor, reason why he was finned. On April 29, 2006, the winger was a substitute and never entered the pitch for the derby played at the Riazor (0-2 win for RC Celta), but during half-time he and the other substitutes were practicing on the lawn, part of the public were insulting them and he got furious and subsequently threw a ball to the stands, unluckily for him the ball hit the face of a woman, who was taken to the hospital. The lady suffered a spinal sprain and needed treatment for 121 days. The assurance company that managed the case sued the player and in 2010 he was ordered to pay €9,565.03 by a judge.

He spent two more seasons at RC Celta and things changed for worse. For the season 2006/07 he lost the stating role at the team before new signing Nené. In the end he only made 24 appearances in la liga (989 minutes). To make things worse the team suffered the relegation to Segunda. One year later he regained a starting role at Segunda División and ended playing in 40 of the 42 league matchdays plus scoring five goals, but the performance of the team was horrible and just escaped relegation by two points. At the end of the season he was released and joined another Segunda outfit, Real Murcia, club where he played 35 matches during the Segunda campaign 2008/09 (2,533 minutes). Neither was impressive and he left the country in order to join Cypriot club Apollon Limassol. That was going to be the best experience on his career, after a slow start there he became a regular starter, at the time his team won the Cup tournament and played the UEFA Europa League, in this competition he netted his only goal in European competitions facing Russian club FK Sibir Novosibirsk (Aug 8, 2010), though his team was eliminated in the third qualifying round by the away goal rule.

At the middle of the season 2011/12 he returned to Spain and signed a half-year deal with Segunda side SD Huesca. He made a solid job there and helped the Aragonian club to clinch the permanence after making 16 appearances plus scoring four goals (1,184 minutes). It was here where he lived his second incident at the Riazor. It was matchday 41 and Depor were ready to celebrate the promotion to Primera (May 27, 2012). SD Huesca were already saved and had nothing to gain at the Riazor and they clinched the advantage thanks to a goal scored by Núñez at the middle of the first half. The player celebrated in a big way, many fans still remembering it despite Deportivo clinched the comeback in the scoresheet and subsequently the ticket back to Primera División. SD Huesca were so happy with him that the player signed a renewal for one more year. He played in 39 of the 42 Segunda matchdays of the Segunda season 2012/13, now in many opportunities performing as a playmaker. He left a positive impression, but it wasn’t enough to clinch the permanence. Without wanting to play at Segunda B, he was released and began to train with Segunda B club CF Fuenlabrada, it was then when he received the call of Fernando Vázquez, his former coach at RC Celta. Depor were back at Segunda and needed choices as the first team was only composed by 17 players. Portuguese Bruno Gama had left the club and Fabril’s Álvaro Lemos had suffered a serious knee injury, so the Galician coach needed experience for the right flank.

Núñez signed as a free agent on September 12, something that’s possible as the LFP accepts the signing of any player that’s a free agent. It’s a special contract lasting until December 31 of 2013; a deal that can be extended until June 30, 2014 if the clubs decides to do it. During the presentation, president Lendoiro welcomed him, ”We want to thank the player, because he never obstructed the signing, this despite the special conditions. Neither him nor his agency, Bahía. Meanwhile, Núñez commented that, “I was hoping for a chance as I was training in Madrid with Fuenlabrada. The deadline was over and it was a situation where I was trying to be on shape waiting for a chance like this one. It was better than I thought. Borja and Juan Carlos talked great things of the club. I arrive willing to help and to leave my skin on it.” About Fernando Vázquez he commented that, “I had a pretty relationship with him. I keep good memories and I believe it’s the same with him. For me he’s one of the coaches with whom I enjoyed the most.”