Spanish coach Gabriel “Gabi” Hernandez has been appointed as a new Pro Recco’s coach. Today, the Ligurian club announced that Hernandez would replace Ratko Rudic, who left the club a few days ago.
Hernandez was born in Barcelona in 1975. He played for the Spanish national team in the 90s’ and the 2000s’. His most significant achievements in the national team were the title of the world champion in Fukuoka 2001 (when he scored three goals in Spain’s 4:2 win over Yugoslavia in the final), the silver medal in the 2002 World League, 4th place at the 2000 Olympic Games…
He started the coaching career in 2011, as a head coach of Sabadell. Hernandez led Sabadell to the Spanish Cup and the Spanish Super Cup in 2012. He was Spain’s head coach at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where the Spaniards lost to Serbia (which won gold later) and finished in the 7th place. Recco’s new coach led Spain at the 2016 European Championships in Belgrade (5th place). Then, he worked as a consultant for the water polo sector in the Argentine federation for two years, before traveling the world to teach water polo through clinics, some of which were organized by FINA.
At a club level, Gabriel Hernandez Paz played for several Spanish clubs (Catalunya, Barcelona, Barceloneta, Real Canoe). He spent a few seasons in Italy, as a player of Pescara.
“It’s an inspiration to come to the club after Ratko Rudic. As a coach, I faced him at the 2016 Olympic Games, in the match for 7th place (Spain defeated Brazil 9:8). Pro Recco represents a challenge, but also a joy. This is a fantastic opportunity for a coach to lead this team – Hernandez said.
Asked about his plans and philosophy, Hernandez answered:
“A formation with huge ‘commitment’. Each player must feel important, so I think a more compact squad is better.
The long break in the water polo competitions, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, won’t be a problem, Hernandez said.
“No, I am not worried about how I will find them (players), physically. I am sure that they will be in good shape after the months of preparations with the national teams. The premise, however, is that water polo is a grueling sport: if you don’t train you can’t play. “, Hernandez said (source Pro Recco’s press release)
Hernandez is the fifth non-Italian on Pro Recco’s bench in the history of the club, the third in a row. The first foreign head coach in Pro Recco was Hungarian Imre Szikora (1980 – 1984). Serb Igor Milanovic led the team in the season 2014/15 when Pro Recco won its 8th title of the European champion. Milanovic was replaced by Italian Amadeo Pomillo (2015/16). Recco’s legend Vladimir Vujasinovic (Serbia) coached the team for two seasons (2016 – 2018). Croat Ratko Rudic came after Vujasiovic in 2018, but he didn’t accomplish his mission since the season is canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.