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REAL MADRID: Messina takes over as head coach
June 18, 2009
Two of the most successful names in basketball history have joined forces with the official word on Thursday that legendary head coach Ettore Messina will take over the bench at Real Madrid, the winningest team in European club competition history. Messina, 49, has signed a three-year deal with Real Madrid. Messina replaces Joan Plaza, who coached Real Madrid in each of the last three seasons, leading the team to both the Spanish League and the ULEB Cup titles in 2007. Messina arrives from CSKA Moscow, where he cemented his status as one of the all-time great coaches over the past four years, winning the Euroleague twice and finishing second two other times. All told, Messina has four Euroleague titles, split between CSKA and Kinder Bologna, tying him for second with three other head coaches for the most in European history. Just as remarkable, Messina has reached Euroleague finals in seven of the last 11 seasons with three different clubs - and has never been stopped in the semifinals. Messina, a two-time Aleksander Gomelskiy Euroleague Coach of the Year Trophy winner, also led CSKA to four Russian League titles and lifted the Russian Cup trophy twice to round a near-perfect stay in Moscow. Messina had previously won his two other Euroleague titles with Kinder Bologna in 1998 and 2001, as well as reaching title games three other times - with Kinder in 1999 and 2002, and with Benetton Treviso in 2003. Messina has also won four Italian League and seven Italian Cup titles during his career, lifted the 1990 Saporta Cup with Virtus and won a silver medal at EuroBasket 1997 with the Italian national team. Real Madrid has the most Euroleague titles in history, eight, but has taken only one such trophy since 1980, during which time CSKA has reached six, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Panathinaikos five each, tied with Pallacanestro Varese.
"I lack the words to express my pride and happiness," Messina said when presented on Friday at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium by club president Florentino Perez. "I want to say thanks for the confidence and hope that the club has in the basketball team and I hope that, with the work of everyone, we can give back everything that the fans want to receive. I don't want to promise anything, but we are going to make all the effort possible to do well."
"I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s watching Real Madrid playing finals," Messina added. "I hope that in the end they can say that I have been a coach and a person in the Real Madrid standard."
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