Baraja as manager of Elche in 2016
|Full name||Rubén Baraja Vegas|
|Date of birth||11 July 1975|
|Place of birth||Valladolid, Spain|
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|1996–1999||Atlético Madrid B||79||(20)|
|2011||Atlético Madrid (assistant)|
|2013||Valencia B (interim)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
A complete central midfielder with good tackling and offensive qualities together with accurate passing and goalscoring ability, he played mostly for Valencia during a 17-year professional career, being an essential figure in five of the club's major titles, which included two La Liga championships.
Born in Valladolid, Castile and León, Baraja started his career at local Real Valladolid before moving to Atlético Madrid, where he would spend two-and-a-half seasons with the B-side, first appearing with the main squad on 7 February 1999 by playing the second half of a 1–2 defeat at UD Salamanca. In the 1998–99 campaign, with the B's in the second division, he scored a career-best 11 goals.
When Atlético was relegated at the end of 1999–2000, Baraja left the club in a 2,000 million pesetas transfer to that year's UEFA Champions League finalists Valencia CF, who were looking to strengthen their central midfield following the sale of first-team players Gerard and Javier Farinós. In his first season he was a key element in the Che's Champions League campaign, as they were beaten in the final for the second year running, this time losing in a penalty shootout to FC Bayern Munich, with the player scoring on his attempt.
The 2001–02 season would see Baraja's first trophy win, where his goals late in the campaign helped Valencia to their first La Liga title in 31 years – he finished as team top scorer in the league, netting seven in only seventeen league games. 2003–04 was another big year, winning both the domestic championship (with eight league goals from him) as well as the UEFA Cup, beating Olympique de Marseille 2–0 in the final.
In 2006–07, Baraja only appeared in 14 league contests as Valencia finished fourth, and continued to be constantly bothered by physical problems in the following years. After two respectable seasons, often partnering longtime central midfield partner David Albelda, he was again greatly troubled with physical problems in the 2009–10 season, appearing in only 18 matches (two complete); on 16 May 2010 he closed his chapter at the Mestalla Stadium after one full decade, receiving homages before and after the 1–0 home win against CD Tenerife and being replaced to a standing ovation in the 89th minute. Shortly after the 35-year-old announced his retirement, having appeared in 338 first division games over the course of 15 seasons and scoring 47 goals.
In June 2011, Baraja returned to former team Atlético Madrid as part of newly appointed manager Gregorio Manzano's coaching staff. In the 2013 summer he returned to main club Valencia, first coaching the youths then the reserves.
On 8 November 2016, Baraja took the reins at fellow league team Rayo Vallecano. After only three wins from 13 games, he was sacked on 20 February 2017 as they sat a point above the relegation places.
Baraja made his debut for the Spain national team on 7 October 2000, in the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification 2–0 win over Israel. Consequently, he was picked for the final stages, where the team reached the quarter-finals before being sent out by South Korea on penalties, though the player, as the year before with Valencia, once again scored on his attempt.
Baraja also took part in the disappointing UEFA Euro 2004 tournament, where Spain was eliminated in the group stage by eventual finalists Portugal and Greece. He was left out of the 2006 World Cup squad, as his club presence was also diminished due to recurrent injuries.
|1.||11 October 2000||Ernst Happel, Vienna, Austria||Austria||1–1||1–1||2002 World Cup qualification|
|2.||25 April 2001||Nuevo Arcángel, Córdoba, Spain||Japan||1–0||1–0||Friendly|
|3.||17 April 2002||Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland||Northern Ireland||0–2||0–5||Friendly|
|4.||12 October 2002||Carlos Belmonte, Albacete, Spain||Northern Ireland||1–0||3–0||Euro 2004 qualifying|
|6.||18 February 2004||Lluís Companys, Barcelona, Spain||Peru||2–1||2–1||Friendly|
|7.||5 June 2004||Alfonso Pérez, Getafe, Spain||Andorra||2–0||4–0||Friendly|
- As of 19 February 2017
|Valencia B (interim)||15 December 2013||22 December 2013||1||1||0||0||2||1||+1||100.00|
|Elche||12 July 2015||6 June 2016||43||13||19||11||43||49||−6||30.23|
|Rayo Vallecano||8 November 2016||20 February 2017||13||3||4||6||12||14||−2||23.08|
- Players to watch – Rubén Baraja; BBC Sport, 25 May 2004
- Valencia break club transfer record; The Namibian, 2 August 2000
- "Bayern crowned European champions". BBC Sport. 23 May 2001. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
- "Valencia 2–0 Marseille". BBC Sport. 19 May 2004. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
- "Baraja recibe un emotivo adiós de Mestalla" [Baraja gets emotional farewell from Mestalla] (in Spanish). Diario AS. 16 May 2010. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
- Vizcaíno y Baraja, ayudantes de Gregorio Manzano (Vizcaíno and Baraja, Gregorio Manzano's assistants); Marca, 9 June 2011 (in Spanish)
- Rubén Baraja, nuevo entrenador del Elche C.F. (Rubén Baraja. new manager of Elche C.F.); Elche CF, 12 July 2015 (in Spanish)
- Rubén Baraja no continuará como entrenador del Elche C.F. (Rubén Baraja will not remain as Elche C.F. manager); Elche CF, 6 June 2016 (in Spanish)
- "Baraja, nuevo entrenador del Rayo Vallecano" [Baraja, new manager of Rayo Vallecano] (in Spanish). Marca. 6 November 2016. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
- "Rayo Vallecano sack Ruben Baraja as head coach". Diario AS. 20 February 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
- "España gana con sosería" [Spain wins dully] (in Spanish). El País. 8 October 2000. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
- "Spain rage at referee". The Guardian. 23 June 2002. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
- "Sáez selects Spain squad". UEFA.com. 20 May 2004. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
- "Greece profit as Charisteas stops Spain surge". UEFA.com. 17 June 2004. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
- "Portugal leave Spain in shade to light up Lisbon". UEFA.com. 20 June 2004. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
- Aragonés finds no place for Baraja; UEFA.com, 15 May 2006
- Baraja muscled out for Valencia; UEFA.com, 21 August 2006
- Valencia get bad news on Baraja; UEFA.com, 8 March 2007
- Baraja blow deepens Valencia woe; UEFA.com, 25 January 2008
- "Rubén Baraja, dispuesto a escuchar al Valladolid" [Rubén Baraja, willing to listen to Valladolid] (in Spanish). Diario AS. 1 June 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
- "Baraja: Rubén Baraja Vegas". BDFutbol. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
- "Baraja: Rubén Baraja Vegas". BDFutbol. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
- "Baraja: Rubén Baraja Vegas". BDFutbol. Retrieved 16 November 2016.