Alejandro Hurtado was known throughout his football career as a dynamic centre attacking midfielder. His passing and vision excelled where others’ failed, allowing him to spot a key pass that could unlock an opposition defence.
His decision-making was second-to-none and this appears to have carried over into his management career. He made 17 appearances for Chile, scoring 4 goals.
He is well known for being Deportes Puerto Montt’s record transfer at £5M after being bought by Spanish giants Sevilla. His footballing career was unfortunately cut short through injury just as he was entering his peak.
These events only spurred Alejandro on to enter coaching and become the manager that he is today.
We managed to interview the media-shy manager after his first five seasons in charge.
An Interview with Alejandro Hurtado
Alejandro, thank you for agreeing to meet with us for an interview. Can you tell us a bit more about your footballing career? What is it like being a Chilean success story and how did you adapt to European football?
I was very lucky to have had the career that I have. I remember my time at Deportes Puerto Montt with very fond memories. They bought me in and transformed me as a player.
I owe a lot to DPM. After Sevilla bought me I struggled to adapt to the new environment. They understood this and sent me on loan back to Chile to play for Universidad Catolica.
I loved my time at Olympiakos and although I didn’t perform as I would have hoped the experience in a completely different atmosphere helped to adapt better in Sevilla.
The injury that ended my career only spurred me on to enter management, and there was only one team who I would join if the opportunity came.
Management – Deportes Puerto Montt
How did you find the transition between playing and management?
I struggled. In all honesty this was the biggest challenge of my career so far. I joined my favourite club in Deportes Puerto Montt with them placed in the Primera B of Chile. However despite some encouraging players at the club I couldn’t find a winning formula.
DPM approached me in the summer of 2016 and I leapt at the opportunity to manage them. I then set about establishing a long-term plan for the future of the club.
However after we crashed out of the Chile Cup and then won just one of 14 games in the Opening Stage of the Primera B my job was under threat.
I was given one game by the board to either win or be sacked.
We drew 0-0 and I was sacked, just six months in to my tenure at the club. To say I was gutted would be an understatement.
What were your immediate thoughts following your sacking and did you want to get back into management?
I knew that I wanted to get back into management as soon as I could. But I did consider where it would be. I’d always thought that my management career would be at Puerto Montt so this early departure rocked me.
I applied for jobs in Colombia and Uruguay but in the end I couldn’t bring myself to leave Chile. I needed to put right what had gone wrong.
Management – Union San Felipe
What made you sign with Union San Felipe?
Union San Felipe intrigued me. And it’s fair to say that after my spell with Puerto Montt I wasn’t a wanted man!
USF were in trouble when they approached me. After a terrible Closing Stage in 2017 USF were looking for someone to turn their fortunes around in the shorter 2017 transition season.
I wanted to take them on and improve them.
Juan Jeraldino has been lauded for his performances under your management, transforming from an average Primera B striker into a deadly attacker topping the Primera top scorer charts.
Tell us about some of your best achievements and experiences in your four seasons at Union San Felipe.
Both Jeraldino brothers have been fantastic to work with. Each and every day they give their best at training and are an inspiration for the younger players.
Neither of the guys have improved significantly in my time at the club, but statistically they have to be one of the best partnerships in Chile, if not South America.
Juan has gone on to make 182 league appearances, scoring 90 goals. His brother Ignacio has made 169 appearances and has netted 60 goals.
My opening season with Union San Felipe went so much better than expected. We finished top and had a chance to earn promotion through the playoffs but lost in the final.
In my second season with the club we earned promotion to the Primera Division. This was a superb season for the club, with Juan Jeraldino pivotal to our attack, scoring 24 goals in 27 games.
Union San Felipe in the Primera Division and Continental Competitions!
You’ve gone and turned Union San Felipe from a club who were languishing in the Primera B to a club who have finished 5th and 3rd in the top tier of Chile. How satisfying is it to see the club progress in the way that Puerto Montt didn’t?
Let me say to begin with I’d never wish ill of a former employer, especially as I still value what Puerto Montt have done for me and my career. However the things that could have happened there with a bit more time have happened here instead.
I am so very impressed with our progression over the four seasons under my leadership. Qualifying for both continental competitions has clearly been a highlight and we are working towards mounting a challenge for a title.
We are looking forward to playing in the Copa Libertadores next season after a taster of continental competitions this year.
What’s next for Alejandro Hurtado? Will you be looking to build an empire at Union San Felipe?
The dream is to win the Primera Division with San Felipe. I’m an ambitious manager and have been thinking a lot about success. I want to be known as the man who has conquered South America!
I want to win the top competitions in as many South American nations as possible! And this starts with San Felipe.
Many thanks for your time Alejandro, we are looking forward to seeing how you progress over the next few years, whether that be here in Chile or somewhere afar!