A versatile player, with good technique, he was capable of playing in several different positions, but usually played as a midfielder or as a forward, and was also noted for his temperament and stamina. Starting in 1991 and ending in 2004, he represented both Real Madrid and Barcelona with equal individual and team success, appearing in more than 500 official games and scoring more than 100 goals. He appeared with the Spain national team in three World Cups and one European Championship.
Luis Enrique started working as a manager in 2008 with Barcelona B and, three years later, moved to Roma. In the 2013–14 season he managed Celta, before returning to Barcelona and winning the treble in his first year and the double in his second.
Luis Enrique was born in Gijón, Asturias, and began his career with local Sporting de Gijón, where he gained the nickname Lucho after Luis Flores, a Mexican forward in the team. He then spent most of his playing days with the two biggest Spanish clubs: first Real Madrid for five seasons and, in 1996, after seeing out his contract, he moved to fierce rivals FC Barcelona on a free transfer. The Catalans' supporters were at first hesitant about their new acquisition, but he soon won the culers' hearts, staying eight years with the club, eventually becoming team captain and scoring several times in El Clásico against his former employers; while with Real Madrid, he notably scored in a 5–0 home win against Barcelona, but stated later he "rarely felt appreciated by the Real Madrid supporters and didn't have good memories there".
In his first three seasons with Barcelona Luis Enrique netted 46 La Liga goals, with Barça finishing runner-up in 1996–97 and subsequently winning back-to-back domestic championship accolades. Furthermore, he was named Spanish Player of the Year by El País in the following campaign. He also scored the opening goal in the 1997 UEFA Super Cup, a 3–1 aggregate triumph against Borussia Dortmund.
During his final years in Barcelona, Luis Enrique was often injured, and did not want to renew his contract. He had been offered a deal by his first club Sporting, which he, however, declined, stating that "he wouldn't be able to reach the level he demanded of myself" and that "he wouldn't be doing Sporting much of a favour by going there." His concerns about his level and fitness made him retire on 10 August 2004 at the age of 34, and he finished his professional career with league totals of 400 games and 102 goals, being named by Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers in March.
Luis Enrique played for Spain in three FIFA World Cups: 1994, 1998 and 2002 (as well as UEFA Euro 1996), and scored 12 goals while gaining 62 caps. He was also a member of the gold-winning squad at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, and made his debut for the main side on 17 April 1991, featuring for 22 minutes in a 0–2 friendly loss to Romania in Cáceres.
In the 1994 World Cup, held in the United States, Luis Enrique scored his first international goal, in the round-of-16 3–0 win over Switzerland in Washington, D.C. In the 1–2 quarter-final defeat against Italy at Foxboro Stadium, Mauro Tassotti's elbow made contact with his face to bloody effect, the action being of such impact that he reportedly lost a pint of blood as a result, but during the match the incident went unpunished – Tassotti was banned for eight games afterwards, and never played internationally again; when Spain met Italy at Euro 2008 on 22 June, to battle for a place in the semi-finals, Luis Enrique reportedly called for the team to "take revenge" on Italy for the 1994 World Cup incident. Tassotti, an assistant coach with A.C. Milan at the time, told the newspaper Marca that he was tired of always being reminded of this incident, and that he had never intended to hurt the Spaniard.
At the 1998 World Cup, Luis Enrique played a major role in a 6–1 routing of Bulgaria in the last game of the group, scoring and assisting once and also winning a penalty, but the Spaniards were eliminated nonetheless. On 5 June of the following year he netted a hat-trick, in a 9–0 win in Villarreal over San Marino for the Euro 2000 qualifiers.
On 23 June 2002, Luis Enrique retired from international football, in order to give the younger players more playing time and focus only on his club.
Having occupied several different positions, Luis Enrique was most noted for his exceptional versatility and consistency. He was capable of playing anywhere in midfield or along the front line, and was fielded in all positions on the pitch throughout his career, except those of central defender and goalkeeper. A strong, courageous, energetic and hard-working team player, with good technical skills, flair and notable stamina, his usual position was as an attacking midfielder in the centre of the pitch, due to his ability to link-up the forwards and the midfield, or as a right winger, but he was capable of playing anywhere along the right flank, and was often deployed as an attacking full-back or wing-back, or even as a left winger on occasion.
Due to his keen eye for goal and ability to make attacking runs into the box, Luis Enrique frequently played as a forward, either in a withdrawn role as a second striker behind the team's main goalscorer, or even as an out-and-out striker or centre forward – he was also used in deeper midfield roles. In addition to his playing abilities, he also stood out for his commitment, temperament, determination and leadership.
On 26 May 2008, Luis Enrique returned to Barcelona, taking over the reins of the B-team, renamed Barcelona Atlètic for that season. As he succeeded long-time Barcelona teammate Pep Guardiola, he stated: "I have come home", and "I finished playing here and now I will start coaching here."; in his second season he found success, helping the club return to Segunda División after an absence of 11 years.
In mid-March 2011, Luis Enrique announced he would leave Barcelona B at the end of the campaign, despite still having two years left on his contract. He led the side to the playoffs, but they were ineligible for promotion.
On 8 June 2011, Luis Enrique reached an agreement with Italian Serie A club A.S. Roma to become the Giallorossi's new head coach. He signed a two-year contract, being joined by a staff of four members, including Iván de la Peña who played two years for crosstown rivals S.S. Lazio, as technical collaborator.
Roma was eliminated from the UEFA Europa League by ŠK Slovan Bratislava, amid great discussion of the substitution of legendary Francesco Totti for Stefano Okaka Chuka. The capital club also lost their first game in the domestic league against Cagliari Calcio, making it just the third time that it lost the opener in 18 years.
Even though he still had two years remaining on his contract, Luis Enrique decided to leave Roma at the end of the season, after the club failed to qualify for any European competition.
On 8 June 2013, Luis Enrique became Celta de Vigo's new manager, replacing former national teammate Abel Resino. He led the Galicians to the ninth position in his first and only season, highlights including a 2–0 home win against Real Madrid that ended the opposition's possibilities of winning the league title.
On 16 May 2014, Luis Enrique announced that he would be leaving Celta.
On 19 May 2014, it was announced that Luis Enrique would return to Barcelona as a manager, after he agreed to a three-year deal. He was recommended by sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, his former national teammate. His first competitive match was a 3–0 home league win over Elche CF, where he handed debuts to new signings Claudio Bravo, Jérémy Mathieu and Ivan Rakitić, and gave youth products Munir El Haddadi, Rafinha and Sandro Ramírez their maiden league appearances for the club, whilst summer signing Luis Suárez was unavailable for selection due to suspension.
Luis Enrique suffered his first defeat in the competition on 25 October 2014, away against Real Madrid, and although Barcelona had a successful run in the year, his management came under scrutiny because of his tactics involving several lineup changes in consecutive games. Moreover, a quarrel with Lionel Messi and other members of the team further accentuated the team's poor form.
After an away loss to Real Sociedad, there was a significant upturn in Barcelona's form as a result of Luis Enrique deciding on a settled lineup. He equaled Guardiola's record of 11 consecutive victories, while the team went on to beat Atlético Madrid and Villarreal CF convincingly in the Copa del Rey to advance to the final. In the domestic league, after eight wins in nine matches, the team returned to the top of the table after 15 weeks.
On 21 April 2015, Luis Enrique recorded his 42nd win after 50 games in charge of Barcelona with a 2–0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain FC, the best record of any manager. He went on to lead the side to the final of the UEFA Champions League and, on 17 May, led it to its 23rd national championship with one match to spare following a 1–0 win at the Vicente Calderón Stadium against Atlético Madrid. On 6 June, having earlier won the domestic cup against Athletic Bilbao by the same score, Barcelona sealed a treble with a 3–1 win over Juventus F.C. in the Champions League Final in Berlin, and three days later he signed a new contract until 2017.
On 11 August 2015, Barcelona won the UEFA Super Cup after a 5–4 win against Sevilla FC. On 2 December, against CF Villanovense for the Spanish Cup's fourth round, Luis Enrique decided against bringing in a new player following Mathieu's injury with 12 minutes to go even though two replacements could still be made, as the score was at 6–1 at that time and the manager claimed he did not want to risk further setbacks.
In his first two seasons, Luis Enrique rotated his goalkeepers, with Bravo playing league games and Marc-André ter Stegen playing cup and European matches. Both players, however, expressed opposition to this policy. A second double was achieved on 22 May 2016, following a 2–0 Spanish Cup win over Sevilla FC after extra time in which the team played more than 50 minutes with one player less, following the dismissal of Javier Mascherano.
On 1 March 2017, Luis Enrique announced that he would not continue as team manager after 30 June on expiration of his contract.
Luis Enrique was sponsored by sportswear company Nike, and appeared in commercials for the brand. In a global advertising campaign in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, he starred in a "Secret Tournament" commercial (branded "Scopion KO") directed by Terry Gilliam, appearing alongside footballers such as Luís Figo, Thierry Henry, Hidetoshi Nakata, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Totti, with former player Eric Cantona the tournament "referee".
After retiring from football, Luis Enrique lived for a while in Australia to practice surfing. He took part in the 2005 edition of the New York City Marathon, finished the Amsterdam Marathon in 2006, the Firenze Marathon in 2007 and the Marathon des Sables in 2008, while also entering and finishing Frankfurt Ironman in 2007. He was supposed to take part in the Klagenfurt Ironman competition in July 2008, but eventually declined due to his engagement as manager of Barcelona B.
Scores and results list Spain's goal tally firstAs of match played 27 May 2017
La Liga: 1994–95
Copa del Rey: 1992–93
Supercopa de España: 1993
La Liga: 1997–98, 1998–99
Copa del Rey: 1996–97, 1997–98
Supercopa de España: 1996
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1996–97
UEFA Super Cup: 1997
Summer Olympic Games: 1992
La Liga: 2014–15, 2015–16
Copa del Rey: 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17
Supercopa de España: 2016
UEFA Champions League: 2014–15
UEFA Super Cup: 2015
FIFA Club World Cup: 2015
La Liga Breakthrough Player: 1990–91
ESM Team of the Year: 1996–97
La Liga Coach of the Year: 2015
FIFA World Coach of the Year: 2015
IFFHS World's Best Club Coach: 2015
World Soccer Manager of the Year: 2015
European Coach of the Year – Alf Ramsey Award: 2015
European Coach of the Season: 2014–15
La Liga Manager of the Month: May 2016