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Gerard Pique channels 1989 Michigan NCAA tournament run amid Spain turmoil

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during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Spain and Italy at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 2, 2017 in Madrid, .

Claudio Villa

Gerard Pique wants his team - and fans - to know that the turmoil surrounding the leadership of the Spanish national team is bringing the squad together not tearing it apart.

Also, he knows there’s precedent for the situation they’re in.

Pique posted on Twitter that they’re channeling the 1989 Michigan Wolverines basketball team that won the NCAA Tournament under interim head coach Steve Fisher. Pique seems well versed in the American sports comeback story.

Pique’s tweet reads, “University of Michigan. Basketball. 1989. NCAA Champion. It wouldn’t be the first time it happened. All together, now more than ever.”

Just prior to the 1989 NCAA Tournament, Michigan basketball coach Bill Frieder announced he had accepted a position as the head coach of Arizona State - a position which he would take at the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament. Michigan athletic director Bo Schembechler was so angry at the announcement that he fired Frieder on the spot, and hired top assistant Fisher to take his place and coach the tournament. The Wolverines went on to win the entire thing, toppling 2-seed North Carolina, 1-seed Illinois, and 3-seed Seton Hall on the way, winning the title by a single point in overtime over the Pirates.

Upon the coaching change, Schembechler announced, “a Michigan man is going to coach a Michigan team,” spawning the popular phrase “Michigan man.” Spain’s interim coach Fernando Hierro is certainly a “Spanish man” himself, having appeared 89 times for the Spanish national team in his playing days, scoring 29 goals as a defender and appearing in four World Cups.

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