Middlesbrough hires former Real Madrid defender Karanka as manager

Photo: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Aitor Karanka poses with a Middlesbrough jersey after being unveiled as the club's new manager on Wednesday.

MIDDLESBROUGH, England (AP) - Former Real Madrid defender Aitor Karanka has accepted his first senior job in football management by taking over as coach of second-tier English club Middlesbrough.

The former Spain international signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the northeast club, which employs former Sporting Kansas City forward Kei Kamara, on Wednesday.

Karanka, who had a brief foray into MLS with the Colorado Rapids in 2006, says Jose Mourinho persuaded him to take over at the Riverside, adding that the Chelsea manager ''believes in this project, like me.''

The 40-year-old worked under Mourinho for three years at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Middlesbrough, 16th in the Championship, last played in the Premier League in 2009.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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