Football: Ex-Real assistant coach Karanka thanks Mourinho as he takes up reins at Boro

LONDON (AFP) - English second-tier football club Middlesbrough pulled off a managerial coup on Wednesday when they confirmed the appointment of former Real Madrid assistant Aitor Karanka as their new head coach.

The 40-year-old Spaniard, who worked under Jose Mourinho at Madrid from 2010 to 2013, succeeds Tony Mowbray, who was sacked last month following a poor run of results.

"It is a very important day for me," Karanka told journalists at a press conference.

"This is my first job and it is the best thing that I can do because I have found a club like a family with big facilities, with a big stadium, with big supporters.

"It is my time. I have been, for three years, with Jose Mourinho and I think he supported me every day. I learned with him and his staff and I'm ready."

Karanka also revealed that Mourinho, now the manager of Chelsea, had encouraged him to take up the post at the Riverside Stadium.

"You can learn everything (from Mourinho) on the pitch and off the pitch and the changing room. He's the one," Karanka said.

"He's the person who's supported me for months. He recommended me to come here because he believes in this project, like me."

Boro chief executive Neil Bausor said: "We are delighted that Aitor has decided to further his coaching career with Middlesbrough as our head coach.

"He brings with him some fantastic experience as a player and as a talented young coach. We are all excited about working with him."

Middlesbrough are languishing in 16th place in the Championship table, eight points adrift of the play-off positions and five points above the bottom three. The north-east club last played in the Premier League in the 2008-09 season.

Since Mowbray's departure, his assistant Mark Venus had been acting as caretaker coach for the former Uefa Cup finalists.