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SPANISH SOCCER

Vicente del Bosque steps down as coach of Spanish national soccer side

With a World Cup and European Championship to his credit, 65-year-old blows final whistle on management

José Sámano
Vicente Del Bosque.
Vicente Del Bosque.FRANCK FIFE (AFP)

After an eight-year spell establishing him as the most successful coach ever of Spain’s national soccer side, Vicente del Bosque has announced that he will retire on July 31 when his contract with the Spanish Football Federation (FEF) expires.

The 65-year-old, who coached Spain to a World Cup win in 2010 and then the European Championship in 2012, said on Thursday that his decision had nothing to do with Spain’s early exit from Euro 2016.

You should never forget you’re representing your country, so you need to keep your ego under lock and key Vicente del Bosque

“It didn’t matter how far we progressed in Euro 2016, I had made my mind up and had talked to the president [of the FEF], the decision was 100% taken,” Del Bosque said in an exclusive interview with EL PAÍS.

FEF president Ángel María Villar reportedly asked Del Bosque to stay on after Spain was knocked out of the group stages by Italy on June 27.

But Villar has known that Del Bosque was never going to stay on following Spain’s disappointing performance at the Brazil World Cup two years ago, followed by an equally lackluster display in France. Del Bosque says he intends to step down from all managerial activities.

After spending most of his playing career with Real Madrid, where he contributed to five La Liga titles and four King’s Cups, Del Bosque moved into coaching with Real Madrid’s youth clubs and then Real Madrid B from 1987-1990. He then coached Real Madrid temporarily in 1994 and 1996 before taking over full-time in 1999.

Del Bosque oversaw Real Madrid’s signing of the so-called ‘galácticos,’ superstars such as Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham

Over the next four years, Del Bosque led Real Madrid through one of the side’s most impressive periods, winning two UEFA Champions League titles in 2000 and 2002, two La Liga wins in 2001 and 2003, a Spanish Supercup in 2001, a UEFA Supercup in 2002, the Intercontinental Cup in 2002, and finishing in the last four of the UEFA Champions League every year he was in charge.

Del Bosque oversaw Real Madrid’s signing of the so-called galácticos, superstars such as Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Luis Fuigo and Ronaldo. Known for his politeness and a hands-off management style that players who have worked with him praise, Del Bosque has always appeared unflappable, despite the pressures on him. This ability been essential to working with Spain’s leading soccer players. “You should never forget you’re representing your country, so you need to keep your ego under lock and key,” he said in a 2014 EL PAÍS interview.

Despite delivering Real Madrid’s most successful spells in decades, Del Bosque’s contract was not renewed. In 2004 he managed Turkish side Besiktas, but left after a disappointing season.

Despite the rumors about his imminent departure during Euro 2016, Del Bosque says he avoiding discussing his future so as not to distract his players.

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“I even told them that we had new commitments in September, and I said ‘we’ because I will always be part of the team, obviously,” said Del Bosque.

The main task facing his successor, who has still to be named, will be to lead the national side through the classification stages ahead of the Russia World Cup, to be held in 2018. Spain’s group includes Italy, and only one of the six teams will go through.

Among the favorites to take over from Del Bosque is Joaquín Caparrós, a journeyman coach with a checkered career, having managed some 18 teams over the last 35 years.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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