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Del Bosque: the most self-effacing of the greats


Del Bosque is leaving, but his example will remain - as a player, as a champion of youth football, as a club coach and as national team coach. He spent his formative years under the protective eye of Luis Molowny, and shares the same humility which the former player and coach was noted for. He was respectful will everyone, and always favoured conviction over prestige. His coaching career was far from lengthy, because after hanging up his boots, he dedicated a great part on his time in maintaining Real Madrid’s youth academy which, by the way, has never been the same since he left. Even though his coaching career was relatively brief, he won a lot of major trophies both with Madrid and the national team. His methods perhaps were not everyone’s cup of tea, but they worked, there’s no doubt about that.

He didn’t have it easy with Spain. He inherited a great side which he knew how to preserve in spite of the misgivings of a few. At Florentino’s Madrid, where so many managers have been shown the door, they searched for any old excuse to sack him. Atlético fans meanwhile saw him as a madridista who selected too few of their players for the national team and they too looked for ways to find fault. Ironically, it was at Barcelona where he was criticized the least; because he had no qualms about showing his estimation for their players, and including a large percentage of them in his teams. He handled the upheaval sparked by Mourinho with sensitivity and discretion, showing support for Casillas, Xavi and Puyol.

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Talking of Casillas, it’s also admirable the way in which his successor has been installed into the side, with no fuss or problems. Del Bosque is a man of peace, who endorses harmony and views football as something uplifting – not a world of conflict and dilemmas. It’s worthwhile recalling his acceptance speech on receiving the coaches’ Ballon d’ Or, which was a personal eulogy to football. It’s also worth remembering his words after Spain lifted the World Cup in South Africa, in which he dedicated the triumph to the Spanish football family, to all of the players and coaches in each and every category who spend their lives battling to realize their dreams. And lastly, it’s also worthwhile remembering the permanent example he set for the rest of us.