Following elimination from the 2014 World Cup after today’s 2-0 loss to Chile, Spain’s domination of world football has come to a definitive end and so to has the illustrious career of La Furia Roja manager Vicente del Bosque.
Losing his side’s first two matches by an aggregate of 7-1 is an unbefitting way of bowing out of coaching for the quiet, calm, calculating and sometimes misunderstood del Bosque.
Our friends over at Soccerly have put together a brilliant testament to the man:
Del Bosque could lay claim to being the most decorated active coach in world football having won virtually every major honor at club and international level. After leading Real Madrid to two Champions League and two La Liga titles in three-and-a-half years in charge of Los Blancos, the call came to succeed Luis Aragones as Spain boss following their victory at the European Championships in 2008.
Taking over a side that had won its first major tournament in 44 years appeared a difficult act to follow, but Del Bosque’s calm demeanor and conservative tactics allowed Spain’s ludicrously talented generation to flourish. Two years after his appointment, Del Bosque led Spain to their first World Cup triumph in South Africa and followed that success by defending their European title in Poland and Ukraine in 2012.
Del Bosque arrived in Brazil hoping to join Italian Vittorio Pozzo as the only man to win the World Cup twice as a coach and become the first man to lead his side to three successive major tournament victories. It wasn’t to be. As someone who has never clambered to the top of the tallest tower to sing his own praises, he has at times perhaps been denied the accolades he deserves.
Many have contended that he was lucky to have coached the Real ‘galacticos’ followed by Spain’s golden generation. But in Madrid he expertly managed a dressing room full of bloated egos while with La Roja he has united the warring factions of Real and Barcelona. After a fierce spell of four El Clasicos in 18 days in 2012 that left scars on both sides of the divide, Del Bosque said he “feared” for the future of the national team.
Yet, guided by two of his most loyal lieutenants in Real captain Iker Casillas and Barca’s most decorated player of all-time, Xavi Hernandez, the splits were mended and a year later Spain were European champions once more. “He has taught me how to live with victory,” says Casillas.”He has maintained the same calm in tough moments and on days of glory parading a trophy. He has helped us as footballers and as fans. Respect and normality is what defines him day-to-day.”
There’s little doubt that del Bosque will be criticized for his side’s performance at the 2014 World Cup, in particular his decision to stick with the old guard of Iker Casillas and Xabi Alonso after performances that would have triggered most managers to make a change to the Starting XI. On the other hand, this fierce loyalty was arguably what made Spain so cohesive and so dangerous for so many years.
Either way, a legend has left the game.