Photo: Luis Aragones
Spanish former national soccer team coach Luis Aragones, who led his squad to victory at Euro 2008, died early Saturday in this capital, the Cemtro Clinic said. He was 75.
Traumatologist Pedro Guillen told Cadena Cope radio that Aragones died of leukemia, saying his condition had steadily worsened over the past few months.
“Luis Aragones died this morning. The whole Atletico family is in mourning and we send (our condolences) to his family,” Spanish-league team Atletico Madrid, where he spent the majority of his career as a coach and player, said on Twitter.
Aragones, nicknamed “Sabio de Hortaleza” (Wise Man from Hortaleza), a Madrid district, coached Atletico Madrid to a La Liga title in the 1976-1977 season and three Copa del Rey titles.
But he is best known for guiding Spain to its second Euro title in 2008 and for introducing the “tiki-taka” style that emphasizes short passes and ball possession.
La Roja, led by small by highly skillful midfield players such as Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, used that same style to win the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 under Aragones’ successor, Vicente del Bosque.
Aragones was a member of Atletico Madrid for the bulk of his playing career, scoring 172 goals between 1964 and 1974 and helping lead the club to three La Liga titles.
Besides coaching Atletico Madrid on four different occasions, he also was the manager of La Liga clubs Betis, Barcelona, Espanyol, Sevilla, Valencia, Oviedo and Mallorca and Turkish team Fenerbahçe.
Tributes to Aragones poured in after his death was announced.
“I owe a great deal to him personally. He had a big influence on me from the time I was 26,” Spanish goalkeeping great Iker Casillas said.
“I want to send my condolences to his family and for them to know that Luis will always have a special place in the history of our soccer. It’s a sad day for Spanish soccer.”
Del Bosque also hailed his predecessor’s contributions.
“Without a doubt, he paved the way in this latest highly successful stage (for Spain’s national team). He had a long career as a coach and I personally had a special appreciation for him.”