Manolo Preciado: Football coach much loved in Spain

 

The death of Manuel "Manolo" Preciado, one of the most popular and colourful characters in Spanish football, has cast a pall of sorrow over the national side's participation in the European Championships.

His sunny personality and willingness to express a salty opinion earned him an affection which transcended the often tribal divisions which mark the sport in the country. News of his passing came the day after he had agreed to take over as coach of the second division side Villarreal, and it united Spain's football family in grief.

As a player, Preciado was a reliable defender who never quite reached the stellar heights of the Spanish game in 15 years as a professional. He began his league career with Racing Santander, and made more than 100 appearances for the club in the late 1970s and early 1980s. After leaving Santander in 1982 he played for a succession of lower league clubs including Linares, Mallorca and Alaves.

He was always destined to make a bigger impact as a coach, where his astute knowledge of the game and his skills as a communicator and a motivator proved invaluable. As a manager he made a speciality of fighting fires at troubled clubs and earning unlikely promotions for unfancied sides against the odds. After serving a lengthy apprenticeship as a coach at Racing Santander, Levante and Murcia, Preciado landed the role which really made his reputation in 2006.

He took over as coach of Sporting Gijon, a modest second division club who had enjoyed little success in their 101-year history, and in only his second season he took them into Spain'stop flight. It was a stage made for Preciado's outgoing style, and his charisma and highly quotable public pronouncements made him a huge public favourite. His leadership helped Gijon grab a slice of the attention usually monopolised by Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Preciado was not afraid to engage in verbal sparring bouts with more illustrious coaches from the bigger clubs. More than that, he thrived on it, and his vivid outbursts added a welcome daub of colour to the Spanish football scene. He embarked on a memorable and highly entertaining joust with Jose Mourinho after the Real Madrid coach accused him of gifting three points to Barça by fielding a weakened team at the Camp Nou. Preciado responded by branding Mourinho "a villain, and a very bad companion".

Preciado had the last word in that spat when his Gijon team went to Real Madrid's daunting Bernabeu stadium and won 1-0 to end Mourinho's record of never having lost a home game in nine years with Porto, Chelsea, Internazionale or Madrid. It was typical of Preciado's likable character that Mourinho became an admirer and friend, and his tribute was one of the earliest and most moving.

"Manolo was always an honourable opponent, who I got to know well," he said. "He had everything that I like in a person and in sportsmen: character, openness and the courage to fight against blows. We have been left by a football figure and above all by a very special person. My memory of him will be heartfelt and permanent."

Preciado was sacked by Sporting Gijon in January after a string of disappointing results which eventually ended in relegation. He had defied footballing gravity to keep them among the élite for so long, but 2011-12 turned out to be a season too far. For once, the protestations that club and manager were parting on amicable terms wasn't a gross distortion of the truth; Preciado had become a cherished adopted son of Gijon. A club statement said: "With deepest regret, Sporting Gijon wish to express their sorrow at this sad loss, for someone who formed an integral part of this club's history, and send their deepest condolences to his family in this time of grief. His name will be written in the annals of the club's history in golden letters."

Preciado's life away from football was scarred by tragedy. He lost his wife to cancer in 2002, while in 2004 his15-year-old son died in a road accident. Last year his father was also killed in a car crash. He bore these catastrophes with stoic bravery. "Life has dealt me several blows," he said. "It could have made me vulnerable and driven me to suicide, but I decided to look to the sky and believe." He died after suffering a heart attack.

Manuel Preciado Rebolledo, footballer and coach: born El Astillero, Cantabria 28 August 1957; married (wife deceased 2002; one son deceased); died Valencia 7 June 2012.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
football
News
Tangerine Dream Edgar Froese
people
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us