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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
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: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital