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RIP Luis Aragonés: Spanish Football Will Miss You

by Ines Barbosa
Feb 02, 2014 1:31 PM EST



Former Spain coach Luis Aragonés has died at the age of 75. He was reportedly battling leukemia. Aragonés dedicated 50 years of his life to football and is probably most remember for beginning Spain's recent run of success by winning the European Championship in 2008. The world will probably credit current head coach Vicente Del Bosque for Spain's success on the world stage, but the truth is that Aragonés was also vital for that team and his contribution shouldn't be forgotten. Aragonés was born in Madrid in 1938 and started his career as player at Getafe, when he was 19-years-old. In the years that followed, he played for Recreativo, Real Madrid, Hércules, Real Oviedo and Real Betis, until he transferred to Atlético Madrid in 1964 and spent the last (and best) 10 years of his career there. Even though he's best known as a coach, Aragonés was a very talented player. He's still the best-scoring midfielder that Atlético's team ever had. With that team, he conquered three Spanish League titles (1966, 1970 and 1973) and two Copa del Rey trophies (1965 and 1972), and right after he retired as a player, he became their head coach. The coach left after five years but later returned on three occasions, making him one of the most loved coaches in the history of the club - probably the most loved one ever, even if Diego Simeone has been giving him a run for his money now. Aragonés spent a few years at other Spanish club teams--like Real Betis, Barcelona, Espanyol, Sevilla, Valencia, Real Oviedo and Mallorca--and finally, in 2004 he assumed the command of the Spanish National Team and led Spain to win Euro 2008, his last of important victories. With the revealing nickname of "The Wise Man of Hortaleza", Aragonés will always be remembered by the pep talks he gave his team before games and was said to motivate them to do better and be better. He'll always be remembered for being the one who started building Spain's best team ever, by bringing players like Fernando Torres, Andrés Iniesta and Cesc Fàbregas, among others, which later revealed themselves crucial to so many wins. Before Aragonés, Spain's nickname was "La Furia" - after him, it's been "La Roja". This change of name explains just how much he really contributed to Spain's monopoly over football in these past few years. It was under his command that the energetic, but somewhat disorganized national team became stronger and wiser, because they began to adapt Barcelona's successful "tiki-taka" style. This is a concept which Del Bosque later perfected, but it all started with Aragonés's vision. As Del Bosque himself said today, "Luis paved the way" for what came next. Many reacted to his death and wanted to pay their final respects to the coach who began it all. Torres said that he'd, "Never be able to thank (Aragonés) enough for everything (he) had done for him," Roberto Soldado highlighted the coach's "strong character" that made the team "believe", Fernando Llorente asserted that he was, "One of those persons who marks you when you cross paths with them," and Iniesta wanted just to thank him, "For all that (he) taught them, all that (he) gave them." All seem to agree that, without Aragonés, Spain's path wouldn't have been the same as it is right now. They all want to show their gratitude for all he's brought to their lives. There is not much left to say when one of the good ones leaves the football world, is there? As Aragonés himself would say, "Y ganar, y ganar, y ganar, y volver a ganar, y ganar, y ganar, y ganar, y eso es el fútbol, señores" ("And winning, and winning, and winning, and winning again, and winning, and winning, and winning, at that is football, ladies and gentlemen."). Rest in Peace.