Luis Aragones, the coach who led Spain to their first major title in the form of Euro 2008, and is credited by many as having laid the foundations for their subsequent World Cup and European Championship triumphs, has died at the age of 75.
The Spaniard had been suffering from a serious illness, the Daily Telegraph reports.
A striker in his youth, Aragones had been a longtime fixture of the Atletico Madrid team during the 1960s and 1970s.
But it was as a manager that he truly made his name, enjoying a lengthy career at clubs all over Spain, including four spells at Atleti.
He was given the Spain job in 2004, but after a promising start at the 2006 World Cup La Roja were stunned by Zinedine Zidane's France 3-1 in the last 16. It inspired Aragones to change Spain's approach, the Telegraph notes:
After Spain lost to France in the second round of the 2006 World Cup, Aragones introduced the new style of tiki-taka football to the national team. It was to prove hugely successful, with Spain deserved winners of Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, Fernando Torres scoring the winning goal in the final against Germany.
Euro 2008 saw Aragones stand down from the job, but Spain's blueprint for success was taken on by Vicente del Bosque. The new coach oversaw the 2010 World Cup triumph and then a successful defence of their European crown in 2012. It represents one of the greatest periods of glory in international football history.
Aragones was not without his critics—in the U.K. in particular he is remembered for an incident while manager of Spain in which he referred to Thierry Henry as a "black sh**" as he tried to motivate his own player Jose Antonio Reyes.
As the Guardian reported him saying at the time:
I am a citizen of the world. Some of my best friends are black, including those I have known since childhood. The fact I make a joke in order to motivate a player does not mean I am racist in the slightest.
But he was clearly deeply popular with those he managed, with tributes from Spain players quickly flooding in.
Es un día muy triste. Se va uno de los más grandes. Gracias por enseñarme gran parte de lo que soy. DEP Luis Aragonés pic.twitter.com/VUzQsmRnQL— David Villa (@Guaje7Villa) February 1, 2014
Descanse en paz míster. Gracias por todo! pic.twitter.com/pXh6ZZuOFt— Cesc Fàbregas Soler (@cesc4official) February 1, 2014