Saturday, February 01, 2014

RIP Luis Aragones

Luis Aragones appeared to some as an old, vulgar, dictatorial, and for some racist, old man. But it was clear that his football players loved him, perhaps seeing in him a father figure who said things directly and the job got done.
Because indeed, Luis Aragones got the job done of bringing Spanish football to the top of the world after decades and decades of disappointments and underperformance. But Luis Aragones greatest feat was to give Spain a football identity that they had lacked. He had the privilege of one of the greatest footballing generation Spain had ever seen, but he gave them a purpose and led them to their first major title, the 2008 European Championship. Luis Aragones created a team, like he said in one of his most memorable phrases to his Spanish national team in 2008 (my translation): "You are all an exceptional group. If I do not get to the final with this group I am a shit, who has created a shit team."
It was not a shit team for sure.
Surely Luis Aragones had been groomed to lead Spain to glory. He was from Atletico Madrid, where he had become a legend as coach and player, and as such, he never had a particular preference for the two arch-rivals in Spanish football. At the same time, nobody knew Spanish football as intimately as him. From 1974 to 2004, when he became national team coach, he managed eight different Spanish clubs, including FC Barcelona. More than anyone he understood the strengths, but also the weaknesses of his country when he took over the national team, and went about forming the style and team spirit that made Spain the best in the world. His mantle has surely been taken over by Vicente del Bosque, who has continued Luis Aragones legacy.
Spain lost what was surely the greatest influence on their team ever. RIP.

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