POTCHEFSTROOM - Vicente del
Bosque promised continuity when he succeeded Luis Aragones after
the triumph of Euro 2008 and has delivered spectacularly on that
Under the mild-mannered, avuncular 59-year-old, Spain have
swept to 30 wins in 32 matches, including a perfect 10 victories
during their World Cup qualifying campaign.
While Aragones favoured a brasher style and provoked his
players to inspire them, Del Bosque is more of a kindly father
figure, quietly coaxing the best out of his hugely talented
squad and successfully fostering a harmonious atmosphere.
The only blots on his record are a 2-0 defeat by the United
States at last year's Confederations Cup and the 1-0 reverse to
Switzerland in their opening Group H match in South Africa.
Despite the shock of that setback, he refused to tinker with
the European champions' fast-flowing, possession-based playing
style, triumphantly leading the Spanish into a World Cup final
for the first time.
The son of a railway worker father, Salamanca-born Del
Bosque is admired for his honesty, discipline, strong work ethic
and serenity and is gracious both in victory and defeat.
He reads widely over the media coverage of Spain's
performances, is publicly respectful of others' opinions,
however they are expressed, and willing to take on board
criticism and consider changing tactics where needed.
"I learn more from Vicente than he learns from me," Spain's
sporting director Fernando Hierro, who played under Del Bosque
at La Liga giants Real Madrid, told reporters at the team's
training base in Potchefstroom last month.
"For me he is like an encyclopaedia," Hierro added.
A Real man through and through, Del Bosque has not let
allegiance to his former club, whom he coached to two Champions
League and two league titles, colour his attitude to the
He has proved equally capable of getting the best from Real
players such as captain Iker Casillas, right back Sergio Ramos
and midfielder Xabi Alonso as from key squad members like Xavi,
Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol, who play for
Real's arch rivals Barcelona.
His decision to select seven Barca players in his starting
11 for the semi-final against Germany, compared to three from
Real, was proof that he is ready to cast aside any allegiance he
may have to his former club for the good of the national side.
The 1-0 defeat of Germany in their last-four clash in Durban
on Wednesday was particularly special for Del Bosque, falling
during the important Spanish festival of San Fermin.
"During the day I was thinking a lot about my (deceased)
father and brother, who both had the name Fermin," he said on
Thursday in an internet chat.
"I remembered those closest to me, my family, who were
suffering back in Madrid."
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