Spanish football in mourning for Preciado

Manolo Preciado, one of the Spanish game's most charismatic and best loved characters who recently agreed to take up the reins at relegated Villarreal CF, has passed away aged 54.

Manolo Preciado has passed away at the age of 54
Manolo Preciado has passed away at the age of 54 ©Getty Images

Spanish football is mourning the death of Manolo Preciado, the former coach of Real Racing Club and Real Sporting de Gijón, who has died aged 54 after suffering a fatal heart attack.

One of the game's most charismatic and best loved characters, Preciado had recently agreed to take up the reins at relegated Villarreal CF following a largely successful five-and-a-half years with Real Sporting de Gijón, whom he led into Spain's top flight. That was one of five promotions achieved by Preciado, who also took Levante UD into the Liga.

Following a playing career that began with Real Racing Club in 1977, Preciado twice coached the Santander side and also had spells in charge at RS Gimnástica de Torrelavega – where he made the transition from player to coach – and Real Murcia CF.

Speaking from Spain's UEFA EURO 2012 base camp in Gniewino, coach Vicente del Bosque said: "It is a shock. We were told the news during breakfast and were all left stunned. Manuel was a footballing man and a fighter who excellently represented the values of our sport."