MADRID, June 5 (Reuters) - Vicente del Bosque pledged continuity when he succeeded Luis Aragones after Spain’s victory at Euro 2008 and delivered spectacularly by leading the Iberian nation to their first World Cup triumph in South Africa two years later.
Under the mild-mannered, avuncular 61-year-old, the Spanish have swept to 47 wins in 55 matches, including a perfect eight victories in their Euro 2012 qualifiers, and have racked up 138 goals and conceded 42.
While Aragones favoured a brasher style and provoked his players to inspire them, Del Bosque is more the kindly father figure, quietly coaxing the best out of his hugely talented squad and successfully fostering a harmonious atmosphere.
The only two blots on his record in competitive games are a 2-0 defeat against United States at the 2009 Confederations Cup and a 1-0 reverse to Switzerland in Spain’s opening group match in South Africa.
Despite those setbacks, Del Bosque resisted the temptation to tinker with Spain’s fast-flowing, possession-based playing style, triumphantly leading the team on to a dramatic 1-0 victory in the final against Netherlands.
Since then there have been more defeats in friendlies, 4-0 against Portugal, a 4-1 loss to Argentina and defeats by Italy and England, but he could argue he was using those games to fine tune and experiment.
“A coach is only worth as much as his players,” Del Bosque, who is planning to remain in the job for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, told Reuters in an interview recently.
“In this case of course we have some very good players and they make all the people around them better,” the former Real Madrid coach added.
“I am enjoying what I do and I have the passion to keep working so that every day I can bring something to the team.”
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.
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 national side.
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.