On Wednesday, 54-year-old Manuel "Manolo" Preciado was announced as relegated Villarreal's new manager and the man tasked with getting the club back in La Liga as quickly as possible. A press conference unveiling Preciado was scheduled for Friday, but early Thursday morning Preciado suffered a heart attack and passed away.
Villarreal announced the terrible news on their official website:
Coach Manuel Preciado died early this morning in Valencia as a result of a heart attack. The Cantabrian, who had been elected by Villarreal to drive the draft next season, had 54 years. Villarreal want to show their deep regret at the sad loss and want to show their condolences to his family and all his relatives.
Preciado had a 15-year playing career that began with Racing Santander that led into his career in management that most recently included six years at the helm of Sporting Gijon that ended when he was sacked in January.
Described as "a people's poet and street philosopher with the deep gravely voice of the chain-smoker, floor vibrating with every word," by the Guardian's Sid Lowe, Preciado weathered devastating personal losses when his wife died of cancer in 2002, followed by his 15-year-old being killed in a car crash two years later. "I could have shot myself or I could have carried on," he said of that period. He carried on, but in April of last year he suffered another horrific loss when his father was hit by a car and killed.
Following a season that took a backseat to Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba's on-pitch collapse (and wonderfully improbable recovery), Livorno midfielder Piermario Morosini's death, and Wales manager Gary Speed's suicide, this is yet another tragedy that will prompt reflection and shift perspectives. And then we carry on.
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