In memoriam: Luis Aragonés Suárez
This morning, we were awoken in shock on hearing the news that Luis Aragonés, the grand elder statesman of Spanish football, had passed away. For the sheer number of games he played and later, oversaw as a coach in Spain’s top division, there is no one close to him. He also changed the long-established pessimistic outlook that had plagued our national team with his daring adjustments ahead of EURO 2008 – that side surprised us all, with their flair and elegance – their exceptional performance against Russia in the quarter finals was worthy of being displayed at the Prado Museum. He had been ill for a while although no information ever emerged about his condition. He has left us, aged just 75 and we will really miss him but the final judgment will stop here.
Luis was a shy, retiring person – a man with few friends but those who were close to him were bonded with an indestructible cord of loyalty. Nevertheless, he always had the respect of those of us who were outside of his close-knit circle because above all else, he was an honourable man – a true man. He would never conceal anything, or try to trick or deceive. I’ve always thought that this was precisely the reason why he was so widely loved and respected by all of the players he coached – without exception. They always knew where they stood with him. I have never met a single player who he has coached that has ever criticized him. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – all of them sing his praises. And that is another unique part of this tragic news – his passing has left many people feeling sad.
An Atlético man through and through, his heart and soul was Atlético. Despite that he joined Real Madrid who acquired him from Getafe and brought him through their youth ranks, loaning him out sporadically. When Madrid signed Isidro (Quique Sánchez Flores’ father), Luis was farmed out to Betis as a makeweight in the deal but when Santiago Bernabéu found out about it, he was outraged. Bernabéu knew that as a player, Aragonés was the real deal – and he was right. He remains the all-time top scorer at Atlético and later coached the club with such prominence that he became their main figure of reference. But all of us feel grateful to him. Rest in Peace.