Spanish coach Manuel Preciado died of a heart attack on Thursday at the age of 54, just a day after he was named the new coach at relegated side Villarreal.
“A heart attack claimed the life of Manuel Preciado in the early hours at a hotel in Valencia,” his former side Sporting Gijon said in a statement.
Preciado, who was known for his frank speaking style, had been due to be officially unveiled as Villarreal’s new coach on Friday on a one-year deal.
“Villarreal want to express their deepest sorrow at the sad loss and want to offer their condolences to his family and all his relatives,” the club Preciado was joining added in a separate statement
Preciado lost his first wife to cancer in 2002 and two years later the youngest of the couple’s two sons was killed in a car accident at the age of 15. Last year his father died after being run over by a car.
“Life has given me strong blows. I could have become vulnerable and shot myself or I could look up to the sky and carry on. I preferred the second option,” Preciado said last year when his father died.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, in Poland with the rest of the national team for Euro 2012, called the news of Preciado’s death “a blow”.
“We were all having breakfast when we heard the news and it had a real impact on us,” he told radio Marca.
“It is hard to believe that so much can happen in so little time to someone. It makes you realise how we are nothing,” he added.
“I did not have regular contact with him but he was always a warm man, a man of football who represented the values of this sport. A fighter who opened a space for himself in this world.”
Preciado, who remarried in October 2011, began coaching in the third division in 1995.
During his career he helped lift two clubs to the Spansh first division — Levante in the 2003-04 season and Sporting Gijon in the 2007-08 season.
He also coached Racing Santander and Murcia.
“We have lost a great guy who was crazy about football, a terrific person,” Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas wrote on his Facebook page.
Preciado had been out of work since Sporting Gijon fired him in January after nearly six years in charge of the club following a 1-5 away loss against Real Sociedad which left the team in the relegation zone.
He played for several clubs, including Racing Santander, Linares and Ourense, as a defender.