Thursday Kickoff: Preciado dies of heart attack, Hughton to Norwich and more

Thursday Kickoff: Preciado dies of heart attack, Hughton to Norwich and more

European Soccer

Thursday Kickoff: Preciado dies of heart attack, Hughton to Norwich and more

Preciado (Reuters Pictures)

Given his history, track record and vision, Manolo Preciado seemed like the perfect man to be tasked with getting relegated Villarreal back to Spain's top flight. After a tragic event overnight, though, Preciado will never get that chance.

Preciado, a beloved long-time Spanish coach and player, died suddenly of a heart attack, a day before he was set to be introduced as Villarreal's next coach. He was 54 years old.

Preciado, who was let go from his post at Sporting Gijon in January after six years during which he led the club to Spain's top flight, was a major figure in Spanish soccer, and his death has sent shockwaves through the country and its soccer community. Just Wednesday Preciado, whose life had been marked with overcoming tragedy and adversity, had agreed with Villarreal to take over as manager.

For more on Preciado's life and career, read this profile of him.

Here are a few more stories from around the soccer world:

HUGHTON SET FOR NORWICH JOB

Chris Hughton is set to leave Birmingham City for Norwich City after interviewing for the job this week and impressing enough to the point that the Canaries will name him their new boss on Thursday.

Hughton will replace Paul Lambert, who bolted Norwich for Aston Villa. To secure his services, Norwich will pay Birmingham £1 million. Hughton had success at guiding Newcastle to the Premier League before being let go in somewhat controversial fashion a few months into Newcastle's top-flight campaign in 2010. He led Birmingham to the promotion playoffs this season and inherits a team that finished 12th in its first season since being promoted to the Premiership.

LAHM TO PLAY LEFT BACK

Philipp Lahm will be swapping sides for at least one match during Germany's run at the European championship and returning to his former position against a dangerous opponent.

Lahm will be playing left back against Portugal, he and manager Joachim Loew said in the build-up to the Germans' Euro 2012 opener against Cristiano Ronaldo & Co. on Saturday. Playing on the left is far from foreign for the German captain, who has done so for both club and country in the past. With him on that side, either Jerome Boateng or Lars Bender will step into the lineup at right back in an effort to handle Ronaldo.

DEFOE RETURNS TO ENGLAND AFTER FATHER PASSES

The father of England striker Jermaine Defoe passed away on Wednesday night, and the England national team striker has returned home to be with his family.

According to a statement from The FA, Defoe will not be replaced on England's roster, and he will return to the Three Lions at an undetermined time. 

England's first match at Euro 2012 is Monday against France. With Wayne Rooney suspended, the only other strikers on the roster are Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck, and the two would be pressed into action if Defoe does not return in time.

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What are your memories from Preciado's career? Do you think Hughton is a good hire for Norwich City? Think Lahm should be staying on the right for Germany? Do you think of England's attack is deep enough?

Share your thoughts below.

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