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:


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.


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.


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.


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.

  • Yellow Submarine

    Extremely sad news on so many levels.

    I hope his family is pulling together.


  • Joe

    Platini says the United States is racist. While that might be true, to mention the USA in the same breath as the racism I saw in the BBC documentary is utterly ridiculous.

    Soccer players worldwide should want to come to play their sport here because they may never or hardly ever face that level of hate and racism.

    Shame on Platini for trying to drag our country down in to his problems.


  • Mig22

    England’s run up to the Euros continue to be a disaster. It’s a bummer for the Defoe family and all condolences to them.

    Aside from that, it’s just fascinating to watch the team crumble due to injury, dissension, and personal issues. Will anybody be surprised if they crash out immediately?


  • ben in el cajon

    Could you provide a source or link or something? I didn’t see it in this article.


  • Itsjoshadams

    Horrible news about Preciado, yet a beautiful piece by Sid Lowe. At least his life ended of its own accord, and not by his own hands.

    Equally sad for Defoe, who was not going to play a huge part for England, but is terrible for him and his family nonetheless.


  • pancholama

    What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
    It’s not over ’til it’s over.

    “Sorry, Three Lions
    Ten reasons why England won’t win Euro 2012”
    …in ESPN’s Euro 2012 on-line soccer coverage is pretty hilarious, and sad, but true.


  • Tom

    I will always be grateful to Preciado for calling Mourinho a lowlife scumbag to the press.


  • pancholama

    Atlante used to be a Mexico City, DF team, now they ply their trade in Cancun.
    I hear the beaches in the Cancun / Playa del Carmen area are pretty nice.
    What’s not to like.
    Is “el Doc” still the coach / technical director?


  • pancholama


    And my sincere condolences to the entire Spanish football community, his family and friends.


  • Freddy

    Having Lahm marking Ronaldo makes the most sense as he is more than capable of doing so. I could see Boateng being able to handle Ronaldo (with help), but Ronaldo would eat Bender for breakfast.


  • Old School

    This constant stigma/xenophobia is why I’d love nothing more than to see the United States become a force in soccer.

    Let’s face it, we dominiate in every other sport/olympic event, and morons like Platini remind me of why I love this domination.

    The guy is a disgrace. I guess we better start enjoying it because he’ll eventually become FIFA President if Sepp Blatter and his ilk get their way.

    F’ing scum.


  • Mig22

    Yeah, Ben, Joe’s comments are not on this article. I just see Platini’s name and can’t help get annoyed.

    I couldn’t find a link to one of the two or three interviews where Platini made disparaging remarks about the US (and non-Euro soccer in general) but they should be out there somewhere.


  • Mig22

    Ronaldo still spends more time on the left, yeah? DOesn’t that mean that Lahm will not be marking him? Or am I just confused?


  • Eurosnob

    If you are referring to BBC’s documentary about racism in Poland and Ukraine that encourages fans to boycott Euro 2012, the documentary is a piece of junk. There’s a lot more racism in England (within and outside soccer stadiums) than in Eastern Europe. The guy, who made the movie, went out of his way to manipute things to make the two host countries to appear extremist. He either did not translate rather harmless chants by the fans (e.g. name of the home team’s striker or the name of the home team) or, where a translation was made, things were mistranslated in a way to make the fans appear racist or neo-nazi. For example, in a taunt by Polish fans, the name of the opposing team was replaced by the word “Jew,” which made thousands of Polish fans look like they were craving for the revival of the Third Reich. I am not suggesting that Poland and Ukraine are perfect, but BBC’s “documentary” is worse than paparazzi journalism.


  • Joe

    I am not defending BBC’s journalistic integrity, but for Platini to compare the USA to what is going on in other countries is absurd.

    Have you ever been to an MLS game? I have been to a few and have seen nothing but fans of all different colors, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds, in general, cheering for their team. I have not seen anything close to the racist stuff that happens all over Europe in almost every match.


  • Eurosnob

    I’ve been to a number of MLS games with DCU and I have not noticed any racism at the stands or on the field. In fact, they have a more family friendly atmosphere at the stands than in Europe. I have not heard Platini’s remarks so I cannot judge them. He is usually pretty reasonable, but judging by your reaction, he may have done something different here.


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