Vicente del Bosque was a product of the Real Madrid youth academy who went on to have a successful 16-year association with Los Blancos’ first team. The midfielder went on to make over 500 appearances for the Spanish giants across all competitions and won five league titles as well as four Copa del Reys during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.
It is bit of a quirk that Del Bosque couldn’t win the European Cup – one competition that Los Blancos are synonymous with – during his stint with Real.
However, he made up for it by delivering the Spanish giants their eighth and ninth European Cups as a manager. After leaving Real Madrid in 2003, the affable Spaniard had a season-long stint with Besiktas of the Turkish league.
He then took a hiatus from the game, only to return as manager of the Spanish national team and has since etched his name amongst the most successful managers in football history. He won the 2010 World Cup with Spain and then helped the side successfully retain the European Championship in 2012.
Tactics and Man-management (Strengths)
Del Bosque favours the 4-2-3-1 formation with the Spanish national team. During the time of the dominance of La Furia Roja, the manager had a plethora of options to choose from and he used to put Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso in a double pivot role. Busquets would break up opposition play, while Alonso would spray his traditional long and diagonal passes.
Xavi Hernandez played in the quintessential central midfielder role as he sat in front of the base of the midfield and circulated the ball efficiently, while Andres Iniesta took up the creative duties.
Even after the majority of Spain’s golden generation has moved on, Del Bosque has stuck to his methods albeit with different personnel.
He is also praised for his man-management skills and is often seen as a father figure by his players rather than an authoritative figure.
Best Spell as a manager
Del Bosque has enjoyed two hugely successful spells as manager. First at Real Madrid, where during his stint from 1999 until 2003, he won all major trophies except for the Copa del Rey.
However, it would be no exaggeration to say that the apotheosis of his work as manager has come during his time with the Spanish team, having guided them to back-to-back World Cup and European Championship wins.
Greatest players in his legendary teams
His time at Real Madrid coincided with the beginning of the Galactico era. As a consequence, he managed some of the biggest talents at the time, including Roberto Carlos, the majestic Argentine Fernando Redondo, Raul Gonzalez, Claude Makelele, Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo
It is to Del Bosque’s great timing that his stint with the Spanish national team coincided with their greatest crop in history. He managed Xavi, Xabi, Sergio Ramos, Iker Casillas, David Villa, Andres Iniesta and Busquets amongst a host of other exceptionally talented players.
Del Bosque’s work with the Spanish national team will be incredibly hard to emulate for any incoming manager. He also remains the only coach to have won the Champions League, the European Championship, the World Cup, and the Intercontinental Cup.
Place amongst the greats
Del Bosque might not be a tactical pioneer, but in terms of the sheer number of prestigious trophies he has collected, he would surely rank amongst the all-time top 20 managers in world football.
La Liga (2): 2000–01, 2002–03
Supercopa de España (1): 2001
UEFA Champions League (2): 1999–2000, 2001–02
UEFA Super Cup (1): 2002
Intercontinental Cup (1): 2002
FIFA World Cup (1): 2010
UEFA European Championship (1): 2012