Vicente del Bosque brought the curtain down on one of the most successful managerial careers in football on Thursday, saying he has resigned from the Spain job and does not expect to coach again.
His departure at aged 65 comes just days after the reigning champions crashed out of Euro 2016, a sad end to a trophy-laden career with club and country.
“Without a doubt, I have no intention to remain as coach, but you have to be discreet. No matter what the result of the Euros, I had no doubt about what my future would be,” he told Spanish public radio RNE, confirming Spanish media reports that he was stepping down.
“I have handled this issue discreetly. But it is a decision that was taken in advance,” he added.
Spain were eliminated from Euro 2016 on Monday following a meek 2-0 last 16 defeat to Italy.
Madrid-based sports daily Marca says that ex-Sevilla coach Joaquin Caparros is the favourite to take over.
Del Bosque, who succeeded the late Luis Aragones after Spain’s triumph at Euro 2008, is a popular figure in Spain after leading the national team to a maiden World Cup victory in 2010 and a second consecutive European Championship two years later.
But some felt a fresh start was needed after Spain’s failure to advance beyond the group stage at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
Del Bosque held on for a further two years hoping to bow out on a high in France, but the gamble did not pay off.
“I had already said it. I had no doubts. It would be hard to win (the tournament) again. Maybe we did not perform well against Italy. The first stage went well. But the most difficult part would be winning again,” Del Bosque said.
He told the radio station he will remain in his post until his contract expires on July 31 and then he will leave football coaching for good.
“On July 31 I will leave football. I will be available to help. I will leave the bench although I will always remain close and will want things to go well for Spanish football. If I can help in anything, I will,” he said.
Del Bosque said no one at the Spanish football federation had asked for his advice regarding who should replace him.
Caparros, who is currently out of work but has managed a host of Spanish clubs including Villarreal, Granada, Athletic Bilbao and Levante, told Marca: “I would be excited to manage the national team, any Spanish coach would be honoured to take this job.”
There has been no official word on del Bosque’s successor and among the other names tipped to replace him is former Spain under-21 boss Julen Lopetegui, Granada coach Paco Jemez and former Marseille boss Jose Miguel Gonzalez.
Del Bosque won virtually every major honour at club and international level.
Two Champions League and La Liga titles with Real Madrid were followed by winning Spain’s first World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and becoming the first side to retain the Euros four years ago.