Juan Mata and Pedro have paid their respects to Spanish coach Manuel Preciado who passed away on Thursday.
Preciado, 54, agreed a deal to take over as manager of La Liga outfit Villarreal only 24 hours before he suffered a fatal heart attack.
Mata, who enjoyed a successful season with English side Chelsea that culminated in a Champions League title, was clearly moved about the news of the coach’s passing.
“It’s obviously a difficult day – the death of Manolo (Manuel Preciado) will affect football and sport,” Mata said.
“He was a very well loved professional and a very well loved person, a great person and he made a big contribution to football and he will be missed.
“I remember him as always smiling and as being a very cheerful person full of passion and joy. To speak about him now in the past is very, very painful.”
Pedro, who plays for Barcelona, echoed the thoughts of his Spain team-mate.
“Obviously my condolences are with the family (of Manuel Preciado) – I want to send all our support to the family. He was a great coach, an excellent person – it’s a tragic death,” Pedro said.
The attacker also spoke about the added pressure on his side to win Euro 2012.
Spain are favourites to win the tournament in Poland and Ukraine after previous successes at Euro 2008 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
“The players are always under pressure in this kind of tournament,” he said.
“They’ve won titles in the past and they are very conscious and aware that there are some very good, very strong teams there.”
Vicente Del Bosque’s side open their Group C campaign on June 10 against Italy.
“Italy is a strong team with very experienced players and it will be a hard match,” Pedro said.
“So the players are taking the championship step by step and of course they hope to win.”
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