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Del Bosque: Real sacking still rankles

VICENTE del Bosque's firing by Real Madrid boss Florentino Perez stands out as the most painful memory of a successful coaching career, a "malicious" act that still stings.

But for the current Spain coach, leading this generation of Spanish talent is as exciting as his time at Real, where his tenure was cut short by Perez just 24 hours after winning the Spanish league title in 2003.

"That was a malicious act that hurt me the most," the 58-year-old del Bosque said in an interview. "And I'm not sure if it came from the proper president himself or from the people at his side who manage him. But, in all sincerity, it is the thing that hurts me the most."

Perez, who has just returned to Real as president, fired del Bosque after he had won two leagues, two Champions League titles and a Club World Cup during four seasons. Perez called del Bosque "old-fashioned" at the time, although he has since admitted his error in dismissing the former Real player.

But he has never said that to del Bosque, who was succeeded by five coaches - and no trophies - over the next three years.

"Never, no, no," said del Bosque, one of only five coaches to win the Champions League twice. "And I doubt he would because then you would have to admit why it was done."

Del Bosque was critical of Perez's recent decision to spend 223 million euros (US$314 million) on Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka as the construction magnate promises an offseason spree to return the "galacticos" label to Madrid.

Del Bosque, who managed to keep the egos of Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and Luis Figo all in check during his tenure at Real, believes Perez is banking his strategy on too few players.

"We've already seen it in practice, in the 70's and 80's when Barcelona bought the best players in the world but it was Real that always won," Del Bosque said. "Since 1973-74, when foreign players like Johan Cruyff and Hugo Sotil came to Spain, it's been shown teams aren't always made with the best players, but with other things also, like having a good attitude, for example.

"Having good players is not everything but, of course, it's better to have them."

Del Bosque sees the appointment of former Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini as the most positive signing so far as the team rebuilds to challenge Barcelona.


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