He's in a good place
In 2008, Vicente del Bosque took over a Spain team that had just reached the pinnacle of European football under Luis Aragones and, within two years, he had led them to the top of the world. Following victory at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, the glorious spell was broken by poor results at Brazil 2014 and Euro 2016. Del Bosque decided to step down after Spain's exit from the Euros but, prior to officially leaving his post, the manager met with Fifa.com to give his verdict on his time in charge of the European giants.
Now that your eight-year spell as Spain coach has drawn to a close, what's your verdict on your time in charge?
DEL BOSQUE: There's been a bit of everything. We've had the opportunity to win a lot of things, but we've also suffered defeats. That's sport.
But I leave with a clear conscience and the feeling of having fulfilled my duty to Spanish football.
Do you have any regrets?
No, to be honest, I don't. I'm not saying that I'm leaving having completed every task I was set, because we knew that was impossible.
To have won another World Cup and another Euro would have been virtually impossible. I go with a feeling of not leaving any loose ends.
We were able to continue the great work we inherited from Luis Aragones in 2008, and the national squad we leave behind is one that can and should be viewed with optimism.
You have always shown a lot of gratitude for the job that Aragones did. Can you explain to us what you inherited from him and what legacy you leave for your successor?
We inherited a style of play and a pathway that was laid out. But, after that, each coach has to guide the team in his own way, depending on his background, character and personality.
No two coaches are the same but, at that moment in time, in 2008, the path was very well laid out for us.
Now, too, I think the team are moving in the right direction, with the proviso that whoever comes in will need to bring in those players that merit inclusion, just as we did.
It must have been a privilege to be Spain head coach, given the generation of footballers at your disposal, but what was the main downside of the job?
It's when you have to make decisions trying to pick the best (players) and you might not get it right, because the margins involved are so tight.
So, yes, I'd include that in the negative box, that sometimes when choosing players we might have wronged some of them, though not through any sense of malice at all.
When it comes to assembling any successful team, the players' talent and the coach's guidance go hand-in-hand. Percentage-wise, how much influence would you attribute to each of these two factors?
The main thing is to have good "raw material" at your disposal and then comes the coach's good judgment and sense of balance.
There are two areas where a coach needs to have an impact. (Firstly), when the squad are together, he should be a good leader and foster a friendly atmosphere within the group.
And, secondly, he should provide the tools to help them become a great "team" in every sense of the word.
Spain achieved success playing with a very characteristic style but, after what happened at Brazil 2014 and Euro 2016, this has come up for debate. Should this style be non-negotiable, as Xavi Hernandez often says?
That's a decision for the new coach and I don't think I should have any say at all.
I'm keeping out of it. Whoever comes in will decide and will get it right.
Do you have any advice for your successor?
No, no, no, not at all. Each one of us sees football in a different way and what seems right to me might not be shared by the next in charge.
The next coach must be given absolute freedom to shape things as he sees fit.
I don’t feel persecuted, that would be unfair. There is a group who want Spain to lose. They’re the minority, because the rest are fantastic. But they’re waiting for the smallest thing, to cut off your head. Now that Spain aren’t winning, they appear more frequently. Fortunately, they are very few.
— Outgoing Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, on the criticism he has received