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Born: Thursday 19 January 1922, Madrid, Spain
Died: Monday 16 July 1990, Madrid, Spain (aged 68)
One of the few people to achieve huge success at the same club as both player and manager, Miguel Muñoz ranks as the most successful coach in the history of Spanish football. After ten years as a player with Real Madrid in which he captained their great team of the 1950s, he spent fourteen years as manager which brought a remarkable nine league titles and made him the first person to win the European Cup as player and coach.
Miguel Muñoz Mozún was born in Madrid on 19 January 1922 and as a boy attended the Colegio Calasancio in the city. It was there that he decided he wanted to pursue a career in football, but his ambitions were briefly put on hold by the Spanish Civil War which ran through much of his teenage years. His playing career began with Madrid sides Ferroviaria, Girod and Imperio, before stepping up to play for third tier side CD Logroñés while performing his military service in 1943-44.
After two years with Racing Santander, Muñoz joined Celta Vigo in 1946. In July 1948 he helped Celta to reach the final of the Copa del Generalísimo (now the Copa del Rey) against Sevilla. Although Celta lost 4-1, Muñoz scored the opening goal in the final and later that summer got the opportunity to move to Real Madrid. 1948 also brought the first of seven international caps, but he was never able to become a regular at that level. Muñoz would spend the remainder of his playing career with Real, usually playing at right-half, a position similar to a modern defensive midfielder.
When he joined, Real were in a period of rebuilding having finished a lowly 11th in the league in 1947-48, avoiding relegation by only two points. Over the next few seasons they gradually put a formidable team together and Muñoz won his first league title with Real in 1954, finishing four points clear of Barcelona. The title was retained a year later along with success in the international 'Latin Cup' competition, making Real one of the favourites for the inaugural European Cup in 1955-56.
Muñoz scored Real's first ever European Cup goal against Swiss side Servette and captained the team through to the final against Stade de Reims in Paris. Fighting back from 2-0 and 3-2 down, Real eventually won 4-3 and Muñoz became the first captain to lift the European Cup. With a fantastic team built around players like Raymond Kopa, Ferenc Puskás and Alfredo Di Stéfano, Real went on to dominate Spanish and European football and Muñoz went on to lead the team to league and European Cup doubles in both 1956-57 and 1957-58.
After the third European Cup win in 1958, Muñoz retired from playing at the age of 36. He was immediately offered the chance to manage Real's reserve team, known at the time as Plus Ultra. Just one year later he was named as manager of the first team. His first season saw Real miss out on the league title by the narrowest of margins having finished level on points with Barcelona, but they ended it in style by thrashing Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in the European Cup final. That win gave Real a fifth European title in a row and made Muñoz the first person to win the European Cup as a player and a coach.
Although the European run ended with defeat to Barcelona in 1960-61, Muñoz led Real to the first ever Intercontinental Cup title with victory over Uruguayan side Peñarol. That season also brought his first league title as a coach, with Real finishing a remarkable 12 points clear of city rivals Atlético. That title proved to be the first of a run of five in a row, including a league and cup double in 1962, although another European Cup initially proved to be elusive as Real lost the final to Benfica in 1962 and to Inter in 1964.
Muñoz finally won his second European Cup as a coach and his fifth overall in the season when Real's domestic run came to an end. Atlético edged them out by a single point in the league, but a 2-1 win over Partizan Belgrade brought the club yet another European success. On the back of that triumph, Muñoz led Real to three more league titles between 1967 and 1969, giving him a remarkable total of eight in nine years. In the spring of 1969 he formed part of a three man team given temporary charge of the Spanish national team who were struggling in World Cup qualifying, but they were unable to guide the team to the finals in Mexico.
In the early 1970s Muñoz saw his Real team slip back. Despite winning the cup they finished only fifth in 1969-70 and fourth a year later, also losing the Cup Winners' Cup final to Chelsea after a replay. Some rebuilding was needed and Muñoz achieved that with immediate effect as they another league title was won in 1972. That proved to be Muñoz's last league success, but his nine titles as a coach remain a record in Spanish football. Unfortunately, Real quickly dropped off the pace again and despite another cup win in 1974, an eighth place finish in the league was very disappointing and Muñoz left the club after 14 remarkable years in charge.
Over the next eight years Muñoz coached Granada, Las Palmas and Sevilla. The closest he came to any major success was a run to the cup final with Las Palmas in 1978, where he saw his team beaten 3-1 by Barcelona. In 1982, the Spanish national team was disappointingly knocked out of the World Cup on home soil in the second group stage. Following that tournament, the manager's job became vacant and Muñoz was offered the chance to take charge again, this time on a permanent basis.
His first task was to lead the team to the 1984 European Championship, a job which seemed destined to end in failure when Spain needed to beat Malta by 11 clear goals to qualify on goals scored. Leading 3-1 at half-time, Muñoz's team scored an incredible nine second half goals to win 12-1 and reach the finals in France. After two draws to begin their finals campaign, a narrow 1-0 win over West Germany took Spain into the semi-finals. The semi-final against Denmark went to penalties, where a 5-4 shoot-out success meant that Muñoz had taken his country into their first major final in 20 years. TEventually, a 2-0 defeat to hosts France left Spain as runners-up.
On the back of that run, Spain went on to qualify for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Despite losing their first game to Brazil, wins over Northern Ireland and Algeria set up another match against highly fancied Denmark. Muñoz's team won surprisingly easily, by five goals to one, to reach a quarter-final against dark horses Belgium. Despite forcing extra-time with a late equaliser, this time the penalty shoot-out went against them and Spain went home.
Muñoz's final international tournament with Spain was the 1988 European Championship, but his talented side of the mid-1980s was a fading force. Although they won their first game against Denmark, defeats to Italy and hosts West Germany sent them out in the group stage. Muñoz was dismissed after six years in charge, having won 30 of his 59 games. He subsequently retired from football, but his retirement was sadly to be very short. Having been taken ill in the summer of 1990, he died in Madrid on 16 July, at the age of 68.
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- Published on Saturday, 03 March 2012 18:44