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Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque cuts to many people's eyes a lugubrious presence on the touchline but former Spanish and Real Madrid striker Fernando Morientes says it is his intelligence that sets him apart from a lot of other coaches.
The 61-year-old can make history on Sunday by becoming the first coach to win a European Championship, World Cup and a Champions League title if Spain beat Italy in Kiev.
Morientes, scorer of 27 goals in 47 appearances for Spain from 1998 to 2007, was in the Real Madrid side that Del Bosque steered to two Champions League titles in 2000 and 2002.
He told France's L'Equipe newspaper that it is Del Bosque's intelligence that sets him apart from a lot of other coaches.
"A great coach for me must first be an intelligent man and if there is an intelligent man in Spanish football it is for sure Del Bosque," he was quoted as saying.
"Because he is not so vain that he will say: 'They won a title playing this way with this guy, now they are going to win titles by playing my way'.
"Del Bosque is a superb technician who has continued to take the team forward in small steps while still respecting each individual player's character down to the last."
Morientes, who went on to play for Monaco and inspired them to a surprise appearance in the 2004 Champions League beating Real Madrid along the way, said Del Bosque has a human touch.
As a result, he was able to maintain a harmonious changing room, even when top class players were being left on the sidelines.
"What you don't see, and which stays in the changing room, is his ability to explain face-to-face with each player the reason for his choice," said the 36-year-old.
"He has this gift, to choose the right words to reassure all the players.
"He will explain to you why you are a substitute and when he shakes your hand at the end of the tete-a-tete you will leave still with the impression that he trusts you and you still have a chance to get into the team.
"I experienced this at Real when Ronaldo (the Brazilian star) was there. There lies the difference between a good coach and a great one."
Morientes, who also had spells at Liverpool, Valencia and Marseille, said that Del Bosque is sensitive to the players' feelings and other such matters.
"From what I glean everything within the Spanish camp is going swimmingly," said Morientes, who played in two World Cups and one Euro.
"Del Bosque has always had this respect for so-called 'sacred cows' like the changing room when players prefer to be alone.
"He also never enforced a list of dos and donts. If you want to drink coca-cola instead of water with your lunch you could do so. Afterwards at training you know very quickly what he wants from you.
"He is a master of detail and you will repeat 25 times for instance shooting at the near post until you get it right."
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