BUENOS AIRES: Alejandro Sabella, the coach who took Argentina to the World Cup final in 2014, has died aged 66 after years of battling with cancer and heart problems.
Sabella’s death came less than two weeks after the passing of Diego Maradona, who played with Sabella for the Argentine national side in the 1980s.
Maradona died from a heart attack in Buenos Aires on Nov. 25, aged 60.
The hospital where Sabella had spent the last couple of weeks said he died from the consequences of a “secondary dilated cardiomyopathy and long time cardiotoxicity.”
“Another harsh blow for football in this dark 2020: the beloved Alejandro Sabella has departed,” said his team mate, former goalkeeper Ubaldo Fillol. “An exquisite player, a winning coach who took us to the World Cup final, and a great person.”
A tricky winger who also played in midfield, Sabella shot to fame at River Plate in the 1970s and earned a transfer to Sheffield United, becoming one of the first South American players to feature in the English league.
His time in Sheffield was short but Sabella was, along with international team mates Osvaldo Ardiles, Ricardo Villa and Alberto Tarantini, one of several Argentines whose arrival in the UK after their 1978 World Cup triumph brought a touch of glamour to the English game.
His two years in Sheffield were followed by a short spell at Leeds United before he returned to Estudiantes in 1982.
It was at the Argentine club that he became a manager in 2009, leading the provincial side with Juan Sebastian Veron in midfield to their fourth Copa Libertadores title.
Sabella’s success there led to a position as coach of the national team in 2011.
After losing 1-0 to Germany after extra time in the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro, Sabella retired and, increasingly beset by health problems, never returned to the sidelines.
Manchester United full back Marcos Rojo, who played under Sabella at Estudiantes, said in an Instagram post: “I am the player I am and the person I am thanks in large part to you”.