Buenos Aires (AP) – Alejandro Sabella, former national coach of Argentina, died on Tuesday at the age of 66, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) announced.
“Today we have lost a great player, a coach and a good person,” an AFA statement said. According to media reports, the former midfielder was treated for heart, kidney and respiratory diseases at a clinic in Buenos Aires for nearly two weeks.
Sabella had led the Argentina national team to the final at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where they ultimately failed 1-0 against Germany. “Alejandro was a great person and an extraordinary professional who shaped my career and from whom I learned a lot,” Argentine striker Lionel Messi wrote on Instagram. President Alberto Fernández said: “Alejandro Sabella was a man of dignity, conviction and principle – that’s how he showed himself on the field as a player and as a coach.”
As a young man, Sabella played in England for Sheffield United and Leeds, and later for Estudiantes de La Plata in Argentina and Gremio Porto Alegre in Brazil. He later returned to Estudiantes de La Plata as a coach and won the Copa Libertadores with the team in 2009 before finally taking over the national team in 2011.