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Legendary Mexican coach Ignacio Trelles dies at 103

Ignacio “Nacho” Trelles won seven league titles in a 40 year career.

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Nacho Trelles (Right) with another Mexican legend, actor Roberto Gomez Bolaños.
Photo by: Etzel Espinosa/Jam Media/LatinContent via Getty Images

Ignacio “Nacho” Trelles, the biggest Mexican coaching legend, died on Tuesday at the age of 103. Trelles had a short playing career before an injury forced him to retire in 1949. He then started a coaching career from 1950 to 1991 where he won seven league titles. He also coached the Mexican National Team in the 1962 and 1966 World Cups. After 1991, he went back to Cruz Azul (where he had his most famous successes) to work with the youth teams until his retirement.

Trelles was born in Guadalajara in 1916. He started his playing career with Necaxa, winning three league titles. Later he moved to America, Monterrey, and then Atlante where he suffered a nasty injury that forced him to retire in 1948. In 1950 he started his coaching career at Zacatepec, where he got the team to move up to the first division. Later he would move to Club Marte, where he won his first league title in 1954. Trelles would move back to Zacatepec the next year and win his second consecutive league title. He would win the title again in 1957. He would later move to coach America, where he got two second place finishes.

Nacho Trelles first action with the National Team was in the 1958 World Cup, where he was the assistant coach to Antonio Lopez. During that World Cup, Mexico got their first point ever in a World Cup after tying Wales 1-1. Trelles would become the official coach of the Mexican National Team in 1960. In those times, it wasn’t a full-time position and he continued coaching clubs. Trelles coached in the 1962 World Cup and 1966 World Cup. In 1962, Mexico had their best World Cup ever. Although Mexico went out in the group stages, Mexico was in the Group of Death and only lost 2-0 to Brazil and 1-0 against Spain in the last minutes. Mexico finished the tournament with their first ever win, a 3-1 victory over Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia would finish the Tournament in second place after losing the final to Brazil by the same 3-1 score.

In the 1966 World Cup, Mexico’s run would also end in the group stages, but they would get two points by getting ties against France (1-1) and Uruguay (0-0). Mexico only lost 2-0 to host England, who would end up winning the tournament. During his tenure he also won a Concacaf Title (the equivalent to the Gold Cup nowadays) in 1965, and coached the Mexican Olympic team in the 1964 Games in Tokyo and in the 1968 Games in Mexico City.

After his spell in America, Trelles moved to Toluca in 1966. In Toluca he would win two back to back league titles. He would later move to Cruz Azul in 1976, in what is perhaps his most memorable spell. With the team he won his last two league titles, in 1979 and 1980. He would later move to Atlante, where he won his last continental title, the Concacaf Cup in 1983. In 1986 he would move to Club Leones Negros de la Universidad de Guadalajara, and later on finish his career in Puebla. After he retired as a head coach, he would move to Cruz Azul to coach in the youth squads. He would work in the institution up until he could no longer perform his functions because of old age.

Through the years Nacho Trelles had become the voice of Mexican football. He’s the coach with the most games, and had become the biggest coaching legend in Mexico. The press went to him all the time and he was revered as the voice of Mexico’s past. Mexico’s football will never be the same and is lucky to have had a figure like Nacho take part in it for so long.