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Madrid team-mates salute Zoco

"He was a great player and gave everything for Real Madrid," said ex-Madrid and Spain team-mate Enrique Pachín following the death of midfielder Ignacio Zoco at the age of 76.

Ignacio Zoco has died at the age of 76
Ignacio Zoco has died at the age of 76 ©Getty Images

Former Real Madrid and Spain midfielder Ignacio Zoco has passed away at the age of 76.

"Ignacio was a great player and an extraordinary person," said ex-team-mate José Santamaría. "He wanted to learn quickly and, most importantly, he understood Real Madrid's philosophy from day one.

"He always had a winning spirit and he was attentive on the pitch and read the game very well. He has left us far too young and it's a real shame because he still had lots of life in him. His memory will live on forever."

Zoco joined Real Madrid in 1962 from Osasuna and spent 12 glittering years at the Santiago Bernabéu, forming part of the dominant Madrid side known as the 'Ye-Yé' team – winning seven league titles and two Spanish Cups. He was also in the starting XI when Madrid beat Partizan 2-1 in the 1966 European Champion Clubs' Cup final in Brussels.

Capped 25 times, he was a starter too as Spain overcame the Soviet Union 2-1 in Madrid to win the 1964 UEFA European Championship – his country's first major trophy.

Zoco at the 1966 World Cup finals
Zoco at the 1966 World Cup finals©Getty Images

"For me it's like a brother has died," said former Madrid and Spain team-mate Enrique Pachín. "He was one of the lads. We were always together. It's a difficult day. He was a great player and gave everything for Real Madrid. We had so many great memories together."

His ex-midfield colleague José Martínez Sánchez 'Pirri' added: "He was a great team-mate and a great friend. He was fantastic – one of the truly great players. The 'Ye-Yé’ team was unique."

After compiling 434 appearances for Madrid, Zoco remained an important figure for the club long after retiring, acting as first-team delegate between 1994 and 1998. Up until his death he was president of the association of former Real Madrid players.

Rafael Benítez's squad paid tribute to Zoco on Monday by pausing their training session to hold a minute's silence, while defender Álvaro Arbeloa offered his condolences to Zoco's family, tweeting: "My deepest sympathy to the family and friends of an all-time legend of football and Real Madrid, Ignacio Zoco. Rest in peace."

Real Madrid's 1966 final success
Real Madrid's 1966 final success