Anibal Ruiz, Puebla assistant and longtime coach in Mexico and South America, died Friday after collapsing on the field in Veracruz. He was 74.
"We lament the death of our dear and respected assistant coach Prof. Anibal Ruiz," a Puebla release read. "We send our most sincere condolences to his whole family.
"Thank you, Mano, for your commitment to the Mexican football family. Rest in peace."
Ruiz was on the field ahead of Puebla's game against Veracruz when he fainted and had to be rushed to the hospital. Puebla club president Jesus Lopez Chargoy told Televisa Deportes that Ruiz has suffered a heart attack and died.
En ambulancia se llevan al "Maño" Ruiz, auxiliar de Cardozo, se desmayó en pleno campo #Veracruz vs. #Puebla @estoenlinea @AguileraESTO pic.twitter.com/CzJm42FxXi — Javier Juárez (@Xavihernandezg) March 11, 2017
The Uruguayan had coached soccer in Latin America since the 1970s, getting his first head coach job with Olimpia in Paraguay in 1985, taking that team to a championship. He would go on to coach more than a dozen teams in Mexico, Central America and South America, including the Paraguay and El Salvador national teams. He won CONMEBOL national team manager of the year in 2005 during his time with Paraguay.
Tributes began to come in Friday night, including one from Carlos Reinoso, the Veracruz coach who was set to be his opposite number Friday with Puebla coach Jorse Cardozo suspended.
Se fue un hermano del el Maño es y será de las gentes que me marco con su amistad fuiste lo máximo como amigo — Carlos Reinoso V (@Carlos8Reinoso) March 11, 2017
The league also expressed condolences. "Liga MX/Liga Ascenso expresses its most sincere condolences for the death of Mr. Anibal Ruiz," a statement read, "a man who dedicated his life to football and who was part of the Mexican soccer family. We hope his family and friends will soon find peace."
Club Leon, one of his former clubs, also sent a message, reading, "Club Leon laments the death of Anibal "Mano" Ruiz, who was manager of our club in 1998. Rest in Peace."
Friday's contest already was set to be postponed because of a referee work stoppage.