Although 2012 was marked by many wonderful moments, it was another year in which football lost some of its most iconic figures, from players and coaches to officials and journalists. FIFA.com paid tribute to each of them when the sad news of their passings first broke but, as the curtain falls on another 12 months, we remember some of the most celebrated.
The game bade farewell to several coaches this year, including former Yugoslavia and Real Madrid tactician Miljan Miljanic, who also served as President of the Yugoslavian Football Association and, between 1993 and 2001, the FA of Serbia and Montenegro. He passed away aged 81 in January, a month before Sylvestre Mbongo died at the age of 70. The President of the Congolese FA from 1979 to '87 and again from 1992 to 2006, as well as a member of CAF's Executive Committee, Mbongo was considered 'a baobab of Congolese football' in Africa.
Former USA (1983-85) and Greece coach Alketas Panagoulias also left us this year at the age of 78, and 2012 likewise saw the passing of Frenchman Antoine Redin. In charge of Nancy between 1970 and '80, Redin launched the career of current UEFA President Michel Platini.
One of the foremost figures in Egyptian football, Mahmoud El-Gohary died this year aged 74, having led the Pharaohs to the 1990 FIFA World Cup™ after a 56-year absence from the global showcase. In a similar vein, Pape Diop, who died in September, ended 18 years in the wilderness for Senegal when he steered the Lions of Teranga to the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Egypt 1986. John Bond, who passed away at the age of 79, coached Manchester City after 16 years and played over 400 matches as a defender for West Ham.
A long list of players featured in obituary columns this year and, tragically, some of those were still active at the time of their deaths. That was true of 25-year-old Livorno midfielder Piermario Morosini, who collapsed half an hour into a game against Pescara and could not be revived. As for 29-year-old Swedish footballer Victor Brannstrom, he had just scored for Pitea in a second-tier meeting with Umedalen when he fell to the pitch; like Morosini, he succumbed to a cardiac arrest.
Goalkeeper Miguel Calero, meanwhile, died as a result of cerebral thrombosis aged 41. Capped 50 times by Colombia, he will be remembered as a legendary figure at Mexican club side Pachuca, with whom he won ten titles between 2000 and 2011.
In terms of former players, the sport said its goodbyes to Polish legend Wlodimierz Smolarek in 2012, the 54-year-old having disputed a pair of FIFA World Cups. There was much mourning also for 78-year-old Spanish defender Marcos Alonso Imaz, nicknamed 'Marquitos', an iconic figure for Real Madrid in the 1950s and 1960s who helped the club win five consecutive European Champion Clubs' Cup titles.
He was joined a few months later by his team-mate and fellow defender Rafael Lesmes, who died aged 85, and an opponent in two of those European Cup finals, Stade de Reims striker Armand Penverne. Elsewhere, German football lost Helmut Haller, who contested three FIFA World Cups and scored the first goal in the 1966 Final before later handing the match ball to Geoff Hurst to commemorate his hat-trick. Former Brazil goalkeeper Felix – full name, Felix Mieli Venerando – tasted victory at the 1970 FIFA World Cup Mexico and died aged 74 from complications caused by pulmonary emphysema.
As for many of those players, success was also familiar to powerful Italian forward Giorgio Chinaglia, who clinched the Serie A crown with Lazio in 1976 and left to join Pele at New York Cosmos at the height of his powers. He died at 65 years of age.
Two more legendary strikers were mourned this year as African football lost a pair of high-profile servants. Firstly, Rasheed Yekini passed away in May as the record scorer for the Nigerian national team, firing 37 goals in 58 appearances. His efforts helped the Super Eagles claim the Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 and book their first ever ticket to a FIFA World Cup finals that same year.
Three days later, Senegal's Jules Bocande then died following surgery for a heart complaint. He registered 20 goals for the Lions of Teranga in 73 games between 1979 and 1993 and also coached the side from 1994 to 1995, leading them to the quarter-finals of the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations.
In terms of officials, the game said farewell to Gerard Enault, former general director of the French Football Federation (FFF). In addition to his work for the FFF, he served on the FIFA Marketing and TV Committee from 1998 to 2005, and the FIFA Media Committee from 2008 to 2009, playing a key role in the promotion and development of football and its values. Meanwhile, England's Jack Taylor passed away aged 82 and having refereed over 1,000 matches, including the 1974 FIFA World Cup Final.
Lastly, France lost their most loyal and passionate supporter in the form of television commentator Thierry Roland. He died at 74 years of age, and 14 years after exclaiming on the night that Les Bleus defeated Brazil in the FIFA World Cup Final: "After seeing that, I can die in peace."