Richard Moller Nielsen, the Danish soccer coach who nearly led the Israel national team to the World Cup over a decade ago, died on Thursday from complications of brain cancer. He was 76 years old.
Last September, Nielsen underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his brain, however he was unable to recover.
Nielsen’s coaching career spanned four decades, the highlight of which took place in 1992, when he guided the Danish national team to a European championship.
In late 2000, he was selected by the Israel Football Association to coach its national team as it prepared for the qualifiers for the 2002 World Cup, which was held in Japan and South Korea. Under Nielsen, the Israeli team finished third in the group behind Spain and Austria.
The Israeli team nearly qualified for the tournament, but was unable to crack the top two spots in the group. Nielsen continued coaching the squad, but after one-sided losses to Germany (1-7) and Denmark (1-3) in friendly matches, he resigned.
As coach, Nielsen tried to teach his Israeli charges to cease celebrating after goals. It was one of the reasons he felt that the team allowed the other side to score.