Lorenzo Sanz was president in 1998, when Real Madrid became European champions for the first time since 1966. Credit: Daily Mirror.

Covid-19 has claimed a soccer great in Spain … as the virus death toll steadily mounts.

Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz has died of coronavirus aged 76, La Liga has announced.

Sanz, Real’s president from 1995 to 2000, had been admitted to hospital with a fever and tested positive for the virus, The Guardian reported.

La Liga said in a brief statement: “We want to send our deepest condolences for the recent death of Lorenzo Sanz, with whom many of us have shared work and friendship. We share in the pain of this loss, especially for Real Madrid, the club of which he was president for years. Rest in peace.”

Sanz’s son Lorenzo Jr, a former player and director with Real’s basketball team, confirmed his father’s death on Twitter, the report said.

He wrote: “My father just passed away. He did not deserve this ending and this way. One of the kindest, bravest, and [most] hardworking people I have ever seen is leaving.

“His family and Real Madrid were his passion. My mother and my brothers have enjoyed all their moments with pride.”

He was president in 1998, when Real Madrid became European champions for the first time since 1966, the report said.

They won the Champions League again in 2000 but he was defeated in that year’s election by Florentino Pérez, the report said.

A statement on Real Madrid’s website said: “Real Madrid, its president and the board of directors regret with great consternation the death of Lorenzo Sanz … They also want to express their deepest condolences and all their affection for his wife Mari Luz, her children, Lorenzo, Francisco, Fernando, María Luz (Malula) and Diana, and their family and friends.

“Today, Real Madrid is mourning the loss of a president who dedicated a large part of his life to his great passion: Real Madrid. Given the current circumstances, Real Madrid will pay him the recognition he deserves as soon as possible.”

According to Financial Times, Spain recorded more than 300 new dead from the virus on Saturday, taking its total number of fatalities to 1,326.

The number of documented cases of coronavirus increased by almost 5,000, according to figures released on Saturday, reaching 24,926 cases, with 1,612 people in intensive care, the report said.

Compared with Friday’s figures, the new numbers represent a 25% increase in cases, a 40% surge in people in intensive care and a 32% increase in the death toll, the report said.

Overall, 2,125 people have recovered.

Spain’s hospitals and intensive care units are struggling to cope, despite some Madrid hotels being temporarily converted into medical facilities, along with the Fair of Madrid, the capital’s main exhibition space, the report said.

Madrid remains the worst-affected part of Spain, with 8,921 cases, 767 people in intensive care and 804 deaths.