“When Mr Bobby Robson came to Porto to be a coach in 1994 he moved into my building. I was a small boy, but because I was so interested in football I went to his flat to try to meet him. He liked my passion so helped me to enroll at Lilleshall. I shouldn’t really have been there, because the law doesn’t allow a minor to take qualifications. I was the youngest coach there by a mile, but I was so determined to make it that it didn’t bother me.” – Andre Villas-Boas.
Not all football fans know of the fascinating story behind newly appointed Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas, and so in this article I intend to share that very story with the world, as well as explain why I believe the acquisition of the young, yet extremely talented manager, could well catapult ‘the blues’ to a future filled with great success.
From an early age Villas-Boas knew he would never be good enough to play football professionally, and so he planned a future for himself within the world of sports journalism, however, when the late Sir Bobby Robson – a friend of his grandmother, was appointed Porto manager in 1994, his life was to change forever.
In a somewhat extraordinary tale of events, a 16 year old Andre Villas-Boas wrote a letter to Sir Bobby demanding answers as to why his boyhood hero Domingos Paciencia wasn’t playing regularly in Porto’s first team. After reading the letter and confronting the youngster, Robson was said to be extremely impressed by Villas-Boas’ knowledge and passion for the game, and so he offered him his first job in football, working within his beloved FC Porto’s observation department.
The following year saw the Portuguese sensation gain his UEFA C coaching liscence, aged just 17. He then moved quickly into management with a short spell in charge of the British Virgin Islands national team, however, after back to back defeats and conceding a massive fourteen goals in only two games he left the post, heading back to his favoured Estádio do Dragão to become ‘The Special One’ Jose Mourinho’s assistant. The two seemed to form a somewhat formidable partnership over the next few years, with Villas-Boas following Mourinho through managerial reigns at both Chelsea and Inter Milan. At one stage Mourinho was refering to his then assistant as ‘his eyes and ears’.
At the start of the 2009-10 season, Villas-Boas decided to part company with Mourinho as he prepared to launch his own career in management, and shortly after in October 2009 he was hired as Portuguese side Academica de Coimbra’s manager. When appointed as boss Academica were sitting bottom of Liga Sagres and looked anything but safe, however, the introduction of Villas-Boas attacking football seemed to take an immediate affect on the team, who then slowly began to climb the table. That year saw Academica finished in 11th place and a comfortable ten points clear of the relegation zone. Villas-Boas was an instant success.
Finally, just last season in 2010 Andre was given a chance to manage the club that he had supported his whole life, FC Porto. This would be the year Villas-Boas would make history. In his one season in charge at Futebol Clube do Porto his attacking style of play saw his team go on to break numerous records, wining the UEFA Europa League impressively and going unbeaten in Liga Sagres, as well as winning both the Portuguese Supercup and the Portuguese Cup titles. A truly outstanding achievement.
Now then, we come to the era in Villas-Boas’ already dazzling career that is yet to be written, Chelsea. However, the challenge now awaiting this managerial prodigy will surely prove to be his hardest test to date, and with the jury still seemingly undecided on his appointment, many fans will be wondering what it is that the 33 year old can bring to the table? A question I simply relish answering.
Yes its is no doubt correct that Villas-Boas is still extremely young in managerial terms, yet having worked in the game since the age of just 16, it would be foolish to then make the assumption that he is also inexperienced. Having been taught his trade under the guidance of the late legend that is Sir Bobby Robson, as well as working closely alongside a genius of todays modern game in Jose Mourinho, I would argue that Villas-Boas can now boast of experiences that some of todays top managers could only dream of. The fact that he has already worked as an assistant at Chelsea and speaks in fluent English should also prove to be of huge benefit.
There is one problem that is sure to arise though, the inevitability of comparison between Villas-Boas and Jose Mourinho himself, who is of course seen as an iconic figure in the eyes of Chelsea fans. This could potentially create huge difficulty for the new Chelsea boss, as I believe that the bond between Mourinho and CFC fans is one so great that even if he was to perform miracles at the club, he still wouldn’t be seen as a match for ‘The Special One’. In my opinion, comparing the two managers would be a crime, yes the two men have worked together and have similar backgrounds in the game, but the style in which they manage their teams couldn’t be more different. Whereas Mourinho bases his teams upon a solid defensive unit, Villas-Boas sets about creating a team full of attacking flair, something club Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has desired for many years. If given the correct backing from the fans and board alike, it is my belief that Villas-Boas is most definitely the correct appointment as manager for Chelsea, and I wish him all the success in the world.
The story that lies behind this footballing genius is simply inspirational, yet his future may well prove to be even more inspiring.
Article courtesy of Gary Watson from This is Futbol