The Premier League, past and present, is full of managers with illustrious playing careers. Roberto Di Matteo played for Chelsea and Lazio. Paolo Di Canio was a superbly talented Italian footballer, and even Sir Alex Ferguson was a big player in Scottish football. But there is no list of teams that Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas has played for, because he hasn’t played a minute of professional football.
A remarkable statistic, considering the amount of managers who have a past career as a player. When he was 16-years-old, AVB was living in the same housing block as Sir Bobby Robson, the then Porto manager. After debating team selection, he was invited by Robson to join the team’s observation department. From their Robson got AVB to complete his coaching badges, before the Portuguese youngster got his first managerial job, coaching the British Virgin Isles. A year later he resigned as manager, and eventually became Jose Mourinho’s assistant coach.
It was with Jose where Villas-Boas learnt his trade. Following Mourinho from Porto to Chelsea, and then to Inter Milan, AVB studied hard under the legendary manager, before leaving the San Siro to join the Portuguese league’s bottom club Academica. The move upset Mourinho, but AVB focused on the job in hand, and made an immediate impact. He guided the club to safety, whilst playing attractive football. His role didn’t go unnoticed, and he was snapped up by Porto.
Here AVB won the Portuguese League, Cup, and the Europa League. AVB’s league record saw Porto go unbeaten all year, conceding just 13 goals all season. His incredible season earned him the job at Chelsea, where unfortunately for him, his revolutionary plans weren’t received well by the players or board. Villas-Boas wanted to make too many changes, including bringing in more youth players at the cost of the experienced. But after protests from players, AVB was sacked in March 2012.
He got a second opportunity in London just months later, as he was given the job at Tottenham. Despite a poor transfer window due to Daniel Levy’s desire to spend as little as possible, and some unlucky injuries, Spurs got their highest points finish ever, as they finished just a point outside the Champions League places. With a great platform to push off from next season, Villas-Boas has proven yet again why he is one of the best young managers in the game right now.
All of this, without kicking a football as a professional player. The Portuguese manager wasn’t focused in being on the field, scoring goals or making important tackles. From a young age AVB showed an observant eye and tactical knowledge worthy enough to join Sir Bobby Robson’s team. Villas-Boas has shown youngsters that life isn’t just about playing football. Whether he wasn’t good enough to make it at a young age, or if he just wasn’t interested in playing, Villas-Boas saw the opportunity to be a manager, and worked hard to get there.
From a young age, he was knocking on Sir Bobby Robson’s door, trying to talk to experienced managers and learn their trade. He worked hard to complete all of his coaching badges, before working with Jose Mourinho. He showed patience, working as an assistant scout for Chelsea, and waited for his opportunity on his own, and didn’t rush into a big job with out experiencing a variety of levels and teams as part of the backroom staff. Despite wanting to be a manager, AVB paid his dues, worked hard at Chelsea and continued to learn under Mourinho.
He has shown youngsters that you don’t have to be a player if you want to become a top-level manager. Teenagers all over the world have seen that just because you aren’t scouted as player, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a career in Premier League football. AVB worked hard, doing a variety of jobs, to earn the opportunity to manage 3 massive clubs in world football. He’s proved you don’t need to have played professionally to know how the game works. A league champion, and Europa League winner, AVB looks set to have a fantastic managerial career ahead of him. So just because you may not be playing for one of the best youth teams in the county, doesn’t mean you can’t have a career in football. If you know your football, understand tactics and appreciate the game, then push for the career you want. AVB did, and he’s earned winners medals since, and is now the manager of a club on the brink of qualifying for the Champions League.
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