Insight

Seeing sense

Dynamo Kyiv coach Mircea Lucescu, 75, explains how an open mind keeps him at the top of the game – and why he’s never stopped learning

INTERVIEW Paolo Menicucci | PHOTOGRAPHY Jasper Jacobs

“I find motivation in my passion for football, that’s for sure. I tried to stop last year because I’ve worked for 50 years without a break. I’ve never taken a sabbatical like other coaches – I’ve wanted to work. But when I tried to stop, it was impossible. I wanted to come back. I told myself there was so much I could still give to football, especially young players. So, I came back and I feel good being back at work.

“I’ve learned a lot from football. Discipline, interpersonal relationships... I grew up with football, so it’s taught me everything: human connection, how to go from a win to a defeat, because in football you can be the greatest today and a nobody tomorrow. It all depends on your last result, especially for coaches but for players too. Supporters don’t actually lose that much.

“Football has also taught me not to be too enthusiastic when you win and not too disappointed when you lose. You need to be very balanced because, if you’re not, you won’t last long in the game. At the beginning, I wasn’t like that. It took time, but that’s my advice to young coaches – know how to deal with both sides of it, winning and losing.

“There are a lot of things to learn because football changes. From one World Cup to the next, you draw a line and see what’s changed. World Cups give you the big picture. There have been physical tournaments, technical ones, some that have been organised very well... Right now, because of the media and TV, everyone knows everything, from the training sessions to the patterns of play, but the principles of the game are changing.

“That’s what you have to teach your kids about first: in defence, midfield or attack, these principles are very important. They lead you to understand combinations, mechanisms, synchronicities on the pitch, a lot of important things. There are great players who make unbelievable mistakes because they’ve never thought about these principles. We keep learning our whole lives, and even more so in football because it’s a short career. In eight or nine years, you have to learn absolutely everything.

“I find motivation in my passion for football, that’s for sure. I tried to stop last year because I’ve worked for 50 years without a break. I’ve never taken a sabbatical like other coaches – I’ve wanted to work. But when I tried to stop, it was impossible. I wanted to come back. I told myself there was so much I could still give to football, especially young players. So, I came back and I feel good being back at work.

“I’ve learned a lot from football. Discipline, interpersonal relationships... I grew up with football, so it’s taught me everything: human connection, how to go from a win to a defeat, because in football you can be the greatest today and a nobody tomorrow. It all depends on your last result, especially for coaches but for players too. Supporters don’t actually lose that much.

“Football has also taught me not to be too enthusiastic when you win and not too disappointed when you lose. You need to be very balanced because, if you’re not, you won’t last long in the game. At the beginning, I wasn’t like that. It took time, but that’s my advice to young coaches – know how to deal with both sides of it, winning and losing.

“There are a lot of things to learn because football changes. From one World Cup to the next, you draw a line and see what’s changed. World Cups give you the big picture. There have been physical tournaments, technical ones, some that have been organised very well... Right now, because of the media and TV, everyone knows everything, from the training sessions to the patterns of play, but the principles of the game are changing.

“That’s what you have to teach your kids about first: in defence, midfield or attack, these principles are very important. They lead you to understand combinations, mechanisms, synchronicities on the pitch, a lot of important things. There are great players who make unbelievable mistakes because they’ve never thought about these principles. We keep learning our whole lives, and even more so in football because it’s a short career. In eight or nine years, you have to learn absolutely everything.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

“I try to understand other people. I try to learn something so that I can maintain a normal and direct relationship. That’s very important. And, also, to respect and understand the culture of the country you’re coming to because there are cultural differences between countries, even when it comes to football.

"IF PLAYERS DON'T UNDERSTAND SOMETHING, THEY COME TO ME AND ASK, BUT IN GENERAL YOU CAN UNDERSTAND A LOT IN FOOTBALL. I ALSO USE DRAWINGS A LOT BECAUSE THEY'RE EASIER TO SEE, OR I USE VIDEOS"


“Certainly, being the globetrotting coach I am, you do things this way precisely because you want to be faced with different cultures, different people, different history, different geography… everything. You enjoy everything that’s important: learning, education, going to museums. Everywhere you go, it’s not just football that’s important. It’s important to build relationships with different people. You need to make a change so you don’t get stuck in a rut.

“It’s very difficult. It’s not for everyone. It depends on a lot of things. It’s a question of the way you’ve been brought up. I believe this helps you to adapt straight away wherever you go. It’s also important to speak the language of that country, but that’s not the most important thing. The most important is to know how to adapt to new conditions, how to learn, and to work extremely hard on that because, at the end of the day, it’s passion that has brought you there. That passion is what continues to push you forward.

“In football, players have to have that level of focus so they understand what they need to do, even if they don’t understand the words. When preparing for a game or analysing a game, I will only have it translated for a larger group. I rarely use an interpreter.

“If players don’t understand something, they come to me and ask, but in general you can understand a lot in football. I also use drawings a lot because they’re easier to see, or I use videos. You can see a lot more. For the players, it’s more important to see rather than hear what they have to do. When you see it, the images stay with you, as does the advice I give.

“We always talk to them, trying to keep everyone on the same page, not creating differences, not treating anyone differently from the others. The most important thing is that they’re football players and nothing else matters. Colour, culture and country don’t matter: all that matters is football. Football is a universal language. It’s understood wherever you go.”

“I find motivation in my passion for football, that’s for sure. I tried to stop last year because I’ve worked for 50 years without a break. I’ve never taken a sabbatical like other coaches – I’ve wanted to work. But when I tried to stop, it was impossible. I wanted to come back. I told myself there was so much I could still give to football, especially young players. So, I came back and I feel good being back at work.

“I’ve learned a lot from football. Discipline, interpersonal relationships... I grew up with football, so it’s taught me everything: human connection, how to go from a win to a defeat, because in football you can be the greatest today and a nobody tomorrow. It all depends on your last result, especially for coaches but for players too. Supporters don’t actually lose that much.

“Football has also taught me not to be too enthusiastic when you win and not too disappointed when you lose. You need to be very balanced because, if you’re not, you won’t last long in the game. At the beginning, I wasn’t like that. It took time, but that’s my advice to young coaches – know how to deal with both sides of it, winning and losing.

“There are a lot of things to learn because football changes. From one World Cup to the next, you draw a line and see what’s changed. World Cups give you the big picture. There have been physical tournaments, technical ones, some that have been organised very well... Right now, because of the media and TV, everyone knows everything, from the training sessions to the patterns of play, but the principles of the game are changing.

“That’s what you have to teach your kids about first: in defence, midfield or attack, these principles are very important. They lead you to understand combinations, mechanisms, synchronicities on the pitch, a lot of important things. There are great players who make unbelievable mistakes because they’ve never thought about these principles. We keep learning our whole lives, and even more so in football because it’s a short career. In eight or nine years, you have to learn absolutely everything.

Seeing sense
Insight

Seeing sense

Dynamo Kyiv coach Mircea Lucescu, 75, explains how an open mind keeps him at the top of the game – and why he’s never stopped learning

INTERVIEW Paolo Menicucci | PHOTOGRAPHY Jasper Jacobs

“I find motivation in my passion for football, that’s for sure. I tried to stop last year because I’ve worked for 50 years without a break. I’ve never taken a sabbatical like other coaches – I’ve wanted to work. But when I tried to stop, it was impossible. I wanted to come back. I told myself there was so much I could still give to football, especially young players. So, I came back and I feel good being back at work.

“I’ve learned a lot from football. Discipline, interpersonal relationships... I grew up with football, so it’s taught me everything: human connection, how to go from a win to a defeat, because in football you can be the greatest today and a nobody tomorrow. It all depends on your last result, especially for coaches but for players too. Supporters don’t actually lose that much.

“Football has also taught me not to be too enthusiastic when you win and not too disappointed when you lose. You need to be very balanced because, if you’re not, you won’t last long in the game. At the beginning, I wasn’t like that. It took time, but that’s my advice to young coaches – know how to deal with both sides of it, winning and losing.

“There are a lot of things to learn because football changes. From one World Cup to the next, you draw a line and see what’s changed. World Cups give you the big picture. There have been physical tournaments, technical ones, some that have been organised very well... Right now, because of the media and TV, everyone knows everything, from the training sessions to the patterns of play, but the principles of the game are changing.

“That’s what you have to teach your kids about first: in defence, midfield or attack, these principles are very important. They lead you to understand combinations, mechanisms, synchronicities on the pitch, a lot of important things. There are great players who make unbelievable mistakes because they’ve never thought about these principles. We keep learning our whole lives, and even more so in football because it’s a short career. In eight or nine years, you have to learn absolutely everything.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

“I find motivation in my passion for football, that’s for sure. I tried to stop last year because I’ve worked for 50 years without a break. I’ve never taken a sabbatical like other coaches – I’ve wanted to work. But when I tried to stop, it was impossible. I wanted to come back. I told myself there was so much I could still give to football, especially young players. So, I came back and I feel good being back at work.

“I’ve learned a lot from football. Discipline, interpersonal relationships... I grew up with football, so it’s taught me everything: human connection, how to go from a win to a defeat, because in football you can be the greatest today and a nobody tomorrow. It all depends on your last result, especially for coaches but for players too. Supporters don’t actually lose that much.

“Football has also taught me not to be too enthusiastic when you win and not too disappointed when you lose. You need to be very balanced because, if you’re not, you won’t last long in the game. At the beginning, I wasn’t like that. It took time, but that’s my advice to young coaches – know how to deal with both sides of it, winning and losing.

“There are a lot of things to learn because football changes. From one World Cup to the next, you draw a line and see what’s changed. World Cups give you the big picture. There have been physical tournaments, technical ones, some that have been organised very well... Right now, because of the media and TV, everyone knows everything, from the training sessions to the patterns of play, but the principles of the game are changing.

“That’s what you have to teach your kids about first: in defence, midfield or attack, these principles are very important. They lead you to understand combinations, mechanisms, synchronicities on the pitch, a lot of important things. There are great players who make unbelievable mistakes because they’ve never thought about these principles. We keep learning our whole lives, and even more so in football because it’s a short career. In eight or nine years, you have to learn absolutely everything.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

“I try to understand other people. I try to learn something so that I can maintain a normal and direct relationship. That’s very important. And, also, to respect and understand the culture of the country you’re coming to because there are cultural differences between countries, even when it comes to football.

"IF PLAYERS DON'T UNDERSTAND SOMETHING, THEY COME TO ME AND ASK, BUT IN GENERAL YOU CAN UNDERSTAND A LOT IN FOOTBALL. I ALSO USE DRAWINGS A LOT BECAUSE THEY'RE EASIER TO SEE, OR I USE VIDEOS"


“Certainly, being the globetrotting coach I am, you do things this way precisely because you want to be faced with different cultures, different people, different history, different geography… everything. You enjoy everything that’s important: learning, education, going to museums. Everywhere you go, it’s not just football that’s important. It’s important to build relationships with different people. You need to make a change so you don’t get stuck in a rut.

“It’s very difficult. It’s not for everyone. It depends on a lot of things. It’s a question of the way you’ve been brought up. I believe this helps you to adapt straight away wherever you go. It’s also important to speak the language of that country, but that’s not the most important thing. The most important is to know how to adapt to new conditions, how to learn, and to work extremely hard on that because, at the end of the day, it’s passion that has brought you there. That passion is what continues to push you forward.

“In football, players have to have that level of focus so they understand what they need to do, even if they don’t understand the words. When preparing for a game or analysing a game, I will only have it translated for a larger group. I rarely use an interpreter.

“If players don’t understand something, they come to me and ask, but in general you can understand a lot in football. I also use drawings a lot because they’re easier to see, or I use videos. You can see a lot more. For the players, it’s more important to see rather than hear what they have to do. When you see it, the images stay with you, as does the advice I give.

“We always talk to them, trying to keep everyone on the same page, not creating differences, not treating anyone differently from the others. The most important thing is that they’re football players and nothing else matters. Colour, culture and country don’t matter: all that matters is football. Football is a universal language. It’s understood wherever you go.”

“I find motivation in my passion for football, that’s for sure. I tried to stop last year because I’ve worked for 50 years without a break. I’ve never taken a sabbatical like other coaches – I’ve wanted to work. But when I tried to stop, it was impossible. I wanted to come back. I told myself there was so much I could still give to football, especially young players. So, I came back and I feel good being back at work.

“I’ve learned a lot from football. Discipline, interpersonal relationships... I grew up with football, so it’s taught me everything: human connection, how to go from a win to a defeat, because in football you can be the greatest today and a nobody tomorrow. It all depends on your last result, especially for coaches but for players too. Supporters don’t actually lose that much.

“Football has also taught me not to be too enthusiastic when you win and not too disappointed when you lose. You need to be very balanced because, if you’re not, you won’t last long in the game. At the beginning, I wasn’t like that. It took time, but that’s my advice to young coaches – know how to deal with both sides of it, winning and losing.

“There are a lot of things to learn because football changes. From one World Cup to the next, you draw a line and see what’s changed. World Cups give you the big picture. There have been physical tournaments, technical ones, some that have been organised very well... Right now, because of the media and TV, everyone knows everything, from the training sessions to the patterns of play, but the principles of the game are changing.

“That’s what you have to teach your kids about first: in defence, midfield or attack, these principles are very important. They lead you to understand combinations, mechanisms, synchronicities on the pitch, a lot of important things. There are great players who make unbelievable mistakes because they’ve never thought about these principles. We keep learning our whole lives, and even more so in football because it’s a short career. In eight or nine years, you have to learn absolutely everything.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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