By Onofre Costa
It was two men in the news in recent weeks that captured people's attention on the first day of the I Sports and Entertainment International Congress in Portugal's second city, Porto.
Despite the interest in speeches from a number of sports experts - including representatives from European clubs, corporations, marketing companies, UEFA and UEFA EURO 2004™ - the addresses by Carlos Queiroz and Jorge Valdano, coach and sporting director of Real Madrid CF respectively, proved particular highlights in the congress in Porto's former customs building.
Queiroz, who moved to Madrid from his assistant's position at Manchester United FC last week, spoke on the difficulties in coping with the particular pressures of top-level football. "At the beginning of our careers everything looks easy," he said. "It seems that all we have to do is coach and hope to win trophies. But then we realise we have to be experts not only in tactics and football but also in psychology, education, new technologies, public relations, human resources, etc, etc.
People except us to be Supermen."
'Obsessed with victory'
The Portuguese coach also suggested there was more to the game than triumph at all costs. "Our society is obsessed with victory," he said. "All that matters is win, win, win. Sometimes people let go of their ideals and principles in order to achieve victory at any cost and forget what I think are the two most important things in football - the human being and the process we have to go through in order to eventually succeed."
Valdano, on the other hand, called for players to be sheltered from off-the-field pressures such as marketing and public relations. He said: "Football is a very primitive sport regarding rules, the players' mentality and the fans' support. Very few things have changed in these aspects during the last century. On the other hand, football is one of the most modern sports if we think of the development of the activities around football.
I think we have to make sure the pressure from these subsidiary fields does not interfere with the quality of the match. Because that is the most important thing."
Madrid's sporting director outlined three things any team needed to succeed - a strong club culture to guide new players and coaches, high morale and continued ambition. Of the first factor, he said: "I was 28 when I arrived in Madrid and won my first trophy. I was filled with joy. And then, in the dressing room, [José Antonio] Camacho who was captain at the time proposed a toast to the next year's victory. I asked, 'Shouldn't we be celebrating this win?' His answer was illuminating. 'You do not know Real Madrid'."
Team spirit, meanwhile, should prevent fear creeping in. "Mistakes are natural when you take chances," he said. "It is better to make a mistake than not to risk a bit. And as for motivation, the coach is crucial, knowing what role to hand each player."
Queiroz, though, admitted that his task was not easy. "When I wake up every morning and read the newspaper and turn on the TV,
I wonder how can I coach top teams when everyone thinks they know better than me," he said. "Every coach has to deal with this and I think the best way is to be firm without being a dictator, be tolerant without being permissive."
Both Queiroz and Valdano know that football is no longer only about scoring goals, but in the end everything still spins around that magic moment when the ball hits the net.
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