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The pride of Portugal

Published: Thursday 26 June 2003, 14.09CET
Carlos Queiroz's appointment as Real Madrid CF coach is good news for Portuguese football.

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Published: Thursday 26 June 2003, 14.09CET

The pride of Portugal

Carlos Queiroz's appointment as Real Madrid CF coach is good news for Portuguese football.
By Diogo Teixeira

"This brings honour and prestige to Portuguese football." How appropriate that Carlos Queiroz should have joined Real Madrid CF with the blessing of Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) chairman Gilberto Madaíl. Because Queiroz is very much a product of the Portuguese system.

Special talent
It was during a nine-year spell with the FPF that the 50-year-old Mozambique-born trainer developed the coaching skills that have landed him a job with arguably the world's most famous football club. Manchester United FC also covet that title, so the fact he is leaving Old Trafford for the Santiago Bernabéu indicates a special talent.

Hot ticket
It also means that a still relatively unknown figure - at least in the global terms these two clubs throw around - has captured the hottest ticket of the summer. "The Madrid offer is like one of those trains which come along once in a lifetime, that you simply have to catch," he said.

'Vast knowledge'
Queiroz has promised to work "25 hours a day", and it is that kind of drive that Sir Alex Ferguson, whom he served as assistant manager for a year, will miss. "Carlos showed great initiative," Ferguson said. "He is very disciplined and has a vast knowledge of modern football. In fact, he convinced me to change tactics several times and those things change a season."

Ferguson approval
Queiroz's input helped United reclaim the Premiership title from Arsenal FC, and some observers regarded him as an eventual successor to Ferguson when the Scot finally decided to stand down. Portuguese reports even suggested that Ferguson tried to persuade Queiroz to remain at Old Trafford with the promise of the manager's job in two years' time. But Ferguson himself acknowledged that the Madrid post was "too big a chance to turn down".

Hard act to follow
Not that Queiroz won't have a hard act to follow in the Spanish capital. Vicente del Bosque won two UEFA Champions League titles and two Spanish championships in his four seasons in charge. As well as replacing Del Bosque and winning over the fans, Queiroz may also be expected to introduce a more disciplined régime than that of his relaxed predecessor.

Job description
But that is the price of a job Madrid president Florentino Pérez described as "working with the best club in the world, with the best players in the world, and with the aim of playing the best football in the world". Certainly, it will be a far cry from the early days reorganising Portuguese youth football.

Generation game
Never a professional player, Queiroz had joined the FPF as a coach in 1984 and, by 1989, was winning the FIFA World Youth Championship in Saudi Arabia. A repeat success on home soil two years later - when Portugal beat Brazil on penalties in front of a 130,000 crowd at the Estádio da Luz - confirmed the arrival of the country's golden generation of players, the 'geração de ouro'.

World Cup failure
Those victories also brought 'o professor' national headlines and he was appointed Portugal coach for the 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. Yet he was fired - after five defeats in 23 games - after failing to reach the United States.

Sporting success
Next came a two-year stint with Sporting Clube de Portugal, where he lifted the Portuguese Cup and sold Luis Figo to FC Barcelona, before spells in the late 1990s with US Major League Soccer franchise the MetroStars and Japanese club Nagoya Grampus Eight. Before joining United last summer, he guided South Africa through their 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifiers but was dismissed before the tournament finals.

TV heaven
An eclectic education then, but one that has taken the professor to the top of the class. Yesterday he was the toast of Portugal, with national TV broadcaster RTP breaking its schedule to show an exclusive interview with the coach. For Carlos Queiroz, it was a taste of things to come.

Last updated: 01/07/03 20.24CET

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