SC Braga coach Domingos Paciência's reputation will be on the line in more ways than one as his side take on FC Porto in the UEFA Europa League final; lose and a season of great work goes unrewarded, win and he risks upsetting fans who once saw him as an icon.
On Wednesday Paciência will become the first coach to face a side he once represented as a player in a UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League final – he can expect at least a pang of emotion. After all, the 42-year-old was no bit-part player at the Estádio das Antas; he came through the club's youth ranks and spent 12 years of his 14-year career with his final opponents.
Paciência – then known as Domingos – was paired with Bulgarian international Emil Kostadinov in what is regarded as one of the finest striking partnerships in the club's history. He won six league titles and five Portuguese Cups at Porto, and was Portugal's top scorer in 1995/96 with 25 goals. After retiring, he went on to coach Porto's B-team in 2004/05.
Upsetting former employers
Paciência's situation, then, is unprecedented in UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League terms. Yet three coaches have gone into the final knowing what it is to have their opponents' fans behind them from previous managerial roles. Luigi Simoni overcame S.S. Lazio with FC Internazionale Milano in 1997/98, Juande Ramos's Sevilla FC got the better of RCD Espanyol in 2006/07, and 12 months later Dick Advocaat guided FC Zenit St Petersburg to victory over Rangers FC.
Neither Simoni (Lazio coach from 1985-86) nor Ramos (Espanyol boss in 2002) had a strong association with their old sides, but the same couldn't be said of Advocaat. He led the Light Blues from 1998-2002 and won domestic doubles in his first two seasons at Ibrox.
The Dutchman was prone to refer to Rangers as "my team" in the run-up to the 2008 final, but as Zenit's players held him aloft following their 2-0 victory, his allegiance was clear. "Winning a prize like this doesn't happen very often in your life," he said, once they had let him down. "I have won all sorts of championships in my career but never a European trophy, so it's a special prize."
Two coaches have gone on to coach sides they defeated in the UEFA Cup final. Friedel Rausch's 1979/80 success with Eintracht Frankfurt did not stop him becoming VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach coach in 1998, endearing himself with fans at his new club by saving them from relegation before a disastrous start to the following season triggered his departure.
Bert van Marwijk led Feyenoord to a 3-2 win against Borussia Dortmund in the 2001/02 final, before leaving the Rotterdam side to join the German club two years later. However, after two and a half seasons of mediocre performances, they parted company December 2006.
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