After Austria were beaten in their opening Group A game at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship, coach Hermann Stadler was not quite ready to delve deep into the history books in search of good omens.
Yet the former FC Salzburg player told UEFA.com he does harbour fond memories of Slovakia, from when he scored against DAC 1904 Dunajská Streda in his team's 4-0 aggregate first round triumph, the first step on the road to the 1993/94 UEFA Cup final.
"It was a few years ago. If it is an omen, great, but I don't think we should look back at my generation," laughed Stadler, who hoped his team's 1-0 defeat to the host nation on Sunday would merely prove a disappointing prelude to future success, just as a 1-0 loss to the Republic of Ireland was in the elite round.
"We have to look to the future, or at least only as far back as the elite round when we also lost the first game, and picked up six points after that," said the 51-year-old, whose side defeated Serbia and 2012 semi-finalists Georgia to top Group 2. "If we have the luck to do that again, we'll be really happy and can be extremely positive about the future."
The group's other opening-day victors, Sweden, provide the next hurdle for Stadler's squad to overcome. Defeat in Dubnica nad Vahom on Wednesday could leave the team with only third place in the section, and the not insignificant consolation of a place at the upcoming FIFA Under-17 World Cup, to play for. If the young Austrians require advice on how to approach a virtually must-win game, they need look no further than the man who sends them out onto the pitch.
"My playing career was longer than my coaching career, 16 or 17 years. I can give good tips, how to handle a certain situation, how to handle the pressure," said Stadler, who beat then Karlsruher SC goalkeeper Oliver Kahn to send Salzburg into the final on away goals nearly two decades ago. That proved the highlight of playing days during which he also collected a trio of Austrian titles and cups as well as a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup runners-up medal.
The silverware is a reminder of glories achieved when he was still strapping on shin pads and lacing up boots, but the invaluable know-how garnered from training sessions and team talks from esteemed tacticians like Otto Barić remains a precious resource pertinent to Stadler's present. "As a player you can pick up things from every coach. You see what you should do, and also see some things that you think you should not do as a coach."
That nous was initially put to good use during three years in charge of Salzburg's amateur team before the opportunity to broaden his horizons with the Austrian Football Association (ÖFB) proved too good for Stadler to turn down, particularly as it fit snugly into his plans for a career in the dugout.
"I wanted to start with youth football, gain experience, and learn as a coach," he explained. "It is a great opportunity to work with the best talents in the country, and it is extremely enriching when you see the players progress. It's really a great job, and it is fantastic for me to be able to work with these boys."
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