The two coaches in Thursday's final, Tony Gustavsson of Tyresö FF and VfL Wolfsburg's Ralf Kellermann, sat down with UEFA.com to explain their football philosophies.
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Tony Gustavsson, Tyresö coach (profile)
I read a lot of leadership literature. I think it's very interesting and, you know, I spent six and a half years of university study and I will never ever be able to pay my loan back! But, I like the development, by myself as well, to develop as a coach. I read a lot of books by John Wooden, the basketball coach in UCLA, from the USA. There's a quote for success, it says: "Success is peace of mind, knowing you did your very best to become the best you're capable of becoming." I always try to get one day better and not one day older. He's an inspirational force.
When it comes to soccer, Tord Grip, the Swedish coach, has been a mentor for me early on in my coaching. His international journey as well, but also his personality – to keep both feet on the ground even though he is successful – has been inspiring for me.
I have some really strong personalities that are willing to sacrifice what needs to be sacrificed to reach that success and that goes for everything from eating and sleeping to practice. But not only having that vision, or having that goal, but also having that passion to play with love and play with enthusiasm, and bring that to the pitch so it can be seen by the supporters, it can be felt by the team-mates.
Players like Caroline Seger, Marta, Verónica Boquete, Linda Sembrant, Lisa Dahlkvist, Christen Press. You can mention a lot of them who [play] with spirit and passion, and I think that's probably one of the best assets we have. If you look at the tactical and soccer [side] of it, it's the speed. That speed combined with technique. And that's also why we play very attacking-minded soccer.
[The UEFA Women's Champions League is special because of] the media attention, the prestige that the tournament has started to give it. I mean, talking to the players worldwide, I have the Spanish national team captain in the team, I have the Danish captain in my team, I have the Swedish captain in my team, I have the best Brazilian in my team, I have Americans in my team. Talking to all these players, and hearing what their team-mates talk about, one of the most [prestigious] titles you can win today is the Champions League. Some of the players are here due to the fact we said we are going to build a team that can fight for the title. That's why they are here. They're ambitious. They want to win that finest of titles.
Same with me. It was a friend of mine who said: "Tony, you know you can be the first one to win three titles in three years in women's football? You won the Olympic gold medal [as 2012 US assistant coach], you won the Swedish league and then you can win the Champions League in three years. No one has done that before." I didn't know that. And of course that motivated me a little bit more in coming to the final.
Tony Gustavsson was speaking to Andy Brassell.
Ralf Kellermann, Wolfsburg coach (profile)
I think we play very attractive football. We play very offensively, we always try to make it difficult for the opponent. We play a very good counterattacking game, which is important. We always want to play good football, which is not always that easy in this league where the opponents are fairly deep-lying when they play us. Still, we have developed in such a way that we can also push our game through against deep-lying teams. I think we have flexibility in our tactical varieties, since we can play different systems, but my motto is, although I do push for the offensive game as well, to play an attractive game.
[Having to follow a year when Wolfsburg won everything] It should also be very clear that we had a fairly firm grip on that aspect of having three titles. It was different from previous years, where there were one or two players who clearly had more injuries. Take Nadine Kessler and Lena Goessling, those are two players who have played nearly every game this year – those players, after four trophies [including UEFA Women's EURO 2013 with Germany] and hardly any vacation, needed to have a little break at the beginning of the season and relaxing a little. For instance Josephine Henning and Luisa Wensing, both of them were injured even though they did not play much. That is completely normal.
In that sense, it was very difficult to get into this season. That was already clear to us beforehand, and we maybe hoped not to drop those few points here and there. But maybe that also helped us to gain new focus. Now, however, the team has been back in form since October, and we have gained control over those unavoidable problems. We are on the right track now.
For me, it is really the case that for the Champions League final, or for the final or penultimate league games, I feel equally excited. I always say: "No effort without pressure," so when the whistle blows, I feel fairly calm. I try to enjoy it a little. Especially when I think about games in a big stadium – excitement, yes, nervousness, no, because you have to function at the highest level. That's maybe also why we react in every game we play, maybe with a substitution. You have to be focused.
The worst time, for me, is really before the final team meeting, because that is the most important time, when you are with the players for the last time and when everyone is still open to listening. That isn't as possible from the touchline. That meeting before the match takes precedence, everything has to be included. That's why I am most nervous there, and also excited, hoping I have transferred what I wanted to share. After that, the nervousness goes and I can be excited and focused for the game.
Every coach should be part of his team. That's extremely important, to become one with the team, obviously. Especially in women's football, I would say that first and foremost, communication is important.
I think what helped me most when I was young was having a role model. There is nothing better. In Wolfsburg, we now finally have examples of players who have achieved something, who people can look up to. You should really seek out examples, try to imitate them, of course without giving up too much of our own personality. Simply look at those players, what they have to do for it. The best example we have right now is our captain, Nadine Kessler, or Martina Müller. What they sacrifice and what they do on top of all the training in terms of the way they work, how they keep trying to get further, those are the best examples. Taking them as role models, you can see there is a lot to do to reach that level.
Ralf Kellermann was speaking to Markus Juchem.