I always wanted to walk my own path, without a leg-up from anyone else.
Even if you’ve spent your whole life playing football, you’re not ready to train a big club at the very start of your coaching career. That’s why I decided to begin my journey at the bottom, in the Portuguese third flight. União de Lamas, Lusitânia, Espinho: these are small teams with modest aims, but they made me the manager I am today.
I had started taking coaching courses at 28, six years before retiring as a player. And I had spent time as assistant to José Couceiro at Vitória de Guimarães, Porto and Belenenses. But my real education came in those first few years out on my own.
Honestly, having that time and space away from the spotlight was vital for me. I was able to develop my own methodology, and not just copy what I had studied in the classes. I learned lessons that have stuck with me ever since: how to manage a group, how to find solutions for certain problems, how to develop my process and philosophy.
There were some really difficult moments, but they taught me to dig in – and to be creative.