“I tried to absorb as much as possible as a player and, within my ideas, to use what I think is most beneficial for what I want to see in my teams.”
Armando Teixeira, who soccer baptized as Petit, was an internationally successful player. For the National Team of Portugal participated in world and European cups, and in clubs like Boavista, Benfica and Cologne he won cups, championships and became an unavoidable reference.
A player well known for his intensity, Petit reveals in this interview how much his player career has influenced what he is today as a coach and what are the secrets behind his success as a coach in saving teams from relegation.
RM: Petit, you were a very successful soccer player, both at the level of clubs, and in the National Team, with participations in two World Cups and in two European Championships. How has this career influenced what you are today as a coach?
Petit: Obviously what I am as a coach has many nuances of what my experience as a player was. Luckily I played in big clubs, won titles, participated in major international events, and it gave me even more baggage, more tools for my coaching job. There were many coaches, many teammates, many philosophies of game and training, many different personalities. I tried to absorb as much as possible and, within my ideas, to use what I think is most beneficial for what I want to see in my teams.
RM: Camacho, Trapattoni, Ronald Koeman, Fernando Santos, Christoph Daum, Scolari… They are all world class coaches with whom you worked as a player. How did they influence you and among them from whom you retain more ideas for your current role?
Petit: It was absolutely fantastic to be able to work and learn from so many elite coaches. I am blessed by this, and I am very proud to be able to look back and remember the times when I worked with them. I keep interesting details of all of them, but I am Petit. I have my personality, my ideas, my philosophy. We are all result of our experiences, so of course Petit as a coach is also the result of the experience with these incredible coaches, but above all I am myself. And I want to be recognized for it as a coach, just as I was in the past as a player.
RM: What are you goals as a Coach?
Petit: In the same way that I grew up as a player in which, step by step, I represented big clubs, where i was able to represent my country – which is the maximum for a player – I played abroad, which was also a dream, as a coach I just want to do it the same way, step by step without taking a step higher than the leg. I want to evolve from day to day. In these years I was in projects that have struggled not to relegate, but the most important thing is to feel happy and that the ideas that I have for football are always improving.
RM: You were known to be a virile and intense player. Do you like your teams in the image of what Petit was like as a football player?
Petit: There is a misconception that I was too much aggressive in the field – in a negative way, and that I also like my teams to be like that. What a great lie and mistake. I like intense teams, with or without possession, that know always how to react to the loss of the ball, but I also like intelligent teams that are involved and happy with our philosophy and game idea. I want my teams to play good football, but sometimes you also must understand the environment that you are facing.
RM: After six seasons in his coaching career you managed to do almost miracles to save teams from relegation. What was the secret?
Petit: First of all I want to say that I do not like, nor do I want the label of the savior. Often, the context of appearing opportunities in clubs struggling in the league table is the reality for many coaches early in their careers, and I was no exception. However, what happened was that I embraced all these challenges with great ambition and, above all, with the firm conviction in my work, in my technical team, as well as in my players. Sometimes the results do not match what we are doing, because the players also took time to adapt to our ideas and game model, but gradually all my teams began to believe. It is not easy to work on defeats, to always be moralizing the team because we could only look up – sometimes we had no one behind us – but we had to always believe and work harder each day. And this, combined with the competence of the players, the technical staff and the structure of the clubs, culminated, with great effort, in avoiding relegation in several seasons.
But the most important thing that I want to point out was the quality of the work done and the competence of everyone involved. It was very important to have players that feel happy about what they were doing on a day-to-day basis and make them believe that we could achieve our goals.
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