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“It is not easy to have good principles in football”

Luís Boa Morte is a former Portuguese international player with a long career in England, where he has represented clubs such as Arsenal, Southampton, Fulham, and West Ham. After coaching Maccabi Haifa and Everton, he recently became the assistant coach of Fulham, the Championship club that strives for a place in the Premier League in the 2022-2023 season.

In this conversation led by Nuno Milheiro, the 44-year-old coach talks about his experience playing abroad, his coaching inspirations, and the role of independent scouts within the technical teams.

At just 20 years old, the former winger left Sporting CP for Arsenal in 1997 and had the opportunity to experience a golden age for the gunners, alongside names like Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars, Patrick Vieira, Nicolas Anelka, and David Seaman.

These are the kinds of dreams that you have, but you never know if you are going to accomplish them. The Portuguese television used to show just the FA Cup final and that was not enough for us. Few Portuguese players had been there before me. It was good for me. If you ask me “do you think you are going to be there 15 years playing?” I would say no. I consider myself half British and Portuguese”, he said.

After two successful seasons, during which he won the Premier League, the FA Cup, and two FA Community Shields, he was transferred to Southampton to play more regularly. The context change did not jolt his mindset but did not go as planned.

It was good to have a chance to be playing and participating in more games. At the end of the day that was all I was after. Things worked well at the beginning but then, at some stage, collapsed. A new manager came in with new ideas, and then things were not in my favor. You just have to move on, with your life, with your career”.

Despite the lively rivalries between English clubs – particularly in London – Luís has always managed to be respected by all the supporters of the teams he represented due to his outstanding work rate. “I went to have the sorted things and make sure that I do all my work the way the supporters were expecting me to do. I have always tried my best on the field and never went on thinking “I could or should have done…”. Everything I did was what I was capable of. I have always been loyal to them”.

During his career as a football player, he worked with renowned coaches such as Arsène Wenger, Glenn Hoddle, Jean Tigana, Avram Grant, Gianfranco Zola, Luiz Felipe Scolari, and Jesualdo Ferreira, who inspired him.

I would like to get a little bit of everyone [in his coaching style]. If you are clever enough, you pick bits here and there. Coaching is like that. You learn and watch people. Do not think that you know everything. The day you think that it is halfway through for you to collapse”.

Following his retirement, Luís had the opportunity to collaborate as a scout for Arsenal, but being a coach is unequivocally the activity that fulfills him more. “I am studying and working towards that. It is not easy to have good principles in football, but I try to. You got to be true to your words from the beginning until the end”.

When asked about the possibility of integrating independent scouts on his technical team, the current assistant coach admits to prioritizing the existing club’s scouting structure and stressed that trust is crucial for a healthy work environment. “I would work with the club scouts. If I was unemployed and thought I was going to get a team and needed players for a certain system or league, then I would hire independent scouts. In a club, if you hire an independent scout as well and gain information from both sides, the club scout may think “why did he hire someone? Is it because he does not trust me?”. That might not be the case, but he would always put the question mark on himself.

When you work with people and there is no trust, one day things will collapse for sure”, he concluded.

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Researcher, journalist, copywriter, entrepreneur, scout and, above all, communicator.

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