Clement revelling in rare role with Real
It has been nearly 30 years since an English coach led a team into a European Cup final. Tomorrow at the Estadio da Luz there will at least be one on the bench as Paul Clement takes his place alongside Carlo Ancelotti for Real Madrid.
From 1977 to 1985, leading up to the ban on English clubs from European competition following the Heysel tragedy, there was only one season there wasn't a Bob Paisley, a Brian Clough, a Tony Barton or a Joe Fagan on the bench for the biggest club game of the season, while in 1986 Terry Venables watched his Barcelona side lose to Steaua Bucharest.
Now, however, Clement, who also worked with Ancelotti at Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, is an English rarity, plying his trade at the very top.
"It's amazing. I never thought it would go this way, but when opportunity arose, I took it," he says.
He is learning from a manager he believes is massively underrated. "It's Carlo's seventh final. He gives us exactly what everyone needs in a high-pressure situation like this – he's been there and done that, many times over," Clement says.
"If you pick two or three of the best coaches in the world, Carlo has to be one of those, but he's a very humble guy. There is no ego. He sees himself on the same level as the players and that opens up communication."
Clement's detailed analysis of opponents is one of the reasons why he has remained in team Carlo beyond their group dismissal from Chelsea. Does he see a way to undo Atletico Madrid, the only side in the competition who have not lost a single game?
"They defend deep, but when they get the ball they are effective at moving it forward," Clement says. "They don't just punt it, they play combinations and work their way down the field."