Sport Soccer

Friday 22 November 2019

Villas-Boas emerging as the next 'Special One'

Jason Burt

It is 2023 and a leading newspaper announces the name of its new football columnist, Andre Villas-Boas.

The hottest young manager in European football is only half-joking.

After all, not only did he seriously consider a career in sports journalism, after he realised he would never be a professional footballer, but he will not be a coach forever. There is a cut-off point.

"Maybe when I am 45, I will make a contract with a newspaper," he said.

"My main objective in my career is to build something of which I am proud. I don't want to be in a coaching position for a long time because it's a position that drains you emotionally.

"It takes a lot from you, from your family and I don't want to live like that. I want to have a short, 10-12 year career. Fifteen years, maybe, maximum. And then leave. But during that time I want to leave some kind of mark."

Aged just 33, he has already done that. Villas-Boas scoffs at such talk, but he knows he is on a stellar path -- and this is just year two of his coaching career.

After saving Academica, a relatively obscure Portuguese club, from relegation in his first season, he has led Porto, his hometown club, to the league title and the semi-finals of the Europa League -- they face Villarreal this evening 5-1 up from the first leg -- and the Portuguese Cup final.

Villas-Boas has been in charge of 53 matches and has won 46, lost just three and is undefeated in the league.

Porto have won their last 14 matches in all competitions, scoring 130 goals this season.

Could he eventually emulate the man with whom he is so closely associated, the man whom he followed so assiduously until recently, the man who has garnered so many headlines in the last decade?

A certain Jose Mourinho.

Villas-Boas first worked with Mourinho at Porto, in 2002, and was given the key, if low-profile role of head of the opposition observation department, compiling detailed scouting reports. Villas-Boas followed Mourinho to Chelsea and then Inter Milan where, in October 2009, their associated ended.

Braga trail Benfica 1-2 in the other semi-final. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Villarreal v FC Porto,

Live, Setanta Ireland, 8.0

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