Luis Enrique Martínez García, PSG’s 53-year-old manager was born in Gijón, Asturias, in the green north of Spain. The former Barcelona coach is currently getting ready for his new role at the Parc des Princes.
Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Football Federation who appointed Luis Enrique as Spain’s coach in 2018, trusting his instinct, recently explained to El País what he expected from his work. “A recognisable national team, that will always have more of the ball than the opposition, that will play with boldness and be daring”.
Luis Enrique agrees with this formula, and believes in having “talented players, not very strong physically, but mischievous, clever, smart”. He would not give interviews with La Roja, only press conferences. For him, they are a lesser evil.
A former Barcelona executive explains: “He’s terrible at talking to journalists because he knows that, if he’s exposed in the media, he’s more likely to contradict himself”.
Luis Enrique is not your average coach. At 53, he is far from retirement and feels active, in his prime, with a career ahead of him. He is as fit as a fiddle and has cycled over 200 kilometres on occasions, and ran through the Moroccan desert with 10 kilos on his back and bloody feet. He loves surfing and has spent time in Australia with his family, where he waited for hours for the perfect wave at Noosa Beach. In his life away from football, he has also completed a marathon in under three hours.
Andoni Zubizarreta, the former goalkeeper and then the sporting director who appointed him as Barcelona’s head coach in 2014, once said: “Football is a game of uncertainty, the worst team can beat you at the last minute. And the player doesn’t want uncertainty, he wants certainty. As a coach you have to convince the player, to eliminate some of that uncertainty. And Luis does that very well”.
With the national team, no ego other than his own was allowed. Addicted to anything new, a relentless reader, he has applied big data analysis to his team’s strategy and tactics. He has experts working alongside him, whose job is to observe how his team plays and how their opponents play. Nothing escapes him. Anyone who doesn’t play with the required intensity is dropped from the team.
The Asturian tactician has returned to club management and PSG have a top coach on board.
Kieran Quaile | GSFN