Top coaches ask footballers to develop leadership skills

Dubai, Dec 29 (IANS) Italian coaches Fabio Capello, Antonio Conte and Belgium’s national team manager Marc Wilmots said that football professionals in national teams can no longer rely on their playing qualities alone and have to develop leadership capacities to reach the top and remain there.

The three elite coaches shared their views on the future of football stars during a joint workshop titled “How to stay at the top” on the second and last day of the 10th Dubai Sports Council conference here on Monday.

Capello, 69, said that young and experienced players should never stop learning and respect the coach.

“You must make the players understand what it means to play with a national jersey. Then you must identify the potential leaders in the team,” said Capello who was sacked as Russia’s coach in July this year. He criticised that “sometimes the media create fake stars”.

Wilmots recommended young hopefuls to take their mission seriously and always think of their responsibility towards the team, coach and fans.

“I do not like to have comedians in a squad. Don’t be manipulative, play the match professionally, be real players,” said the 46-year-old former player.

Belgium climbed to top of FIFA rankings for the first time in November after the ‘Red Devils’ defeated Israel 3-1 in the Euro 2016 qualifying match on October 13.

In his speech, Italy’s head coach Conte stressed the importance of the close relation between a leading player and the coach.

“A talented player can convey the idea of the coach. He is a man who shows respect to his teammate and coach,” said the head trainer of the ‘Squadra Azzurra’.

All three coaches agreed that sustainable physical fitness is of utmost importance to remain on top. Capello revealed how he struggled as coach of Real Madrid from 2006 to 2007 when he urged Brazilian star player Ronaldo to reduce his weight from his then 96 kg to 84 kg.

“Eighty-four kilograms was his weight when he won the 2002 World Cup in Japan. Unfortunately, Ronaldo never regained the discipline to get rid of his overweight and this had a bad influence on the entire team spirit,” said Capello.

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