José Antonio Gómez de la Fuente has been working as a youth team coach in one of the most renowned football club in the world – Atletico Madrid. He works as a youth team coach and regularly manages and collaborates in different youth formation schools projects of the esteemed club. He represents a modern type of a football coach, by being formally educated, multilingual, ambitious and eager for new knowledge and training approaches and perfectionist on a football pitch. Currently he enjoyes in latest successes of his young “protegees” at Atletico Madrid, but his ambition and drive for new things precede the borders of Spain, thus seeking new opportunities in Europe and beyond. He shared some “inside business knowledge” with us.
Q: How long have you been a football coach?
A: I have worked in Spanish Youth Football for 8 years. Five of them in Club Atlético de Madrid School and I also have one year of experience in AC Milan Academy in Ávila, a town close to Madrid. Also, I am fluent in Football Specific Terminology in English for Coaching Courses in Federation of Madrid.
Q: As a football coach, what is the first thing that you notice in a young player? What are the things/qualities that attract you to focus on a player?
A: I believe in the skill of real presence on the field. I mean a player that knows what to do, where to stay, when to run and how to put in practice what his coach said. It’s difficult, but some young players can show it by themselves or on their own.
Q: If you have to expose a few essential characteristics/qualities of a football player, which are they?
A: Nowadays, the most important skill is the velocity. A good player has to be quick both in decisions and actions. Speed for driving through the ball, but also in thinking the next pass when receiving.
Q: What about the player’s character? Do you see it as an essential quality and if you do, why?
A: As I told you before, is very difficult to find a player that shows presence without attending to his coach’s demands. But when you see a captain shouting orders to his mates, a winger that tries a dribbling, a central defender tackling or carrying his line where he decides, or even a link moving and asking for the ball, you appreciate how important is the character a player must have when he is growing.
Q: Do you think that today, thanks to the internet, connectivity, information, etc, is it easier for players to progress in terms of their sports career?
A: I’m sure this is essential. Internet can offer them connectivity with other players from all over the world and information about methods of work that the clubs are carrying out. A project like yours at Fieldoo could be amazing; players should consider it as a positive step.
Q: …and another quite similar question. How can players use the internet and social networks to progress, to take their sports career to another level?
A: Maybe the Internet can also give them clues to which biographies to follow and, of course, methods of training, techniques, and advice on nutrition etc. Social networks are the key to connect their profiles.
Q: If you were a scout, how would you identify THE player. What would be the first things you would have noticed in a player and what would you?
A: I would go to a game. After looking at who is the player that makes his team win, I would go to study him at training for a week. Later, I would try to get to know his family and learn more on his background.
Q: As a coach, who were your idols, and what could you have learned from them?
A: I grew up in Football with the wonderful period of FC Barcelona trained by Johan Cruyff. He has been my role model. Of course, we are talking about theAjaxSchool. I enjoyed a lot the teams of Louis Van Gaal and the last ones of Pep Guardiola.
What did I learn from them? The perfect combination of the pressing style (good examples were the teams of Arrigo Sacchi and Marcelo Lippi) and the good taste for construction in attack.
Q: For conclusion, what is your advice to young players? How to progress and achieve success in their sport career?
A: Fight for your dream. There are a lot of obstacles: hard injuries, bad decisions, studies and best years for partying… But the main obstacle is they themselves. I cannot understand a player with high skills that doesn’t train more and more those skills every day. An action in training is an action that will happen in competition.