Josep Maria Minguella: I discovered Leo Messi only through video

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Josep Maria Minguella, a football agent with 40+ years of experience and the representative of the names like Maradona, Stoichkov, Rivaldo, Guardiola, the person who discovered Leo Messi, talks exclusively about agent’s business and life, the role of new technologies, the Minguella Challenge on Fieldoo

You’re famous as an agent of many top class players, such as Maradona, Stoickov, Rivaldo, Romario, Guardiola, and as well as the agent who discovered Lionel Messi! How did it all happen?
Back then we hadn’t been operating through the internet on a daily basis as it had not been developed yet in all parts of the world. Because of that, I had to rely on videos I received from Rosario, where Leo Messi was playing. After seeing some video tapes of his games and highlights I decided to invite him and his entire family to Barcelona, so the people from the club could meet him. But the truth is I hadn’t seen Messi playing before coming to Barcelona and so hadn’t anyone from the club. The only source of information we had, were videos. The first thing I noticed about him? From the very first moment you could see some technical skills which were really different from the other kids of his generation.

With over 40 years of experience in the business: how does it look, a working day in life of a football agent?
An agent is a bit like a doctor – always ready to work and act. An agent’s schedule is specific – you never know where you’ll find your next opportunity – it may happen in the restaurant or in a shop … in any place where you can act and make deals if you meet players, club staff or other agents. One of the most beautiful things about this job is that it requires absolute dedication. It needs to be a happy job, you have to love it; to attend games on the stadium, negotiate with clubs, represent your clients, travel etc.

Let’s move to the new technologies – how do you see the importance of internet in general and a football network like Fieldoo. Do you think they can have a strong influence and an important role?
Absolutely! Internet has totally changed the way a football agent does his/her job and the transfer industry. There are no more boundaries and limits – you can see, observe and connect with way more players (and other people) then years ago, as you’re not limited to physical presence. Thanks to the internet – and a service like Fieldoo – an agent’s job is easier and more effective.
All of this has totally changed the perspective of an agent’s work. But not only agent’s, also clubs’ and of everybody who’s actively involved in this industry. Not so many years ago you had to go around the world if needed, to see and meet players, while nowadays you can do it through the internet – with videos, detailed information and all you need to learn about the player you’re interested in.

Why did you decide to participate in the Minguella Challenge – a way of searching for the new Messi through Fieldoo?
I expect an unforgettable and a positive experience for all the football players who will participate in the Minguella Challenge. I’m happy to be part of it and to help some of those players who’ll have a trial – in the 1st and 2nd Spanish division – to finally get a club. I believe there are lots of them who dream about this and it would be really great to make those dreams come true.

What are the characteristics that players need to have to aspire of getting a trial and perhaps a contract in the Spanish La Liga or Segunda division club?
A footballer needs to have some physical, technical and psychological characteristics which can help to develop his football, a sport that he loves. For me the most important thing is that all these skills are supported by great energy a player puts in and love for this sport. If a player is not able to love football and develop all of this, there’s certainly no way to succeed.

Let’s move back to football agent’s business. What are the skills an agent needs to have?
First of all, a football agent needs certain knowledge of football to define the qualities, skills and conditions of the player. Furthermore, an agent need lots of information about the needs on the market, the requests of the clubs, most wanted positions of the players in a certain period etc.
The other thing is negotiation skills. An agent represents a player and negotiates with the club (and others sometimes) about the contract with a clear objective to get the best possible conditions for his client – a footballer. Last but not least: an agent needs to be a trustworthy person and responsible towards the player he/she represents.

Where do you see the major problems of football agents nowadays?
I have a feeling it’s becoming a bit irregular and uncontrolled. In one way there are “big” agents who do business among themselves, and on the other hand almost everyone can be an agent. Everything should be more equilibrated, equal and regulated by the governing bodies as well – not everyone can represent a player and negotiate with the club about the contracts. The most important thing is responsibility – to the player, club … – and every single agent should be aware of it.

Last question: what’s your advice to someone who is just starting with the business of a football agent?
Dedication is very important. Watching the games of kids or lower level teams should never be a problem. Again, always search for the right information and build up your network. I’d also recommend joining an experienced agent to learn the business and to see how it works. When you pass this phase, you’re ready to start working on your own.
Before ending I’d like to expose one thing which I consider really important: a football agent should never lie to a player or any other person. You need to tell the truth to your client although sometimes it can hurt. But never mind, be direct and honest and this is how your reputation will grow and how you’ll build a great relationship with footballers you represent.

Are you a footballer and want to enter the Challenge?

 

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