Lionel Scaloni spoke about becoming the coach of the Argentina national team, experience in football and his inspirations.
Argentina national team coach Lionel Scaloni has won everythnig there is to win in football. The Argentine spoke in an interview with Marca and here is what he had to say about how in 2022 and in 2023, the IFFHS named him the best coach of the year and how his life has changed after winning the World Cup with Argentina after 36 years:
“Depending on how you take it, it changes or not. If you try to continue being the same, it’s just a prize. Life goes on, you have to continue living and training. But if you don’t have your head on straight you run the risk of it upsetting your plans, because you go from being a normal person to everyone thinking you are different. And we are not different, we are the same as always, with our problems. What is true is that we made many people in our country happy, and that fills us with pride. But life goes on.”
On what is the most beautiful detail he remembers from the World Cup celebrations:
“Infinite. The most important thing is always the anonymous people who tell you how they have lived that World Cup and what has happened to them. People with health problems or family problems, to whom it has made them change their perspective on things, and how they have been happy during that month, thanking you for it. In a country like ours, which is not going through a great moment, those things reach you and that is what makes you happier, beyond the personal or having achieved the World Cup. It gets to you.”
On if he had decided to become a coach when he was a player near the end of his career or after he had retired:
“In 2005, before the 2006 World Cup in Germany, I had an important injury playing for Dépor and after that, at the age of 27-28, my career was not what I wanted it to be. From then on I began to think that football was going to be more and more difficult, and I played for 10 more years, but I played with difficulty, knowing that it was bad and that it was difficult for me. During those 10 years I always thought about what I was going to be, I was more of an assistant coach on the field. That’s how it was at Lazio and Atalanta, I was always interested in the day-to-day and seeing how the coaches worked. I started to become aware much earlier than many players do. I was active and was already thinking as a coach. In 2011, six years before I retired, I already started the coaching course in Italy, and I finished it in Las Rozas.
Which coach during his playing career influenced him the most:
“All of them. I know we always say the same thing, but it’s the truth. They all influence us, for better or worse. In the end you take from those who have done things well and try to repeat them, and from those who did badly you try not to do that, you are marked by the things you would not do. What is very clear is that today as a coach you understand much more those coaches with whom you were angry when you were a player, and you realize that it is not the same, and that what you did not understand then you understand now. I have had great references and we all choose our way and the way we lead. I like a much more global way, not just thinking about football, but about everything that surrounds the footballer and above all the person.”
On which coach he sees right now as a reference, someone to learn from:
“I learn from those who do what we would like to do in the national team. I like Guardiola, I like De Zerbi, who is doing a great job at Brighton, I like Simone Inzaghi, I like Spalletti. And I certainly can’t forget Ancelotti, who today is the reference of what I want to be as a coach: a guy that everyone appreciates, very intelligent, who has won everything he has won for good reason. Carlo is a reference. And there is also Cholo, with whom we have had talks, we have gone to Madrid to visit him, he gave us a lot of inputs on what to do when we had just taken over the national team. They are two different ways of leading, but you use both in your method.”
He won the Copa America, Finalissima and the World Cup. If experience is overrated in football:
“The world of football is very different from any other. In another job maybe you do have to have experience, for example an engineer, but a football player who has played 21 years at a professional level, as is my case, to say that he has no experience is relative. Because in the end the dressing room is the same, the technical talks are the same? There are moments of difficulty where you can see how you perform. That’s where everyone says that experience comes in, in moments of difficulty, to know how you come out, but not all moments of difficulty are the same. In my case, there was a very experienced coach, Tavares, who called me one day after an Argentina-Uruguay match and told me: “You, who they say you have no experience, should tell those people that you have had experiences, which is very important in football”. That stuck with me and it is valid for all young coaches. I would tell them to move forward. If they have played and feel football, football is the only job that lets you be yourself without the need to have 20 years of coaching career.”
What is his best virtue as a coach: Tactical flexibility, connecting with his players or knowing how to adapt to them?
“I don’t like to say my virtues, but I think I adapt to what I have. And if I have to change, I change, I have no problems. Football belongs to the players and if I have a type of player, I play with that; and if later the good ones are others and I have to change, I change. I don’t insist on playing one way, because this is moving so much that today you have some good players and tomorrow you have others. And even more so in a national team, where you can constantly choose. If you insist on always playing one way with players who play another way, you can clash.”
If that happened to him with Argentina when he started as a coach:
“Yes, that was the merit of the entire coaching staff. We had an idea and then we changed it, we perfected it little by little. And in the end, the way we play now is not the same as it was five years ago.”
On how at the World Cup in Qatar, he was the counterbalance with his serenity on the side with the passion on the field:
“Yes, and when I played it was the opposite. I think it is important for the head of the group, especially in a country and in a national team like Argentina, where everyone expected so much from us, we had to have sanity. And in the hot moments, we had to have our heads. And even more knowing that in today’s football a goal means nothing until the match is over, that was always clear to us. In fact, it happened to us in two games, when we were tied in the final minutes, and one of the virtues of the team was that: to keep going, to keep going and not to lose focus on the objective. But it is important for the coach to be able to transmit tranquility at the right moments, that’s when you have to talk and take advantage of what you say.”