Reims Belgian-English football manager Will Still admits he can’t believe he was successful against Paris Saint-Germain at the age of 30.
Belgian-born Still was named manager of the Ligue 1 side in October as the club looked like relegation candidates, and he has since led them to a 13-game unbeaten streak.
This included a draw against European giants PSG on January 29, with loanee Arsenal player Folarin Balogan scoring a spectacular equalizer six minutes into stoppage time.
Still is only in his second full-time coaching job having previously taken charge of Beerschot in Antwerp, and is still accepting such a rise.
“It’s hard to put into words. Ridiculous I think,” he said on Drivetime.
“If you had told me about five or six years ago, I would be here telling my defenders how to defend against [Kylian] Mbappe, [Lionel] Messi and Neymar, I think I probably would have said punch me in the face because that sounds completely stupid.
“But once you’re involved in the game and you see the stadium and the warm-up starts you kinda forget about it, I know that sounds stupid but it’s true. But the little boy in the inside of me stood there with stars in my eyes.
So impressed with Still are Reims, they’re happy to pay €25,000 [£22,000] well every time he coaches the team.
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This is down to a lack of qualifications, with Still currently studying for his UEFA professional license, but as he explains, it’s not for lack of trying.
He said, “People say, ‘Why didn’t he do it before? Why didn’t he do this or that? Well, I’m only 30 and couldn’t have taken the course sooner.
“Normally it’s only for ex-pros or ex-coaches so I just got into it because it’s the normal path I have to follow.
“I’ve only just started to be honest the club asked for a waiver to avoid fines and said ‘it’s stupid’ but at the moment every game I’m responsible for the club gets fined I think it’s €25,000.
Born in Belgium to English parents, Still, a West Ham fan, admits England feels like home and would love a job in the Premier League one day.
Asked about his Premier League aspirations, he said: “Of course I do. But I’m only 30 and I think I have enough time in front of me.
“Coming home would be one of my goals in the years to come.”
His early emergence saw him linked with the Football Manager series of computer games, but suggestions that he went straight from that to coaching are incredibly outlandish.
“I was a football fan from the start, it just had to be football,” he began.
“I went to university in England, I was born in Belgium and I’ve lived in Belgium all my life, but I went to university in England and studied a football coaching diploma and that’s where I got the buzz.
“Football Manager was obviously part of my daily routine, but I started coaching at Preston North End, which was part of our college degree, and the rest is history.
“I had an interview with Coach’s Voice and Football Manager and I just basically said I spent hours playing it like everyone else you spend hours smashing the space bar until around three in the morning, but that’s only part of the kid I was and the generation I come from.
His generation has seen some of football’s greatest managers, with names such as Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola revolutionizing the game.
But there was one just before that still leaves him in awe.
Speaking of his role models, he said: “The whole current generation, Eddie Howe, [Jurgen] Klopp, Pep, Mourinho a few years ago.
“But I think the one that has struck me the most in recent years is Sir Alex, how good he was at Manchester United.
“He’s always been able to renew himself and renew player and team cycles and I think staying as long as he did was pretty stupid so I’m watching him because I want to know how he is. stayed so up to date with everything.”
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