Will Still has made quite an impression at Reims, but he’s keen to distance himself from suggestions that he’s a “blotchy” football manager “geek”.
- Inexperienced trainer, successful in France
- Collaboration with Arsenal’s own Balogun
- Hoping to train in England at some point
WHAT HAPPENED? At 30, the inexperienced manager, who was born in Belgium to English parents, has stunned the footballing world with his exploits in Ligue 1. He led Reims to a record-breaking 17-game unbeaten streak after taking charge of them before finally failing at Marseille, and made headlines when it was revealed that his lack of a UEFA Pro license was fined his French employers £22,000 cost for each game he officiated. Much has been said about his alleged interest in the Football Manager game series, but Still wants to prove he’s about much more than that.
WHAT YOU SAID: He told Sky Sports: “For example with the Football Manager – people think I’m a spotty geek behind my computer who just dropped by the Stade de Reims and is doing an incredible job. But I’ve been doing this for 10 years and the experiences I gained or tried to gain have helped me and are still helping me today. People say, “Oh, he has no coaching badges, no qualifications, he just played computer games!” I went to university to study football coaching, I currently have the highest diploma you can get in football and I’m studying for the pro license. I realize it’s a fun story that catches the eye. But I also know that somewhere deep down, the people behind them know what the reality is.”
THE BIGGER IMAGE: Still’s success at Reims, where he works alongside Arsenal’s own striker Folarin Balogun, has linked him to prominent posts in England at Leeds and Southampton. He added he has ambitions to work in the Premier League one day: “I’ve never really thought about it [managing in England] because I never expected to be in the position I am in so early and so suddenly. Why not? I’ve done some crazy things in the past; I was head coach when I was 24 and the same thing happened in Belgium when I was 28 and now I’m 30 and people say it’s crazy. Being English and growing up in an English environment in Belgium, England has always felt like home and a place I would love to return to. It would feel like coming home simply because English culture is part of me, part of my roots, part of my family, part of who I am. I think if you asked a kid what they would like to do they would say they would like to be a Premier League footballer or manager and I am no different. I grew up like everyone else and had the same dreams. i stay with them If it happens one day I will deserve it, or I hope I deserve it, but I realize how much work there is to do before I get there and how much I have to learn. I’ll stick it to the page for now.”
ON THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? Still is focusing on events in Reims for now – with his side ninth in the Ligue 1 table while Balogun, who is embroiled in an international tug-of-war between England and the United States, is leading the charge for a team that is could still be represented in the European qualification picture.
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