Head Coach Profile: Fighter to the core, Ferrando eyes breaking Hero ISL trophy jinx

FC Goa’s head coach Juan Ferrando will have big shoes to fill as he prepares for his first Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) campaign with the Gaurs. Taking over the reins from Sergio Lobera, who made Goa one of the most attractive sides to watch and the league’s great entertainers, will, by no means, be an easy task.

Being the inaugural League Winners Shield holders, expectations will high among the Goan faithful as they prepare to contest on two fronts – the Hero ISL and the AFC Champions League. Ferrando’s side won’t just be expected to get results, they will be required to do so while playing an attractive brand of football, in keeping with the ethos of the club dating back to the days of Zico as head coach.

It’s something the Spaniard is well aware of and alluded to during the time of his appointment. “I am so incredibly excited to become part of the FC Goa family. I have been greatly impressed by the club’s emphasis on their vision and style of play and I would like to thank the club for giving me this opportunity,” Ferrando said after signing as Goa’s head coach.

Even though he had to give up on his dream of being a footballer due to injuries as a teenager, Ferrando’s love for the beautiful game meant that he wanted to be involved in football in some capacity. As a result, the second act of his footballing journey began when he decided to pursue a career in coaching. His first steps in coaching came as an 18-year-old when he graduated from the RCD Espanyol school. At Espanyol, he held the roles of campus and methodological coordinator, dealing mostly with the fitness aspect of the game.

He later gained valuable coaching experience at FC Barcelona and Malaga’s academies but what separates him from many of his contemporaries is his keen interest in sports science. Ferrando has a Bachelor’s degree in the Science of Physical Activity and Sport and he has also enrolled in postgraduate programs such as ‘Nutrition and Dietetics Sport’ and ‘Sports Massage.’ He has also written a thesis on the ‘Effect of body vibration training on the ability to spot jump of professional footballers’, and needless to say, having such a background is certain to stand him in good stead when it comes to dealing with players in the current COVID-19 pandemic situation.

Following stints as a fitness coach at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger and after spending a year with Brighton under Gus Poyet, Ferrando took charge of Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol in 2013 and did a really good job there before joining Greek side Ergotelis. After leaving Greece, he went on to manage Spanish sides Cultural Leonesa and Linares. However, he returned to Greece, this time with Volos FC. His coming of age as a manager actually came at Volos FC.

At the time of his appointment, Volos were finding it difficult in the third tier but by the time he left the club, he had taken them to the highest league in the Greek football pyramid and Ferrando’s achievement was recognized as he was named the Best Football League Coach in Greece.

Now tasked with leading Goa to a maiden Hero ISL crown with the same brand of free-flowing football that has become synonymous with the club, Ferrando can be expected to approach his new challenge with the same attitude of overcoming obstacles – the theme of his career right from the get-go.

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