Reims sensation Will Still no 'spotty' Football Manager 'geek' as Leeds & Southampton-linked coach airs Premier League ambition
- Inexperienced coach thriving in France
- Working with Arsenal-owned Balogun
- Hopes to coach in England eventually
WHAT HAPPENED? At 30 years of age, the inexperienced coach – who was born in Belgium to English parents – has been stunning the football world with his exploits in Ligue 1. He led Reims to a record-setting 17-game unbeaten run upon inheriting their managerial reins, before finally coming unstuck against Marseille, and made headlines when it was revealed that his lack of a UEFA Pro Licence was costing his French employers £22,000 in fines for each game he took charge of. Much has been made of his supposed interest in the Football Manager gaming series, but Still wants to prove that he is about much more than that.
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WHAT THEY SAID: He has told Sky Sports: “With the Football Manager thing, for example - people think I'm some spotty geek behind my computer that's just been dropped in at Stade de Reims and is doing an unbelievable job. But I've been doing it for 10 years and the experiences I've accumulated or tried to accumulate have helped me and are still helping me today. People say 'Oh, he's got no coaching badges, no qualifications, he's just played computer games!' I went to university to study football coaching, I've got the highest level diploma you can get, for the moment, in football and I'm studying for the Pro Licence. I realise it's a fun story and one that catches the eye. But I know also that people behind it all know somewhere deep down what the reality is.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Still’s success with Reims, where he is working with Arsenal-owned striker Folarin Balogun, has seen him linked with prominent posts in England at Leeds and Southampton. He added on harbouring ambitions of one day working in the Premier League: “I've never really thought about it [managing in England] because I never expected to be in the position I am so early and so suddenly. Why not? I've done some crazy things in the past; I was head coach at 24 and the same thing happened at 28 back in Belgium and now I'm 30 and people are saying this is crazy. Being English and growing up in an English environment in Belgium, England has always felt like home and a place that I'd love to go back to. It would feel like coming home, just because the English culture is part of me, part of my roots, part of my family, part of who I am. I think if you asked any kid what they would like to do, they'd say they'd love to be a Premier League footballer or manager and I'm no different. I was brought up like everyone else and had the same dreams. I'll keep at them. If it happens one day I'll deserve it, or I hope I will have deserved it, but I realise how much work there is to do before I get there and how much I've got to learn. For now, I will stick it to one side.”
IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? For now, Still is focused on events at Reims – with his side sat ninth in the Ligue 1 table as Balogun, who is caught up in an international allegiance tug of war between England and the United States, leads the charge for a team that may yet figure in the European qualification picture.