Guillermo Amor: From football royalty to Reds revolutionary

When Adelaide United defeated Perth Glory to win the inaugural FFA Cup final, Reds technical director Guillermo Amor was among those who stepped up to receive his winner’s medal.

Amor’s football resume reads: Barcelona legend, ex- Spanish international and former Director of Barca’s famed youth academy - La Masia.

 It was the promise of a new adventure after his tenure at La Masia, and the prospect of reuniting with Adelaide coach Josep Gombau, that prompted the Barca icon to join the Reds’ Latin invasion.

“I wanted to live a new experience,” Amor said.

“ Josep (Gombau) and I talked about the possibility of coming here. After working with the Barcelona youth academy, I wanted to be involved in professional soccer.”

After spending some time in Adelaide and seeing what the world game is like Down Under, the former Barcelona star says his perception of Australian football has changed.

“Before coming here, people told me that soccer in Australia was very physical” he said.

“Now, after four months here I realised that it is also very competitive and technical. There are top quality players, especially here at Adelaide United.

“I am grateful to be part of this team and I hope to be able to make my contribution to achieve the best results. “

Amor added: “Our goal is to do a good season and try to win always, every match. To achieve these goals, we have to play well. The players have to believe what they’re doing. “

With Adelaide United winning their first piece of silverware in eight years, Amor’s influence is already starting to be felt at the club.

Sergio Cirio, the scorer of the winning FFA Cup goal, says having a former player who had such a high football pedigree like Amor at the club has given the Red’s players some quality direction.

“Guillermo (Amor) has a really big influence on all of us because he played with Barcelona during one of the best moments of the club.

“He won everything that one player can win, he played for the (Spanish) national team in many games, so when he speaks we listen.

“We give him a lot of attention because we know that he has a big experience as a player and his advice is very important to us.”

 Amor made his debut for Barcelona under world football iconoclast Johan Cruyff and then went on to make 421 appearances for Barcelona from 1988 through 1998, making him the sixth most capped player in Barcelona’s history.

During his time with the Blaugrana the 47-year-old won four consecutive La Liga titles and was part of Barcelona’s history making team that won the 1991-1992 European Cup. 

Amor’s team mates in the winning squad were global football luminaries like Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov, Josep Guardiola Ronald Koeman and Andoni Zubizarreta.

Amor says that his most beloved recollection with Barcelona was: “Having the opportunity of playing with the team of my life.

 “I have been linked to Barcelona half of my life. I have many good memories from Barcelona.”

The ex- midfielder was one of the first graduates of La Masia first opened in 1979 and, after his playing career, Amor became Director of the same famed youth academy from 2003 to 2007 and again from 2010 to 2014. It was during the earlier period he worked with youth academy coach Gombau.

Players that came through the youth systems during Amor reign included: Thiago Motta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Lionel Messi, Giovani dos Santos and more recently Adama Traore, and wunderkind Munir El Haddadi.

“My responsibility as the Director of the Youth Academy of Barcelona was to watch over the kids’ integral training,” Amor said.

“If I had to write everything we did, it would take me a whole day.

“We must take into account that we are talking about one of the best youth academies in the world, with an excellent structure. The style and the philosophy is a fact, which took a lot of years to improve and we always look for the excellence.”

Amor was Pep Guardiola’s partner in midfield during his successful playing career at Barcelona.

And while he was mainly involved in the day-to-day activities of the youth team, he was still was able to experience the glory of the Xavi, Iniesta and  Messi era when Barcelona won three consecutive La Liga titles and a Champions League trophy.

“It had a great influence on us because he (Guardiola) has a wide knowledge about Barcelona and football,” Amor said

“We have a good relationship because we both arrived at (Barcelona) at a very young age. It was a happy moment for us and for the supporters.

“We try not to interfere much and be involved in the professional team. Usually they (senior team) train during the morning and the academy in the afternoon.

“For us is a pleasure to see them in the professional team because each one of them were formed at the youth academy. They are awesome players and nice people.”

 Amor’s international playing career included 37 caps for Spain with the highlights being Euro96 in England where he scored to help the team reach the quarter finals, and playing in the 1998 World Cup in France.

“Playing in all these competitions with your national team is an achievement and happiness for every football player,” Amor said of his time with La Furia Roja.

“There are a lot of good memories, but the most important is being chosen to participate in these important competitions to represent your country.”

Amor blames a lack of motivation against some high quality opposition  for Spain’s poor showing in this year’s World Cup in Brazil.

“When a team wins everything, then it’s very difficult to win again,” he said of the 2010 World Cup champions.

“Netherlands and Chile are good teams, and they surprised us. In those types of competitions such as the World Cup, every single detail plays an important role.”

So what is the secret to being a good footballer and coach? Amor says for a player it’s endeavour and for a coach it’s simply taking delight in the profession.

“The mentality is essential for being a good player,” he said.

“I believe that with hard work and sacrifice, it would help you to be a better player.

“I’ve seen some players that have reached being in a professional team without being as good as others because they worked hard.

“For being a good coach, it’s very important that you enjoy your job, to be responsible and respectful. You also need to be clear the way you want to play and that the players understand and believe in what you say.”

Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Check out Episode Three of his latest A- League Football Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.