The story behind new Adelaide United coach Guillermo Amor

With Josep Gombau departing Adelaide United, the question is can the new Reds coach Guillermo Amor fill the shoes and maintain the quality on the park?

Gombau’s legacy at Adelaide United is an inaugural FFA Cup triumph and a willingness to focus on a style of play that was sometimes even at the cost of victory.

Ahead of his second season with the Reds, Gombau brought in Amor whose football resume was probably the most impressive this country has ever seen. The ex- midfielder was one of the first graduates of Barca’s famed youth academy La Masia which first opened in 1979.

His playing career of 421 games makes him the sixth most capped player in Blaugrana’s history. During his time with the Catalan giants 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. 

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 at La Masia where Amor worked with Gombau.

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

“I wanted to live a new experience,” Amor told FourFourTwo last season.

“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.”

Unlike coaches whose results are measured by victory or defeat the work of a Technical Director is behind the scenes. But last season Amor was an ever-present on the Reds bench and was responsible for much of the tactical play and style that United displayed.

The new United head coach is a quietly spoken character and a different personality to the departing boss, and it was a point that Gombau made when Amor first arrived at the club.

“At the beginning he came and he just looked around and did not speak a lot, he is the kind of person who needs to get confidence,” Gombau said.

“But he can bring a lot of things. He brings to us a lot of tactical stuff. He’s a player that played a lot of games and knows the movements perfectly.

“We want to work with Adelaide this 3-4-3 system just to play with three defenders, attack more, and he can bring a lot of things to us. For me it’s a pleasure that Guillermo is here with us.”

Like most players and coaches who are unfamiliar with Australian football, the stereotypes of the game down under can be the only point of reference for new arrivals. But with time Amor noticed that the A-League had more to it than the usual cliché.

“Before coming here, people told me that soccer in Australia was very physical. Now, I realised that it is also very competitive and technical. There are top quality players, especially here at Adelaide United,” Amor said.

Amor was Director of Youth football at Barcelona at the same time that the Reds attacker Sergio Cirio was playing for the Catalan youth teams.

 “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,” said Cirio last season.

“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.”

Players that came through the youth systems during Amor’s 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 believes that the secret to being a good footballer is to show endeavour and as a football teacher 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.”