KOCHI: Luiz Greco has the experience of working with some of the most iconic teams in world football. The Brazilian has spent time with some of the best footballers, while his list of employers includes top division sides like Clube Atletico Paranaense and Santos FC, the club that Pele played for with distinction.
Gokulam Kerala FC — the latest addition to that long list — is not quite as popular yet. The 56-year-old has been roped in as technical consultant of the I-League club that finished seventh in the table but created a reputation as giant-killers after defeating the likes of champions Minerva Punjab FC, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in the final weeks of the season.
“Gokulam first contacted me in January and I found their president Praveen VC a man with a solid plan to make the club the best in India,” Greco told Express from Brazil. He is expected to work closely with Gokulam’s new Spanish head coach Fernando Andres Santiago Valera, who will replace Bino George at the start of next season.
“I took the opportunity because of the potential Kerala has. Players like Indian Arrows’ KP Rahul and Gokulam’s Arjun Jayaraj proves it,” said Greco, who has experience of Indian football having worked as technical director of the Mohun Bagan Academy in 2007 and touring the country with Paranaense for the 2016 Sait Nagjee Cup in Kozhikode and Subroto Cup in New Delhi. At Paranaense, he was also pivotal in bringing a string of Brazilian players for the inaugural edition of the ISL and also arranged a month-long tour of Brazil for the India U-17 team ahead of the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
“My main focus will be on scouting as well as recruiting international and domestic players and planning the structure of the club including the academy,” he said. “I have been in contact with Praveen and Valera and are discussing which players to keep and who to sign for next season,” said Greco, who served as the technical director of Santos’ B side till December 31.
He is a keen follower of Indian football. “I follow all ISL matches on TV and during my last visit to India, I watched 12 I-League matches. I’m aware of most of the players, which will do a world of good in my new job,” said Greco, who will visit Kerala regularly to assess the running of the club.
“It is an interesting time for Indian and Kerala football. We have almost reached an agreement to lease the Manjeri Stadium in Malappuram for five years which will be our home from next season. We will have the youth level teams there and we expect capacity crowds for our matches in the I-League,” Greco added.
“Luiz is someone with vast experience of South American as well as world football. We thought having someone like him on board at Gokulam will help us as we thrive to become one of the best clubs in the country,” said club president Praveen.