Gokulam Kerala FC's Spanish coach Fernando Santiago Valera leaving no stone unturned for future
Santiago, who was previously the coach of the Spanish Tercera Division side CF Gava, is leaving no stone unturned as he dives into a new season with new players in a new league and country.
KOCHI: In coaching circles, Fernando Santiago Valera is best known as the author of Futbol Inteligente, a book on grassroots training he wrote during his days as a coach in the city of Barcelona. But the season on the cards presents a big change of scenery for the coach who has been assigned to guide Gokulam Kerala FC to glory.
"Our aim is to compete for top honours in the coming season," said the 44-year-old. "I knew there was a lot of potential in Indian football and the club was interested in my philosophy and style of football. So, there was no doubt in my mind to move to this country when the offer came," the Gokulam head coach said.
Santiago, who was previously the coach of the Catalonia-based Spanish Tercera Division side CF Gava, is leaving no stone unturned as he dives into a new season with new players in a new league and country. In order to get instructions through to his players, the coach has even grasped decent English — a language he never spoke until three months ago.
"I am learning slowly, but that does not affect communication with my players," said Santiago, who started his career as a coach at Fundacion Marcet football academy. "Unlike youth football, you have to delve deeper and deeper into the game when it comes to managing a professional football team. We are working hard day in, day out," said the coach.
Gokulam, who finished seventh in last season's I-League and were knocked out by eventual champions Bengaluru FC in the Super Cup under now technical director Bino George, are hoping to put on an improved showing in their second year of existence. They are competing in the Kerala Premier League and are top of their group with five wins from six matches.
"We have to work very hard in the coming months, Me and my staff are evaluating the players we have at our disposal. We will decide whether we need to reshuffle the squad after the conclusion of KPL," said Santiago. "Meanwhile, I am also trying to learn more about our opposition and Indian football in general," he added.
Gokulam have already secured the signature of English winger Antonio German who is well known to Kerala football fans after his stint with Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters. "German was an important player for Blasters. He is someone who is already a fan favourite and his style of play suits us. I hope he will produce what he is capable of in the I-League," the coach said.