Gombau heads Villa's football academy in New York

Charismatic former Adelaide United coach Josep Gombau has arrived in New York to bring to life Spanish superstar David Villa’s coaching academies across the United States - and has not ruled out a return to the A-League once his work is done.


Source: Supplied

The ex-Barcelona academy chief, who led Adelaide United to back-to-back A-League finals appearances and FFA Cup triumph before departing abruptly last July with two years of his contract to run, will spearhead the expansion of Villa’s DV7 Soccer Academy dream over the next 24 months in his role as technical director.

The opening gambit was the launch two weeks ago of a start-up academy in Puerto Rico, in conjunction with local club Bayamon FC, who sit on the fourth tier of the US football pyramid.

For Villa and Gombau, it's the first step in a long march to spreading the tentacles of Spanish football's winning philosophy to a generation of young Americans.

Gombau, whose animated side-line high-jinks and tactical acumen lit up the A-League during his two-year tenure with the Reds, was courted by Villa for the role when he met the former Barcelona and Manchester City star during his short guest stint with Melbourne City last season.

Gombau Villa

While a new chapter, it's far from the end of the tale for the 39 year-old, whose love of coaching at senior level burns deep.

“This about building academies around the USA in partnership with David Villa,” said Gombau. “We have made this project together and we will be based in New York (where Villa skippers MLS side New York City), but we will be opening several academies around the country.

“We want to educate youngsters in the Spanish style... attacking, possession-based football. As director of football, my job will be to manage the expansion and bring in the coaches we will need."

Irked by reports in the Adelaide media that his sole responsibility and new base would be the football backwater of Puerto Rico, rather than the emerging hub of New York, Gombau declared: “When I left Adelaide I said it was to come to New York to work, and that is what has happened.

"I have always been honest about this and for others to suggests otherwise is wrong. What's been written has confused people, and I am not happy with that, but now they will know the true story. And that is that I am in New York.

"It's a good step for my life and my family. But, for sure, I will return to coaching at senior level, because that is what I do.


"Why not the A-League again? I am following the competition, every single game, and I love to see how the teams are doing.

“I loved the league, I loved the people … the fans had a lot of respect for me and I enjoyed my relationship with them.”

While FIFA World Cup winner Villa's top job is scoring goals for the City Football Group-owned New York, this pet project remains an abiding passion.

“With these academies I fulfil a dream," he said. "I want to help youngsters develop and flourish. We were searching for person who could tackle the planning and technical development and when I met Josep in Australia, when I played there, I knew he would be the right choice, if he was willing to do it.

"Because of his legacy, achievements, and capacity we are confident he is the right man."

Villa academy

Renowned for creating a Reds team which bristled with adventure and technical touches, the Gombau way won widespread approval.

“I think people enjoyed the style of football we played during my time in Adelaide, and even when we played away I feel the people appreciated what I tried to do with the team,” he added.

“I am going to be creating something in the United States that could be very satisfying and of course it’s also possible I could also stay on there.

“But if you ask me what my main job is? I am a coach. I am just stopping for a while.”

Gombau, who never played professionally but began his coaching odyssey at the tender age of 16, is pleased to see the Reds on the rise again under his friend, Barcelona legend Guillermo Amor, who was technical director during Gombau’s Coopers Stadium stint.

“I am happy to see the club on the winning way again, and I will always have a place for them in my heart,” he said.

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4 min read
Published 2 February 2016 at 8:49am
By David Lewis