Gombau in awe of long-time friend Amor

With Adelaide United coach Guillermo Amor just a game away from an A-League premiership and championship double, the friend and confidante who recommended him for the Reds job couldn’t be happier.


Josep Gombau is in charge of the Australia Olyroos team Source: Getty Images

Watching with avid interest 17,000 kilometres away in New York, where he is reveling in his new role as technical director of David Villa’s DV7 Soccer Academy, former Adelaide coach Josep Gombau is both delighted and proud at the stunning success enjoyed by the former Barcelona star turned A-league coach of the season.

Gombau was behind bringing Amor – the ex-technical director of Barcelona's famed La Masia talent factory where he once worked alongside him – to Adelaide in 2014, first as an advisor to the club  and then its technical director.

When Gombau left to link up with Villa last July after a successful reign at the Reds – he suggested to then football director Michael Petrillo that Amor would be the right man to succeed him.

After a rocky start to his reign, Amor’s men went on a 20-game unbeaten romp and claimed the Premier's Plate - they now have Western Sydney Wanderers in their sights on Sunday at Adelaide Oval as the double beckons.

Gombau believes Amor’s winning mentality as player – five La Liga titles and a European Cup winning medal are among his many honours – gave him the tools to advance as a coach.

“He knows about success and how to handle big situations ... that comes from playing in a European Cup final and at the World Cup for Spain," he said.

“He is a person who doesn’t show so much of what he is thinking … he always remains calm but he knows for sure what he wants to and how to go about achieving that.

“He loves to play the game the right way .. which is what you would expect from somebody who arrived at La Masia aged 11 and who made almost his whole career at a club like Barcelona.

“He worked under Johan Cryuff and he knows better than anybody how the game should be played.

“I am so pleased and proud of the work he has done for the club and also the staff and the personalities in the club. The same goes for the players ... they're the key of the club.

Gombau was a coach at La Masia working under Amor before the roles were reversed.

“He was my boss back in our time in Barcelona and we have a long friendship." he said.

"When he told me he wanted to move on from working with kids I suggested he join me in Adelaide.

“I wanted to work with him again it was good for both of us. When it was time to leave Adelaide, I asked what his thoughts would be on staying on as my successor and whether I should propose that to the club.

“He said he wanted to stay loyal to me, but said if I was happy with that he would like to take on the challenge and he has done really well with it."

The pair remains in regular contact, and the goodwill messages have taken on an extra meaning this week with the double so close and Amor being voted the A-League's coach of the year.

“The grand final will be on at 3am in New York and I will up in front of my computer watching it,” said Gombau.

“Finals tend to be close. Adelaide have a slight advantage because they are home. Maybe a small thing will change the game and I just hope Adelaide get the result.”

Gombau would like to see the Barcelona legend go on to lead the Reds to continuing glory in the years ahead but most importantly to continue to forge a successful coaching career.

“I think he will see this as a project … that tends to be his mentality. He is a person who sees things in the long term," he said.

Gombau believes that Petrillo was instrumental in laying the foundatuins for both his success at the club and also Amor’s.

“He brought me there and also approved Guillermo to take over my position when I left,” he said. “He had the vision to bring the Spanish style to Australia. He also brought good players like Craig Goodwin, Tarik Elrich, Dylan McGowan and Jimmy Jeggo to the squad.

“And he allowed me to bring in Spanish players like Cirio, Isla and Pablo to the club, and he was behind the signing of Iacoppo La Rocca.”

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5 min read
Published 28 April 2016 at 6:13pm
By Dave Lewis