JOSE MOURINHO’S new assistant manager took his first steps in coaching as No 2 for a humble Welsh university team.
Joao Sacramento was named as Mourinho’s right-hand man at Tottenham on Wednesday after making the switch from Lille.
But the 30-year-old from the Portuguese city of Braga has strong roots in Wales, where he combined studies at the University of Glamorgan with coaching.
Welsh FA technical director Dave Adams, who was both Sacramento’s lecturer and manager of the uni team, said: “Joao had an incredible appetite and was so motivated to be a coach.
“I remember he said to me, ‘Can I come along and help you with the training?’
“It was his first flavour of coaching.
“He just wanted to be involved, so he took any opportunity and wanted to learn.
“I can see why he’s got to an elite club like Tottenham because of his pure determination.
“As time went on, I gave him more coaching responsibility.
“He was so young, the same age as the students but his eye for detail gained him respect.
“He thought about the game in an analytical way.
‘ON THE COAL FACE’
“He’d translate our games well into training, so we knew what we needed to work on and what the opposition strengths and weaknesses were.
“Our training was aligned to a game-plan.
“He’d help with the coaching but if we had a meeting where we would do a presentation to the players he would collect clips from the opposition.
“If I was late for training for whatever reason he would go and set up the session.
“It really was on the coal face.
“We won three promotions in three seasons.
“It’s a nice story. I still speak to him regularly and I hope he’s a success at Spurs.”
Sacramento almost did not start the football coaching and performance course at the now University of South Wales.
Adams added: “I remember his family didn’t want him to do the course in 2007.
“His dad wanted him to be an engineer instead!
“But he got a first-class honours degree and a distinction at Masters level, which he did part-time over two years.
“During that time I also got him placements at Cardiff City’s academy and the Welsh FA to gain experience.
“He did opposition analysis for Wales across all levels before he joined Monaco to do the same.
“From Braga to the valleys in South Wales to study a specific football coaching course was unusual back then but it shows there is a pathway to the elite level.”
Sacramento also used to study the Special One’s methods.
Adams said: “Mourinho has a clear methodology of work.
“It is called ‘tactical periodisation’, which is a training football methodology and is something Joao is a strong believer in.
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“He studied that as part of the degree.
“So I can see why he has ended up working with Mourinho because the way he works will be aligned to how Mourinho works.
“Being Portuguese, Mourinho is a role model to someone like Joao.
“He will be able to implement that working on the training pitch.
“He’s a very bright lad and can converse in three languages, English, French and Portuguese.
“So given Joao’s broad skill set and educational background, I’m sure he will fulfil various roles very effectively.”
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Adams, who has also worked at Swansea, Everton and Middlesbrough, was a mentor for Sacramento on the course in the valleys.
He added: “We worked out of a Portakabin at Treforest and did most of the work on 3G pitches.
“Now that has advanced to an indoor barn with GPS recordings but back then it was pretty unsophisticated. It’s a bit different to Tottenham, where their training facilities are world class.”