The 40 year old soccer coach André Villas-Boas debuted in the 40th edition of the race, but only lasted 4 days
André Villas-Boas is a recognized personality in the world of sports. The manager in one of the best teams Porto ever seen, from Chelsea, Tottenham, Zenit, and more recently the Shanghai SIPG, now competes in the most famous rally in the world.
The Portuguese is driving a Honda Hilux and is accompanied in his first experience in the Dakar Rally by his compatriot Ruben Faria, a former motorcyclist whose best participation in the race was in 2013, when he finished second on a KTM motorcycle. On the course of the fourth day of competition, AVB crashed against a dune. Even though he was later discharged from the hospital, the excoach retired from the Dakar.
Why he wanted to run
“My humble goal is to reach the finish line in Córdoba”, Villas-Boas told the Dakar Rally website in an interview. Perhaps that is the most important challenge for the manager, because not all those who participate in the race finish it. In Faria’s past 9 participations of Faria, he could not reach the goal in 3 of them.
Racing runs in the veins of the Villas-Boas family. André’s father took him, when he was little, to the race of Formula 1 at the Estoril circuit and the Rally of Portugal. His uncle, Pedro Villas-Boas, participated in the Dakar in 1982 on a car, when the race was still running between Paris and Africa.
André Villas-Boas’s path to become a Dakar rider
“The Dakar has been in my head for some time”, says the ex-coach. The opportunity to run has come at the perfect time for Villas-Boas. He recently ended his contract with his latest team, the Shanghai SIPG, where he reached a second place after replacing the legendary Sven-Göran Eriksson on the bench of the Chinese team.
However, his dream of the rally will not last forever, as he plans to resume his coaching activities in June of this year. This is not in vain: soccer has brought him many satisfactions. In 2011 he won the league, the cup and the Portuguese Super Cup and the UEFA Europa League with Porto, counting on a fantastic squad that included Radamel Falcao García, James Rodríguez, Joao Moutinho, Maicon, Nicolás Otamendi, Cristian Rodríguez, Hulk, among others.
This great stage in Portugal took the “Special Two” to Chelsea in England. There he had already been second coach under the great Jose Mourinho between 2004 and 2007, a period where “the blues” won two leagues, two league cups and one FA Cup. Already as the person in charge of the team’s tactical order, with great expectations above, did not demonstrate the dominance that enshrined him in Porto and left the team on the verge of elimination in the UEFA Champions League. Ironically Roberto Di Matteo, his technical assistant on the bench of Chelsea, took the reins of the team and managed to win the Champions League and an FA Cup that same season.
A few months later he arrived as a coach to a backyard rival of his former team: Tottenham. While he had one of the best seasons in that club’s history in terms of his position in the Premier League, where he finished 5th, the following season he was not able to maintain a good performance and ended up being fired as a coach.
In 2014, he came to one of the most powerful teams in Russia: the Zenit of St. Petersburg. Although in his first year he only achieved a second place in the league, the following year he won this competition along with the Russian Super Cup. He would also win the cup of that country in 2016.
During his time as coach of the Russian team, it was already his mind to take a break from football. “My first idea was [to prepare for the Dakar] right after my period at Zenit St. Petersburg”. However, one of his close friends recommended that he take a whole year to prepare for the competition and participate in a car. That was how he contacted Overdrive, the team that sheltered him to run in one of his Hilux for the 2018 Dakar. His car has no sponsor, but instead it is marked with the names of some charitable foundations like Laureus, Ace-Africa and APPACDM. Accompanied by Farias, Villas-Boas will run, according to himself, “in the greatest adventure of all”.
Latin American Post | Iván Parada Hernández
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