Boavista were ejected from the top flight in 2008 following allegations of attempted match-fixing. They were subsequently relegated to the third tier but returned to the Primeira Liga in the 2014-15 season after the 2008 decision was overturned in the civil courts.
Armando Gonçalves Teixeira, aka Petit, was a member of the Boavista team that won the Portuguese title in 2000-01. He is now back at the club as coach.
(This interview was made by the journalist Isabel Paulo and appeared in the generalist weekly newspaper Expresso (02/08/14). On any copyright issues, please contact footballportugal.)
- Expresso: They say that you should never go back to a place where you were happy. What made you return to the Bessa and play in a team from the third division?
- Petit: I never moved away from Boavista. Even when I was in Germany, I came here and watched games in the Bessa whenever I could. When I left FC Köln I was in Porto, doing nothing, and they invited me to play. I accepted the offer because this is my world … and for gratitude. I played three or four games and then became player-coach.
- Is it true that you played and coached for free?
- For a year and a half. Last year I started receiving something. It was a way of helping the club that helped me since I was in the junior teams. Now I have a contract in keeping with the situation of a club that’s been through great difficulties – unjustly.
- Your goal is to have a trouble-free championship campaign. Does Boavista have the conditions to play in the Primeira Liga?
- It’s an exciting challenge for everybody, from the board to the players, but I think we can make history again. Boavisteiros have suffered a lot but now is not the time to look back. We have to look to the future, which could be sunny.
- In the first five games, you’re going to play against Braga, FC Porto and Benfica. Is that a test of fire?
- I think it’s very motivating … and the greatest pressure is on the opponents.
- On the programme ‘Liga Futre’, you confessed that your dream is one day to coach Benfica …
- It wasn’t quite like that. What I said was that it’s the ambition of all coaches to coach big teams, and Benfica’s one of them. But what I really want is to coach, for many, many years, the club of my heart – Boavista – which made me as a player and as the man that I am. I wish I could stay here forever, like Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. That’s what I’d like to be for this team.
- But that isn’t the tradition in Portuguese football …
- I know that it’s difficult. There’s not much patience, but there’s always a first time for everything. I know what I’m worth, I’ve worked a lot in my life, I know the people at this club and they know me. If we can manage a long-lasting marriage, that’s a sign that Boavista are on the right track.
- And do you feel prepared to coach a team in the Primeira Liga, without having all your coaching badges?
- I’m attending the second level of the coaching course, but I want to do the fourth to have the maximum qualifications; in life, you learn until you die. Course help, but I feel well prepared because coaching staff isn’t limited to one person. We’ve got Manuel Gonçalves, who has the fourth level and had coached here, and Alfredo, who’s the goalkeeping coach. It’s not a new situation. In fact, that’s how Paulo Bento coached at Sporting.
- How many players are staying on from last season?
- Six, seven, some from the youth teams, others that have been in the squad for the last two years, like Pedro costa and Fary, the oldest in the team and in the league. He’s 39, still young [laughs], but he has a lot of influence on the more inexperienced players, both on the field and in the changing room. Whoever arrives is straight-away apprised of the mystique of this club.
- You’re going to have 18 new faces. Who chooses the players?
- It’s been a joint task. From the president João Loureiro to [ex-Boavista player] Jorge Couto, the sport director, and me, of course. We’ve worked hard, sometimes into the early hours, analysing videos and talking to those who know the market. We’re only interested in players who fit the Boavista profile.
- Which means what?
- Players who will always fight for three points, regardless of who the opponent is. They have to give 100%. Players who want to grow, help the team, who will have opportunities but who will have to work and suffer for that. I was here for five years and was loaned out to several clubs before I reached the first team.
- And they’ll have to run a lot, the motto of [Boavista’s 2001 title-winning coach] Jaime Pacheco?
- Nowadays it has to be like that. It’s not only playing with the ball. There’s only one ball and there are 22 players. So the sooner we get the ball, the better. It’s a sign that we can play our football. Without the ball, you have to run even more.
- António Oliveira [former FC Porto and Portugal coach] nicknamed you ‘Pitbull’, and it stuck …
- That was in 2001. Two players in the Seleção’s midield had injuries, one of them Paulo Sousa, and I was called up. They phoned me but I thought it was friends joking around and I hung up. Straight afterwards they called me from Boavista. I went to Lisbon with the clothes I had on my back and we left immediately for Madeira, where were going to play Andorra. At the end of the first training session, Figo, who was going to play his 100th game, asked the António Oliveira if I was prepared. I heard him reply: “Let him run and play – he’s going to seem like a pitbull.”
- You didn’t take it badly?
- No, I even liked it. It’s a dog with a lot of guts, determined. It’s like me. I never give up, I run until I get a thing, I’ve never liked to lose, at anything.
- Have you got anyone to follow in your footsteps?
- I have a daughter, Bárbara, who’s 15, and Gonçalo, 12, who plays as a winger in Boavista’s youth team. He’s not like his dad – he’s more skilful, cleverer … but the guts are there.
- You [Boavista] won the title in 2001 and had a reputation as cloggers …
- Unjustly. It was a team that knew how to press and keep the ball. We went to the Champions League, we played against Manchester united, Bayern Munich and Nantes. We came second in the group and no one was sent off. I don’t know where people got that idea from.
- Who was the coach that left the biggest mark on you?
- I was lucky enough to work with a lot, some who had been national and world champions. Jaime Pacheco was important, but I also learned a lot from Fernando Santos, Trapattoni, Koeman …
- Boavista have opted to play on an artificial pitch. Isn’t that a disadvantage?
- No. We’re going to have 17 games at home and the same away. In winter it’s actually better because we won’t have the problem of heavy pitches, with holes and mud. And games are faster. Before games on natural pitches we’re going to train in Leça.
- Of the Big Three, who’s the favourite for the title?
- We’re all starting from zero. Of course, they’re always the favourites, but only when we start actually playing can I assess them.
- The Seleção is at the end of a cycle. Is there a fear of investing in a new generation?
- The important thing is for the clubs to invest in their youth teams, like the Germans do. But maybe it’s time to make some changes in the Seleção because we do have some quality players, like André Gomes, Ivan Cavaleiro and Mika, who’s one of our reinforcements at Boavista.