The FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 is only 50 days away, and many coaches are beginning to gather their sides for final preparations.
While the tournament has often been a springboard to superstardom for the sport’s top players, it has also acted as a pedestal for coaches. Many household names in international football began their careers overseeing these talented youngsters on the world’s stage.
The budding tacticians would go on to lead their senior national teams as well as world-beating clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Here’s a look at four top names in coaching that showcased their skills at the FIFA U-20 World Cup or FIFA World Youth Championship, as the competition was known up through 2005.
Jose Pekerman oversaw a formidable Argentina youth side that captured three of four U-20 world titles from 1995-2001, only bowing out in the Round of 16 in 1999. Those teams included La Albiceleste greats Juan Roman Riquelme, Lionel Scaloni, Javier Saviola and Maxi Rodriguez.
The Argentine coach would go on to manage his home country at the senior level, overseeing many of those same players in addition to the likes of Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez. Pekerman served as head coach in three FIFA World Cups™: first in 2006 with Argentina, then in 2014 and 2018 with Colombia. He led both countries to appearances in the quarter-finals.
Long before he replaced Jose Pekerman as manager of Los Cafeteros, Carlos Queiroz led Portugal’s heralded “golden generation” to back-to-back top finishes at the 1989 and 1991 FIFA World Youth Championships. His 1991 squad included 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year Luis Figo and 2002/03 UEFA Champions League winner Rui Costa.
Quieroz has enjoyed a diverse career coaching at the club and international levels. A trusted assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United who also served as head coach at Real Madrid, the Portuguese boss has managed at four different World Cups (2002, 2010, 2014 and 2018) for three different teams (South Africa, Portugal and IR Iran).
Louis Van Gaal
He’s coached some of the biggest clubs in football, including Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United. Louis Van Gaal consistently displayed a penchant for giving senior team debuts to future giants like Carles Puyol, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Patrick Kluivert. But did you know he was at the helm for the Netherlands during their quarter-finals finish at the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championships?
That Oranje youth side was led by an attacking trident of Rafael van der Vaart, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Arjen Robben, the last of whom Van Gaal would reunite with at Bayern. They were ousted from the tournament by third-place finishers Egypt.
Before the German-born Sigi Schmid began managing Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy, he led USA U-20s at the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship. The USA were dispatched by eventual champions Spain in the Round of 16.
Schmid went onto win two MLS Cups, five Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups and one CONCACAF Champions Cup between the Galaxy, Columbus Crew and Seattle Sounders. Shortly after his death late last year, MLS announced that the league would rename its Coach of the Year award in Schmid’s honour.