STEPHEN STILL HAS EFL DREAM

Well-trav­elled man­ager’s hope

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By John Lyons

STEPHEN Con­stan­tine’s man­age­rial ca­reer has taken him around the world, but he would still love the chance to show what he can do on home turf one day.

The 56-year-old English coach is cur­rently in in sec­ond spell as man­ager of the In­dia na­tional team. He first took the reins from 2002 to 2005 and then re­turned for a sec­ond stint in 2015.

But this foot­ball no­mad hasn’t just been an in­ter­na­tional man­ager with In­dia. He has also led Nepal, Malawi, Su­dan and Rwanda.

Lon­don-born of Greek-Cypriot de­scent, Con­stan­tine has also been a club man­ager in Cyprus, first-team coach at Mill­wall and worked in the academy at Bournemouth. Oh, and he played foot­ball in Cyprus and the United States.

“The best thing is be­ing able to play,” he said. “The sec­ond best thing is be­ing a coach and man­ager.

“I’ve been quite for­tu­nate to have gone to some of the places I have in the world. I’ve also been work­ing for FIFA for 19 years as a coach ed­u­ca­tor.

“My ca­reer has taken me all over the place and I’ve learned a great deal. I bring quite a bit to the ta­ble in terms of world­wide ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Fo­cused

Right now, Con­stan­tine is fully fo­cused on his job with In­dia and the lit­tle mat­ter of the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emi­rates in Jan­uary.

In­dia won four, drew one and lost one of their six Group A games in qual­i­fi­ca­tion to reach the finals, fur­ther signs of their rapid im­prove­ment un­der Con­stan­tine that has seen them surge from 173rd to 97th in the FIFA world rank­ings.

“I re­ally think we have half a chance to qual­ify out of our group,” he said as they pre­pare to face the hosts, Thai­land and Bahrain.

“We are a dif­fi­cult team to beat when we play well, but it de­pends if we can put three games to­gether in ten days.”

For his own part, Con­stan­tine is un­sure where his foot­ball jour­ney will take him next. His con­tract with In­dia fin­ishes at the end of Jan­uary and how they per­form in the Asian Cup could go a long way to de­cid­ing what hap­pens next.

And hav­ing seen the ups and down of foot­ball in his lengthy ca­reer, Con­stan­tine is keep­ing all his op­tions open – in­clud­ing his long-held wish to man­age in the Foot­ball League.

“I was born and brought up in Eng­land and had tri­als with Chelsea and Mill­wall as a kid,” said the Arse­nal fan. “When I can, I come back home.

“As a man­ager, I haven’t had the op­por­tu­nity to man­age in Eng­land for a, b and c rea­sons, but I feel I have a good deal to of­fer the Foot­ball League with my ex­pe­ri­ence and back­ground.

Ex­pe­ri­ence

“I miss club foot­ball and the day-to-day in­volve­ment. If Eng­land is an op­tion, bril­liant. I re­ally would like to man­age in Eng­land one of these days and am sure I would do well wher­ever I went.

“Some­times peo­ple say to me ‘you should feel up­set you haven’t had a chance in Eng­land’, but I’m okay with it.

“My ap­proach to foot­ball is holis­tic, and I know the Foot­ball League well. It’s not like I can’t speak the lan­guage or don’t know

the clubs. I keep tabs on things.” What Con­stan­tine would like is for some­one to look out­side the box, like he has been pre­pared to do in his foot­ball odyssey.

“In some cases chair­men know cer­tain man­agers and it’s al­most ‘bet­ter the devil you know’,” he ex­plained. “I think that’s why we some­times see man­agers on the merry-go-round, don’t do well at two, three or four clubs and still get po­si­tions.

“We are a bit in­su­lar in Eng­land and peo­ple may not know or un­der­stand what I’ve done, but all I ask is that I’m given an op­por­tu­nity at some point.

“Per­haps there is some­one out there who thinks ‘maybe this guy has some­thing to of­fer’. If that’s the case, I will show ev­ery­one what I’m ca­pa­ble of.

“What I have re­ally taken from my ex­pe­ri­ences is to never say you can’t, you will find a way.”

MAK­ING HIS POINT: Stephen Con­stan­tine talks to his In­dia play­ers at train­ing

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