Kolkata: No sportsperson is complete without the coach. As we look at the contributions and the accolades of the star, making them our role models, we often miss out on the unsung hero behind the light. The coach, who had spent his tiring hours, making them better, shaping them up as the icon they are. On this occasion of Teacher’s Day, we at Sportslight Media would like to honor the coaches who had immense contributions to our favorite athletes.
- Sir Alex Ferguson- Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably one of the greatest footballers to have ever graced the game. He came to Manchester United at the age of 18 as a prodigy in Football under Sir Alex Ferguson and left as one of the G.O.A.T for Real Madrid in 2009. Under Sir Alex from 2003-2009, Cristiano had an amazing stint which played a great role in the making of the icon he is today and, in that time, he accumulated a wide array of silverwares mainly three Premier League titles, a FA Cup, two Carabao Cups, a Champions League, and FIFA Club World Cup before making his move to Spain. Ronaldo had always been open about the contribution of Sir Alex in his life. In one of the recent interviews, after Cristiano made a historical homecoming to Old Trafford 12 years later, he said :
“As everybody knows, since I signed for Manchester [United] at 18, Sir Alex Ferguson was the key,” Ronaldo told United’s website. “I remember when we played against Manchester when I was at Sporting Lisbon.
“For me, Sir Alex Ferguson is like a father in football for me. He helped me a lot, he taught me many things, and in my opinion of course he had a big role because the relationship that we had, we keep in touch all the time, and he’s an unbelievable person.
“I really like him a lot and he was the main key for me to be in the position that I am, that I signed for Manchester United.”
- Pep Guardiola- Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi had always been known to have a natural talent that saw him as a world-class player, even before he joined Barcelona, but his transition from a world-class player to the Greatest Player of all time is only to be credited under Pep Guardiola. The Argentine had his best four years under the Spaniard in between 2008-2012 winning over 14 titles registering 211 goals along with 97 assists. Messi even received his first Ballon d’Or under Pep Guardiola’s management.
“He (Guardiola) has something special about him. I don’t know,” Messi told Spanish television channel La Sexta “He makes you see things in a certain way in terms of how he prepares for games, both defensively and going forward.”
“He could tell you exactly how the match is going and how you have to attack to win.” being very grateful about the Manchester City boss’ contribution in his career.
Not only Messi, but Pep Guardiola is also in fact credited with upholding of Barcelona as the most lethal and successful team under him, featuring icons like Carles Puyol, Xavi, and Andrés Iniesta.
3. Pullela Gopichand- Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu
Pullela Gopichand, known as the Dronacharya of Indian badminton, rescued badminton from obscurity and catapulted it into the spotlight, ensuring that India remains a cauldron of passionate shuttlers, erupting with new talent every now and then. In Gopichand’s hands alone, Indian badminton has seen a drastic transformation, reaching new heights, embracing glory, and even lingering for a time, all while maintaining remarkable constancy.
Indian badminton has soared since the Andhra Pradesh man took over as coach, aided by top-tier players such as 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal, 2016 Rio silver medallist PV Sindhu.
After observing how training works in Asian and European countries, Gopichand used that vast knowledge and applied those ideas to Indian shuttlers.
With him as a coach, India has won Olympic medals in the 2012 and 2016 Games, and two players – Nehwal reaching the top of the BWF rankings and Sindhu earning the World Championship title in 2019 – have had a long list of achievements.
4. Graham Reid- Indian Men Hockey team
The Indian men’s hockey team made history by winning a medal in the Tokyo Olympics. They ended the 41-year medal drought by defeating Germany 5-4 for bronze. It was enabled because of the famous Australian hockey Olympian Graham Reid’s coaching.
Since taking over as head coach of the Indian men’s squad in April 2019, the Aussie has instilled an aggressive mindset and a fast-paced style of play in the team.
The Indian men’s hockey team has reached to its highest-ever rating of No. 5 in the world under his guidance.
Reid has boosted several young athletes into the team, including Dilpreet Singh, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Mandeep Singh, and Varun Kumar, all of whom impressed at the Tokyo Olympics.
5. Ramakant Archekar- Sachin Tendulkar
It’s no surprise that Sachin Tendulkar is the biggest cricketing icon not just in India but also around the world. The Little Master broke records, created new ones rewriting history books but behind this, his success was undeniably an effort from his childhood coach Ramakant Achrekar who realized the talent and passion of the curly-haired kid and polished batting technique at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park ground so well that he went on to make his international debut at age of 16.
Acharekar aged 86, passed away in 2019 due to old-age ailments however, his influence on Sachin’s career was such that while making his final speech after retiring from international cricket in 2013, the batting legend had mentioned his beloved coach’s contribution.