What does it take to reach top?

NF Academy Coach João Plantier
JOY OF FOOTBALL: Plantier says it is important to have fun on the football pitch

What does it take to reach top?

NF Academy director Joao Plantier has coached world class players. In this interview he shares his thoughts on what it takes to thrive on the football pitch.

Just a couple of weeks ago we spoke with our Academy director Goncalo Nunes on what it takes to reach the top of the football world. Nunes advised young players to look to Cristiano Ronaldo whom he describes as a perfect role model in terms of commitment.

This week we speak with the other Academy director, Joao Plantier. In this interview, Plantier emphasizes on the importance of diverse training. He also shares some of the lessons he learned from the former Real Madrid coach Carlos Queiroz.


You have been coaching a lot of players over the last couple of decades. Do you have any inspirational stories to share?

– For me, success in youth football cannot be measured only by becoming a top-level player. We also want to develop human beings trough sport, so signing a professional contract isn’t my only point of reference here. Having said that, I had the opportunity to coach players who made their entire journey from a small club to a professional club. Zeca, who now plays for FC Copenhagen and the Greek national team, is one example. Rafael Camacho is another one. Camacho did his youth training in Sporting and then went on to train in several English clubs until he joined Liverpool. Now he moved back to Sporting. A characteristic that I recognize from all these successful players is a certain kind of determination. They made football a priority and also had a contagious joy for the game. They wanted to improve every moment of every training.

ALSO READ: We are seeking talented players! See overview of our international programs

Zeca FC København Captain with NF Academy
Zeca is the captain to FC København and was awarded player of the year in the Danish Superliga in 2019. He is one of many players Joao Plantier has helped to reach a professional career.

Many young players are determined on becoming as good as they can possibly get, but they don’t always know what to focus on, especially when they practice by themselves outside regular training. Are there any specific skills they should put emphasize on?

– They need to enjoy the game, that is number one. I would also recommend them to play in different settings. They should play supervised as well as an unsupervised. Out in the street as well as on a dedicated a football pitch. Different skills come with different challenges, so a holistic approach is often needed to thrive.


How many hours should a player ideally put in on a weekly basis?

– I think even young players should play every day, but I don´t think they have to “train” every day if you know what I mean. This goes back to your last question, it is important to beware the joy of the game! “Street football” – as we call unsupervised football in Portugal – is therefore highly recommended. Street football is however not enough, especially for the players approaching their early teenage years.

NF Academy has a good track record in developing young players and we are confident that we can offer them something new and different.

They need different challenges. Many parents these days are therefore searching for something more for their kids. Some try to get them into private academies or send them to private coaches. This makes sense. Especially if their kids just get to play with their team two or three times a week. Some kids also don´t have professional coaches, which might be another roadblock for their development. We are however happy to welcome them all at NF Academy.
NF Academy has a good track record in developing young players and we are confident that we can offer them something new and different.

ALSO READ: Get international opportunities! See overview of local training camps in your country.

NF Academy Coach João Plantier
NF Academy Director, João Plantier has a long, impressive CV both internationally and locally in Portugal, and has already developed several superstars and team captains of European champions.

What kind of training can they do by themselves, if they don´t have the opportunity to join a private academy?

– Street football is an option as I mentioned, but for street football, you need someone to play with, obviously. If you don´t have someone to play with there is only so much you can do. You can of course work on free kicks or specific and passing skills by yourself. And yes, even dribblings. This is valuable, really valuable. It is however also crucial that you work on these things in a real-life setting and you can get that when you just play by yourself. I will however encourage all players to not give up. I have been to places like Kirkenes and seen how players develop in harsh climates. It is incredible what players can achieve when they put their mind to it. A brought environment can also harden your commitment and dedication.


You have have worked under the former Real Madrid coach Carlos Queiroz for a number of years. What did he learn you about player development that you are now passing on to the next generation of young Scandinavian football players?

– Queiroz gave me and many others now associated with NF Academy a structured way to think about football. He often put emphasis on certain principles of attacking and certain principles of defending. He made us ask questions such as: “What shall you do as a first defender?” If you want to chase the player holding on to the ball down to the sideline, how should your body position be?

When we arrange sessions we try to replicate situations that occur in games and hence expand the players understanding of the complexity of the game.

By breaking the game up in smaller pieces you get a more holistic of football as a game. It is also important to understand that everything that happens on a football pitch has a macro and a micro-level. Let me exemplify. You might have one player holding on to the ball and two-player chasing him. That is a very concrete situation right there. Outside this situation, you also have a number of players that have to be aware of their positioning depending on the micro situation and how that micro situation pans out. Will, the player holding on the ball or will he dribble? Will he lose the ball? The microlevel here dictates the macro level. By the same token, the macro-level also dictates the micro-level. Meaning – the player holding on to the ball has a number of options, depending on his teammates positioning, right? When we arrange sessions we try to replicate situations that occur in games and hence expand the players understanding of the complexity of the game. This understanding is something we try to pass on to the players of NF Academy as well.

Would you like to train with NF Academy or have questions about our program? Send us your request using the contact form below.


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Lähetetty: 11th Mar 2020

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