Abel Ferreira’s cry at Maracanã after the final whistle symbolized the emotion at the size of the feat that the young Portuguese coach had just achieved. But it also represented his humility. A historic achievement, eternal glory, repeating the feat of a fellow countryman the following season.
Breno Lopes, Gabigol. Goal after 98 minutes, goal after 91 minutes. In Rio de Janeiro, in Lima. At Maracanã, at Monumental. Abel Ferreira, Jorge Jesus. History repeated itself. Portugal, once again, explored America. The script of Palmeiras champion of the Copa Libertadores has the Lusitanian flavor and green party, after the victory by 1-0 in Santos finalthis Saturday in the single game final.
At first glance, Abel and Jorge have nothing in common. Nothing! The serenity and humility of the young Palmeiras coach in no way reminds the wide-open confidence in shouting of the experienced Jorge Jesus. But who said there is a perfect formula in football? The two, each in their own way, crossed the ocean to make Portugal proud.
«I know you guys like to compare. We, Portuguese coaches, share knowledge. Jorge Jesus has a way of being and being different from mine. He managed to succeed, just like me », said Abel Ferreira, shortly after the title at Maracanã.
Abel won the alviverde group not only for the quality of his work, guided by many studies, but also for his humble, serene and supportive way. The good atmosphere, affection and respect were evident at the press conference after the final, when the athletes entered the interview room and gave the coach a bath of water, ice and champagne. Speaking directly and always emotionally, he was also moved to tears when talking about miss the family, who continued to live in Portugal.
On the day of his presentation to Palmeiras, a remarkable attitude showed how Abel’s treatment would be, not only with the players, but also with everyone in the club. The Portuguese gathered the employees of the training center, from cooks to security guards, and made a speech highlighting the importance of each one. Last Wednesday, these same employees met to applaud and encourage the delegation that left the CT bus in São Paulo to go to the airport and travel to Rio de Janeiro, in an exciting scene.
«Nobody wins alone in football. The players talk to me, talk to psychologists, talk to the kitchen staff. It was my family, I lived there. I am much better coach, but I am worse uncle, worse brother, because I left my family there. You don’t know how much I cried for homesickness. I cried a lot and left the field so nobody could see how much I was crying. I love my daughters and wife and I crossed the Atlantic before something happened », he said.
In just three months of work, Abel Ferreira raised the level of Palmeiras football. The young 42-year-old coach arrived in Brazil to replace the dismissed Vanderlei Luxemburgo, who started the Libertadores campaign and whom the Portuguese made a point of thanking this Saturday. In a short time at the São Paulo club, he won the Libertadores, which was the first title of his career as a coach. In addition, he is in the final of the Brazil Cup, will play in the FIFA Club World Cup, the Recopa Sul-Americana and still has mathematical possibilities of being a Brazilian champion.
Jorge Jesus won six titles at Flamengo in just over a year, including Libertadores and Brasileirão, but ended up returning to Benfica by personal will. With his success in Brazil, the experienced 66-year-old captain, who had already been champion at Benfica and Al Hilal, paved the way for more European coaches to work in the country. Before Palmeiras eliminated River Plate, from Argentina, in the semifinals, the two Portuguese even talked on the phone, and Jesus supported Abel in the fight for the cup.
Between similarities and differences, the two managed to achieve the biggest goal of the South American clubs. Each in their own way, both were champions in 2019 and 2020.
«I see some similarities between the two, but also differences. Jesus was a more ready coach, more clumsy, as we say in Brazil. He arrives and quickly imposes his style, and the players respect him a lot. I remember interviews with Flamengo players marveling about training that they had never done before, that the tactical formations were very different from what was seen in Brazil. And the effect is there, he won Libertadores and other titles with all the merit », analyzes journalist Francisco de Laurentiis, from ESPN Brasil.
Abel Ferreira had to earn that respect first, as he is an unknown coach, but I think he quickly gained that respect. The players love him, consider him an extremely intelligent coach, a good motivator and a good coach in the tactical aspect, who likes to train a lot, presents very detailed game plans of the opponents. I see certain similarities, but I believe that Jesus has already reached a high level, and Abel had to earn that respect and achieved it quickly. »
Abel Ferreira overcame obstacles at Palmeiras in a pandemic year, with no public at the stadiums, with a tight schedule and many injuries. Even so, he never lost his temper and always worked with what he had without complaint, taking advantage of a large cast. The conquest of Libertadores may have just been the beginning of a successful career for the coach, who previously commanded Sporting, Braga and PAOK, from Greece.
From now on, if you stay in Brazil longer than Jorge Jesus, the young technician born in the city of Penafiel will have the possibility to increase his curriculum, achieve higher flights in a future in Europe and, who knows, reach the level of historical names in Portuguese football.