Coaches' Insight | U16 Head Coach Paul Osam
Name: Paul Osam
Role: Republic of Ireland Under-16 Head Coach
Began the role: 2015
St Patrick’s Athletic U21 Assistant Coach
St Patrick’s Athletic U21 Head Coach
Bray Wanderers First Team Assistant Coach
FAI Ireland Futures Group Assistant Coach
FAI Emerging Talent Regional Head Coach
What is the one key attribute you need as a coach?
There’s a multitude of skills that you need but I believe honesty and credibility with your players is above all. You need to work hard, there’s no substitute for hard work - as a player or as a coach. Nothing comes easy and you have to be prepared to self-analyse and be critical of yourself at times and praise yourself at other times.
What is your favourite thing about the job?
The challenge. I love playing against other nations, whether it’s a powerful, middle-tier or even a smaller nation because they all present different challenges. I love the preparation for the games and analysing the opposition and working with the staff and players to formulate a game plan and seeing that plan executed. That’s the buzz I get from it, when you see something you’ve worked on come through.
Any pre-match rituals?
I’m not really superstitious. I don’t like the hour-and-a-half period before the game when you arrive at the ground as it can be a lonely time for a coach. I keep that time for myself, I will wander onto the pitch but I tend to stay in the dressing room and use that time to pre-empt what may happen in the game.
What one message would you give to a player to keep with them throughout their career?
I would say be as professional as you possibly can in everything you do – so not just on the pitch. It’s massively important for young players to be professional in every aspect of their life. If it can affect your performance, be as professional as you can be about it. There’s a lot of players who are very talented but don’t fulfil their potential because they’re not professional in other areas. Then you have other players who may not have been as talented go on and have great careers because they were professional in everything that they did. I always try and educate the players about this.
Which coach/manager – from any sport – have you taken your greatest inspiration from?
I would say Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool. I don’t support anyone from the English Premier League, I will watch any football, but I look at what Klopp has done to get the best out of players and it impresses me. I don’t know him but from interviews and articles about him he seems very humble and very honest. One thing that sticks with me after is after Liverpool won the Champions League he embraced everyone, Spurs players too, you could see the sincerity in those bear hugs. You can see it’s important to him that he needs to be part of the group, that he needs to be credible, sincere and love the players and have the players love him back. I think that goes a long way in getting performances from the players.
Favourite match you coached and why?
It would be the 2016 Victory Shield win against Scotland in Edinburgh. We had a great group that included Nathan Collins, Adam Idah and Jason Knight but the Scotland team of that year were called the ‘gold generation’ of players. In fact, one of the players from that squad was Billy Gilmour who is in the Chelsea first team. This was a huge game in Scotland it was on the front page of the local newspaper and it was the last game of the tournament. The way it worked out was either of us could win the Victory Shield - we needed to draw and Scotland needed to win. We won the game 3-0 and it was one of the best performances I’ve seen from any group, over all the years, and they executed the game plan to perfection. It was a fantastic achievement to win the Victory Shield in only our second year competing in it.
What team or match from any era do you wish you could have coached?
The game I would have loved to have coached in would have been the 2005 Champions League Final between AC Milan and Liverpool. But not from Rafa Benitez’s perspective but Carlo Ancelotti’s.
To be 3-0 up and go on and lose a game from that point is really tough, and it’s happened to me when we were 3-0 ahead at half-time against Denmark but lost the game 4-3. The learnings Ancelotti would have taken from a game of that magnitude would have been massive.
Why I would have loved to have coached that game is it’s a massive challenge to keep your players motivated in that position and inadvertently they can take their foot off the pedal and the opposition in that situation can only get better in the second half. It’s like planning for a completely new game at half-time. I would love to be in that position again, because I got it wrong against Denmark, so to have a similar scenario in a Champions League Final, I would like to think I would have done things differently to what I had done previously and got the win.