The sun is shining as bright as the wind blows in Lagos, south of the Portuguese coast. The crash of the waves of the Atlantic Ocean against Praia do Canavial and its jagged ocher slopes, Algarve gems. About ten meters higher, the balcony of a huge hotel facility, with a number of stars such as the Brazilian team in the World Cup, empty. On this November morning there was only one gentleman sitting inside the bar, near the bay window. For nine years, his name has led to the spotlight on the vocal chords of Ligue 1 spectators and broadcasters: Pedro Miguel Pauleta.
A soft piano melody covers the silence. Seleção tracksuit on the back, straight bust, frowning eyebrows, the Portuguese peeling a report, focused. At the age of forty-nine, time seems to be in slow motion on his face. Slim figure, the former striker still sports the same short haircut, though some are changing from brown to gray. A bunch of wrinkles surround his eyes. His eyesight has declined, as evidenced by the glasses he wears for reading and the magnified font of messages he receives on his smartphone.
But the Azores eagle’s eye is still sharp. For a decade, the federation has trusted its country to a role unparalleled in French football, that of coaching director. “I look after the selections of young international Portuguese players, from Under-15s to Spain, Explains in fluent French. Each of them has its own technical director, coach and staff. My role is to supervise and coordinate this group. » That week Pauleta oversees the selection of Espoirs, on a two-week training period in the Algarve.
This federal uniform occupies most of his daily life Well filled. But the former striker wears two other related hats: that of the ambassador of the Paris Saint-Germain academies and the founder of a football school in the Azores, which today welcomes 350 children, from the nine islands of his native archipelago. In short, three activities, three places and one common denominator: training young footballers.
“I never saw myself as a professional footballer.”
At first glance, Pedro Miguel Pauleta’s retraining looks curious, when we remember that he himself does not know any training center. There were certainly passages in the corridors of Benfica and then Porto, at 16 and 17, but both fleeting, due to the continental illness of a young Azorean. Attached to his mother, father and land. Until he was 22, Pauleta was a top scorer, yes, but he was a top scorer for the island. He develops at Santa Clara Club, the best on his island, at that time in the third national division, and now in the elite of Portuguese football. During the week, young Pedro switches between training and working as a water bag deliveryman. “I never saw myself as a professional soccer player!” He smiled and his features were amusing.
Then, a call from Jorge Gama, agent-turned-friend, calls him up for a trial at Portuguese club D2 in Estoril. He refused a new call, after long reflection and discussion with his girlfriend, Sandra. She becomes his wife, the eagle flies away and leaves its nest. He ruled Estoril, Salamanca, A Coruña, Bordeaux and then Paris. Chasing goals (91 in Bordeaux, 109 in Paris) as well as titles (Championship of Spain in 2000, the French Cup twice, in 2004 and 2006, in addition to the League Cup twice, in 2002 and 2008). Before the advent of Cristiano Ronaldo, he also became the top scorer in the history of Portugal, ahead of the legend Eusebio (47 goals in 88 matches).
Of the 329 goals he scored in 655 professional matches, Pedro Miguel Pauleta is of course keen today to pass on his goals to the youth. investment science » Hailed by Nantes’ iconic coach Raynald Denocks, ‘Scoring instinct’ Familiar with his former teammate and Bordeaux goalkeeper Ulrich Ramey, “His sense of professionalism” He is admired by his former PSG partner Jérémy Clément; In short, all the qualities that made him a ‘A world class striker’ And the “A rare player in modern football”According to his former coaches Eli Baub and Vahid Halilhodzic *. But ” More important “confirms to the person concerned his role as coach, “These are the values, with respect for others above all else.”
He tells you in the whites of his eyes: “When I launched my school in…