|Job||English Football Coach|
|Taiwan Head Coach|
|Org||Taiwan National Team|
|Club as Coach||Shanghai Shenxin [Assistant Coach]|
|Arsenal Ladies [Youth Coach]|
|Portsmouth [Youth Coach]|
|Watford [Youth Coach]|
2016 09 07 Retrieve
[Former Welwyn Garden City FC player Louis Lancaster is assistant coach at Shenxin alongside manager, and fellow Brit, Gary White] Shortly after the graduation, Monday, June 27 to be exact, my phone rang at 3am and it flashed up Shanghai. It was the gaffer telling me to wake up, splash my face with water and that he would be calling me back in five minutes. He presented me with an opportunity to work in China as a first team assistant coach for a huge club with great ambitions and talented players. He told me I needed to call him back in 25 minutes with a decision.
My wife and I spoke and it was immediately clear that it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down, however she wanted to know about the gaffer. I explained I believed in him because he had always impressed me on the courses we were on together. The level of detail he would go in to, his man management of players all followed through with his passion and desire is something which is very infectious
[Prior to heading to China, Lancaster worked at Premier League Watford FC for three seasons developing players aged 12-18] Culturally so far it has been an amazing experience. It is helping me become a more rounded global thinker which I know in the future will allow me to communicate better with players from all over the world. Our mentor Dick Bate always said coaching is about communication
This club has a huge history, massive resources, superb training facilities, competitive player budget, but most importantly a very strong ambition. It’s a world class club and our job is to get them back into the Super League
[Coming up against some of the biggest names in world football is becoming the norm for Lancaster who is taking it all in his stride] This league is the second highest spending league in the world. Every week we come up against players such as Ramires [ex-Chelsea], Jo [ex-Manchester City] and Fabiano [ex-Porto and Sevilla].
To be honest there are star names playing and in management that we have come up against. However, I put that aside because no matter who they are or how they have arrived here in China, I am here too on my own personal merit.
We are all on the same playing field so coming up against Fabio Cannavaro on the touchline is the same as it was against Clarence Seedorf, Ciro Ferrara and the others. What I will say is that all of them have been very respectful and a pleasure to talk to.
[Like the big names, Lancaster is in the game to challenge for success and to continue his personal development] My long term goal is to win trophies. I’m certainly not here just to take part. To support this goal I constantly invest time in developing myself so I can meet the demands of a world class coach in turn adding value in everything I do
2019 05 22 Retrieve
[Louis Lancaster talks about his personal sacrifice] My dad wasn’t well when I left and I potentially wasn’t going to see him again. So, I asked him: ‘What do you want me to do – do you want me to go?’ He knew how passionate I am about football; he had introduced me to it. He said ‘you’ve got to go’ but I knew I might not see him again. I left on 12 July and my dad passed away on 2 August. I didn’t even come back for my dad’s funeral
[When he moved to China in 2016, he did so without his wife and two young children] I wanted to be challenged. I wanted to be working with the best players and I learned at Watford the big difference between sport for all and sport for the elite. I just wanted to work with elite players and add value that way
[The move from youth football in England to first-team football in Asia seemed like the perfect step for a coach with big aspirations, but it was a decision laced with risk] What people see and don’t see can be different. They assume you’re in first-team football and in China, so it’s all sunshine and rainbows, but it was a really ruthless environment. This is why I always ask people if they really want to progress
My life was simple at Watford. The money I earned this month paid for next month, and the money I earned next month paid for the month after. Then I’ve gone to China and signed a contract that says if we lose three games in a row, I can get sacked with no compensation. I left my two children and my wife at home. Then I went out there and lost my first game, then lost the second
We took over a team that was second from bottom. It was after the transfer window so we’ve got a depleted squad. We can’t bring anyone in and morale is down. We took them from 15th to eighth in the league by the end of the season and it was a fantastic experience. It was ruthless and gruelling, but enjoyable
[Louis Lancaster talks about his experience as Taiwan Head Coach] It’s like every job, there are different challenges. For this one, it’s not just about winning on the pitch because our job is to inspire the nation’s children too. We played one game against Bahrain and created a motivational video for the kids. It was Taiwan’s national day and we were 1-0 down in the 89th minute, but we won the game 2-1. It was unbelievable
There was a little boy among the fans who was crying and I show the players that clip and say: ‘He will never forget that moment for the rest of his life’. We need to make more moments like that. We have a huge responsibility to inspire the next generation of players and, to do that, everything has got to be right and be better. We have to win, but win in style
[When asked about his ultimate aim, he could not be clearer] I want to win trophies. Some people want fame, some want money, but I’m not interested in that – I just want to win trophies. If you do that, all that other stuff comes too. I’m a winner and I want to work with the best players, contribute, add value and win trophies
2019 09 05 Retrieve
[Louis Lancaster says Jadon Sancho has only shown one tenth of what’s to come] I think he’s going to continue to surprise people. His game is so fast-paced, it’s very direct. When a player gets the ball, they’ve got a soft option, get the stats up, make the simple pass, or you can make it 75 per cent of the time but everything’s forward. What you’re seeing from Jadon is a 19-year-old boy with a lot of maturity. It’s great that Gareth Southgate is giving the youth a chance, other countries use these flair players because they trust them - they can be a hero or a villain. They might not track that runner or something like that, but when it’s the 89th minute they might produce something magical.
It’s like a computer game - you might have a favourite character because they have a signature move. I think players need that. With Jadon, the best players might have two aspects of their game which are 10/10, but a couple more which are five or six. But those signatures help them get where they are. When you’re working with players like Jadon, you have a question to ask yourself ‘do you develop the strength, or work on the weaknesses?’ I worked on my Pro Licence on ‘what is a maverick? How do you get the best out of them?’ I interviewed managers, players and mavericks themselves - and I interviewed Jadon. Even when he was younger he was completely fearless, and he always wanted to be the best player. I always ask young players three questions. The first is ‘what’s the dream?’ When I asked him, he looked me clear in the face and said ‘I want to play for one of Europe’s top clubs and represent my country’. I asked him why? And he said ‘to make my family proud of me’. He can’t have been any older than 13
[Lancaster, who is now coach of the Chinese Taipei national side, added on a player he spent two years with before Sancho headed to Manchester City] I’m extremely proud of what he’s doing, but I don’t even think you’ve seen one tenth of what’s to come. He’s going to keep pushing and pushing and pushing. When he was a kid in training, if we had 14 players, I don’t like to go 7 vs 7 just because it looks beautiful. I’d say to him, we’re going to go 9 vs 5 instead, and he’d say put me on the five because he wants to be challenged. You’re talking about a young boy, willing to move away from his family for sport. That takes a lot of guts. You can measure him on his dribbles, his goals, but how much courage does that take? How much courage does he have? It takes a lot. That’s someone who has a dream and will do anything to get there. Steve Redgrave, Usain Bolt, it’s like an iceberg - you only see the top, not the stuff going on underneath how they got there. That’s him
2019 11 04 Retrieve
[Having nurtured Jadon Sancho’s talents, Louis Lancaster is now attempting to do the same for the footballers of Taiwan] It was a really good introduction into coaching for me. The ladies’ game is slower, so it enabled me to pick things up quicker, whereas if I’d have gone straight into the men’s game, I may have missed certain things
[Lancaster says of Jadon Sancho the England attacker] I was wowed with my first impression of him. He just seemed to find it all so effortless. I am a big believer that the best players develop themselves. Jadon was driven, hardworking and just wanted to be the best. People have asked me if I helped make him the player he is and my answer to that is that I facilitated it in some way. That is different to teaching, but if he called me to thank me, I’d say thank you to him because he challenged me to be a better coach
[Louis believes his job is about more than just teaching skills on the training pitch] I’ve realised just how far coaching is down the list. You have to be a good person, otherwise you won’t get the best out of people, and you have to be a good communicator, too. It’s alright telling one of your players where to put a pass, but I also want to know about their lives; about their families, girlfriends or wives
[Former Wigan Athletic midfielder Tim Chow, now at China’s Henan Jianye, made his last Taiwan appearance two years ago but Lancaster is hopeful he will return to the international fold] I tell the boys that it is okay to lose a game of football, but that we cannot lose to ourselves and to remember our values. We were up against some world-class players when we played Australia. Our boys are mostly semi-pro, and one of them was marking Aaron Mooy, who is in the Premier League. That, for me, is also what winning looks like; competing on the same field against players like that. We don’t have a massive pool of players, but what we do have is chemistry, which is something money can’t buy
[Another challenge for Lancaster is learning Mandarin] I found out there are only 4,000 words in Mandarin, which I thought was a good thing, but then I learned that each of those words has a different tone to them
[Lancaster initially decided to pursue pastures new when he was appointed assistant manager at Chinese side Shanghai Shenxin under White. His move there, however, was tinged with immense sadness as his father died not long after he arrived in the Far East] He had cancer and was on the cusp of deteriorating when the opportunity to go to China came round. He came to see me and I told him if I went I might not see him again and asked what should I do, but he told me he didn’t want to hold me back
I left for China on July 12 and dad died on August 2. We had a game against Wuhan and, afterwards, one of our players told me I didn’t have to suffer alone and that we were all family. Because of the humidity, all of them were dripping in sweat and they all wrung their shirts and said the win was for my dad
[Lancaster, whose backroom staff includes fellow Brit Jamie Chessington, says] It is about making sacrifices. I had to pay £1,400 for my flights to Taiwan and would not have been reimbursed if I hadn’t got the job. If it wasn’t for technology like Skype, I couldn’t have taken it because I would never have seen my wife or kids. Some friends have said it is selfish to work so far away from home, but I am thinking long-term. Family comes first, so I am here for them. I am passionate about development and trying to inspire people. I’ve much more invested in coaching than just coaching and am fascinated by learning