February 27, 2021

Jill Ellis, the US coach, one step away from making history | sports

"Part of my job here will be to make this trip uncomfortable for you because the greatest learning is adversity." This was the phrase with which Jill Ellis, the US coach, was presented at the first talk she had with the dressing room. It was May 2014; she had 13 months to prepare for the 2015 Canada World Cup, a tournament that the American team had not won since 1999. Accustomed to working under pressure, Ellis, born in the United Kingdom in 1966, left her country at the age of 14. He won the 2015 World Cup and now, at 52, he is close to entering the history of football. If the United States beats the Netherlands on Sunday (17:00, GOL) in the World Cup final, it will become the first coach to win two World Cups in a row. Before that, only Gino Pozzo, the Italian coach, had managed it. Nazionale to lift the title in 1934 and 1938. Moreover, if the United States wins, a great favorite, it will have won four of the eight World Cups that have been played so far.

Of the 24 teams that have competed in the World Cup in FranceOnly eight have a woman on the bench. Two of them will fight for the title this Sunday in Lyon. Ellis on the one hand and Sarina Wiegman, Dutch 49, on the other. La Oranje, current European champion under the guidance of Wiegman, has qualified for the final in his second participation in a World Cup. In Canada, the Dutch woman was on the bench as an assistant.

Ellis has been watched with a magnifying glass in this tournament; and in the USA UU has received criticism for the game of his selection. But she, the daughter of a former commander of the Royal Marines who instilled her passion for football, has always defended that without adversity the work of a coach would not be understood; and it would not go far either. That's why I insisted on it in his first talk with the wardrobe five years ago. A few months after that conversation, Ellis decided to take the team on a tour in Brazil, where the logistics would put them to the test. I was looking for that. "One of the games was canceled by the time, it was very hot, the fields were very dry and we were booed by about 10,000 fans," he said.

"At the end of the trip, I explained to the expedition that I had looked for this type of conditions because we had to learn to face the potholes that could arise along the way. There are always adversities: the difference between winning and losing in elite sport is the ability not only to deal with those adversities, but also to thrive in those situations. It's something you have to learn as a coach too. Without those curves, it would not be technical, "he explained on the web coachesvoice.com.

The players appreciate it because they say that they know exactly what they want and know how to transmit it. In the US press these days they speculated on their future: maybe, even if they win the World Cup, Jill decides to leave for Europe in search of new challenges in a football that is beginning to grow. Before receiving a "substantial improvement", in the words of the Federation, of his contract last year, Ellis charged about $ 300,000 a year, below what Jürgen Klinsmann, absolute technician until 2016 (almost three million of dollars).

She always remembers the advice her father gave her when she started this adventure: "Train the game, do not train to keep your job". He has learned to deal with adversities, with pressure – Carli Lloyd acknowledged before the eighth that anything other than winning the World Cup, in the United States is considered a failure – and also with the long shadow of his predecessor, Pia Sundhage ( 2007-2012), extroverted, funny and with a lot of charisma.

To the letter, Jill followed the advice of her father, John, who took the family to Northern Virginia in the late 70s. The father was a long-time soccer ambassador to the British government, helped create programs of soccer all over the world (from Trinidad and Tobago to Singapore) and in 1981 he founded the Soccer Academy in Manassas (Virginia). Jill's life changed completely. She had never been able to play football in England (it was frowned upon and there were no women's teams). She did it in the park with her brother and with her brother's friends, who did not always admit her.

In the United States it could. "There I put on a kit for the first time. I remember that the coach asked me in what position he played and I looked at him funny and I answered him: it is that I do not know, "he told time later. The American Universities provide the footballers what European clubs have for men. But it was not always like this. That began to develop from the 80s, when the young Ellis landed in Virginia.

The national program was just beginning to take shape, there was no professional league and once the college was over, the girls also ended up with football. Ellis graduated in English literature, but his parents always said the same thing: "I want to play football." And they always tried to convince her to dedicate herself to something more substantial. While taking a master's degree she started working as an assistant coach and went up steps to become a national coach. "Being a coach was not a job in England and even in the United States it was seen as something strange when I arrived. What the US gave me was the opportunity to follow a path I had never really dreamed of. " That path can take her this Sunday to make history.

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