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Abel Ferreira, from obscurity to champion of Copa Libertadores

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Abel Ferreira was not really so unknown (at least for connoisseurs of Portuguese football) but it is still a particular case. A Portuguese manager coaching in South America who has just won the Copa Libertadores with Palmeiras.

Abel Ferreira is a 42-year-old Portuguese manager who had a period as a player that was developed entirely in his country. Abel Ferreira was a mostly compliant right back who did not stand out for his offensive attitude or for being a spectacular full back on a technical level, but he was a player who fulfilled his defensive functions. He is one of those players that managers tend to appreciate enormously for his ease in understanding tactics and complying with what is asked.

His most successful stage as a player was with Sporting Clube de Portugal, with which Ferreira won his only titles in football as a player (Taça de Portugal and Supertaça Candido de Oliveira). Something that caught the attention in Abel Ferreira when he was a player, is that at the same time he was a part-time teacher. Shortly after retiring, Abel began his career as a manager, first coaching youth teams at Sporting Clube de Portugal. Afterwards, Ferreira moved to the first team of Sporting Clube de Braga for a couple of years. From there, Abel Ferreira went to manage PAOK FC in Greece, a league that has bet heavily on Portuguese managers in recent years.

In one of the matches of the qualifying stage of the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League, Abel Ferreira’s PAOK FC eliminated Jorge Jesús’s SL Benfica, a team that had made a significant investment to bring in the experienced manager and players like Everton, Jan Vertonghen, Darwin Núñez, Luca Waldschmidt and Nicolás Otamendi. The elimination of Jorge Jesus’ team caught the eye of the Brazilian football world. Suffice it to say that a month later Abel Ferreira was announced at SE Palmeiras as a replacement for Vanderlei Luxemburgo.

The new manager arrived in Brazil without his family to focus 100% on his job at Palmeiras. Several players highlighted that Abel Ferreira built a family in the club mixing very young players from youth teams like De Paula or Gabriel Menino with veterans such as Luiz Adriano, Weverton or Gustavo Gomez. This last Saturday, SE Palmeiras beat Santos FC in the last minute of extra time, which meant his first title as manager: the 2020 Copa Libertadores. Congrats Abel!

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