The ultimate Football Manager challenge always seemed too tough and an incredible commitment but I decided to take the plunge nearly two months ago and haven’t looked back.
After 506 games I’ve managed in South Africa, Singapore, Australia, Portugal, China, Belgium and I’m now back in Portugal.
I’ve managed two countries: Brunei and Belgium and I’ve won one champions league, the Asian, among many other trophies including the South African Nation First Division Cup and the Chinese Super League three times consecutively.
I’m not sure how I managed to bag a job as Melbourne Heart’s manager after being in charge of Witbank Spurs and Duli Pengiran Muda Mahkota but I did and after two years there the A-League’s five foreign player rule proved too restrictive and I looked for pastures new.
I applied to several jobs and was offered the Maritimo hotseat. They were competing in the Portuguese Premier League and lacked money but not talent. I believe I took them to fourth place before I was offered the Guangzhou manager’s role in 2023 just a year after joining Maritimo.
At first I laughed at their offer but then I saw how rich they were and realised it was a great opportunity to win my first champions league despite various strong clubs in Asia, especially in Japan and Saudi Arabia.
I spent three whole seasons at Guangzhou managing to win the Asian Champions League (ACL) in my third and final year with a comfortable 3-1 win against Fuli, perennial runners-up to us in the Chinese first division.
Managing Guangzhou is one of the most fun jobs I’ve had on any Football Manager game. Having at least £20m in the bank all year round due to rich owners meant there were no cash flow worries and we could improve facilities whenever I wanted. It was frustrating that many players didn’t want to come to us though due to our league’s unimpressive reputation.
After winning the ACL I felt it was time to move on if I am ever to win the champions league on five continents. I feel like we could’ve broken countless records together though. We did become to most successful club in the Chinese Super League in my last season there, however, with a ninth title.
After quitting Guangzhou it took more than a year to get another job. I was pleasantly surprised when the Belgium FA entrusted me with their top job. I only wanted it so I could improve my reputation though and within a few months I bagged the hotseat at Benfica.
Benfica in 2027 are not the club they used to be but they still have good youth recruitment. So that’s where I’m up to. It took almost 13 years to win my first champions league due to starting with sunday league footballer reputation and now I have a huge challenge ahead to win Benfica’s first European Cup in 65 years.