When “Trakai” presented his new coach – José Antonio Vicuña, or just – Kibu Vicuña from Spain three months ago, there was a lack of skeptics in the public space who immediately “wrote off” the coach and accepted the club’s decision with dissatisfaction. From the first day in the club, the most important thing for Kibu was his work, trying to introduce his game philosophy and to find a common communication with the new players.
The first victory of K.Vicuña was against the Welsh team – CEFN Druids. Unfortunately, the victory did not convinced football fans. The things was changed, when team overcame the “Irtysh” barrier in Pavlodar (0:0; 1:0) and good game with Belgrade Partizan (0:1; 1:1) corrected the percentage of believers and non-believers of this specialist.
“Trakai” footballers do not shy away from a good words to coach, and most of all believe in his philosophy.
“When I am choosing a lineup for the match I really do not look at the player’s age or his passport. What matters is how they are playing. We have a lot of young players who are already fit to play in this level, so my responsibility is to let them do it. In UEFA Europa League qualification, we have shown that young footballers from Lithuania can achieve results. It makes me happy. This should be a pleasure for Lithuanian football also..
Our players are constantly invited to the Lithuanian national teams of all ages. In the second team we also have young players who are hard workers and if they continue to do so, in the near future will also be able to open the main team door, and the national team door as well. When I am watching the players, I try to watch not only what they are now, but I try to look at what they can be in the future. The majority of our young players are looking for a really good future, they just need to continue to work hard.”
In Kibu notebook is not a few contacts of the well-known contacts of world-famous footballers. For example, Athletic Bilbao midfielder Raul Garcia, Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta, or even Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui. The first two, Kibu trained in Pampolos Osasuna team, and with the third he is familiar since his childhood. They grew up in one yard, always remained friends as their parents. All three have congratulated Kibu after victory versus Pavlodar “Irtysh” team in the UEFA Europa League.
Coach, you are in Lithuania for three months. What is your first impression?
I feel great in Lithuania, I’m pleased with everything. Before arriving here, I did not know what to expect, but I liked what I found here. We had a very good experience in the UEFA Europa Qualification Round. At that time, the team has greatly improved, which is the most important thing.
In the league, we won three games and one draw with “Stumbras”, but in that match we were worthy to win. We played better, we controlled the ball longer, we had more opportunities, but we did not succeed. 10 points of 12 are a good result, but my priority is team development.
And how about the city, people?
Vilnius surprised me from the good side. It is a large, beautiful city with sincere people. I also liked other places: Kaunas, Jonava, Klaipeda, Palanga. I think Lithuania is a very beautiful country, and personally for me, Trakai is an incredible place. We were there with a few footballers from Spain and they were fascinated and surprised. Lakes, water – everything is incredibly beautiful.
Do you feel in Lithuania that you are a foreigner?
I do not speak in Lithuanian, but I do not feel like a foreigner. Here I am pleased and enjoy life and work. Many people speak English, so there are no problems. Sometimes Polish also helps.
What do you think, what would be the situation if you came to Lithuania not from Poland but from Spain?
Lithuania and Poland are similar countries if we talk about culture and some other things. The time spent in Poland now helps me in Lithuania, but most importantly, the football cultures of both countries have similarities. Of course, it would be harder if you came to Lithuania from Spain.
Please remind us, how do you arrived to Poland football league?
It was in 2007. I arrived in Poland and the first thing that got stuck was conditions and infrastructure. Not in a good sense. I worked in Warsaw’s Legia Club, which is the best in Poland. Imagine the view, the best team in the country had just one pitch for workouts and shared it with the academy. Something strange. True, things changed very quickly – great stadiums were built for the European Championships, and Polish football has taken enormous steps forward.
Another thing that surprised me here was the road infrastructure. In Krakow we had to drive more than 6 hours, despite the fact that the distance between cities is less than 300 kilometers. These were the biggest differences compared to Spain.
In Poland, you have always worked with the same coach – Jan Urban. What made you have been together for so long?
It all started in Spain as I headed one youth team, and he led the B team. He knew how I was working and training, so once he asked if I would like to work with him in Poland, of course I agree. We went and worked together really well. Of course, sometimes I thought that perhaps it was time to become a head coach, I had offers from Poland and Spain, but I decided to stay together. I did not want to throw everything in the middle of the season.
You have finally become the head coach in Lithuania. I will notice that in terms of football, for many coaches, this is not a dream country..
I think this is a great experience. The players I have met here are very demanding, committed, willing to improve. For the coach, this is very important. More importantly, we can already see the results. We are changing as a team, improving and going forward.
What “Trakai” needs to make the team equal with the “Sūduva” or “Žalgiris”?
I think that we need time, first. We also need to improve on many aspects, from better analyze of the rivals, improve the work of the academies, to stronger second team. It is very important that there are young players who want to compete for the place in the first team and that is how they are developing faster. With this project we are just starting, and in the future everything will be just better.
For coaches from southern countries are quite difficult to find a common language with Lithuanians. How about your case?
When you are working with a team, it’s important not just what you want. Equally important is what the players want. I am trying to understand them. We are talking and I think that we created a great atmosphere in the team.
Players in the team want to improve and it seems that they are happy with the way we go. We are discussing a lot, deciding how one or another thing is better and it contributes to our well-being. In this way, everyone feels important in the team, because that’s what it is. Every opinion is important. We also have individual meetings with football players in the team and we appreciate them. In other words, we are developing together.
Basketball coach Joana Plaza wrote a book in a free time in Lithuania. How do you spend your free time?
In fact, I do not have a lot of free time, because I am writing the master’s thesis and mentoring coaches from Spain for tactical things. When I have free time, I like to read.