Shanghai Shenxin chance for Welwyn Hatfield football coach
PUBLISHED: 12:56 07 September 2016
Italian World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro and his Tianjin Quanjian side were knocked off the top of the Chinese Division One after going down to a surprise 3-2 loss to Shanghai Shenxin.
Little to concern the folk of Welwyn Hatfield there you may think, however a job offer in the middle of the night in June saw a football coach from Hatfield land the position of a lifetime in the Far East.
Former Welwyn Garden City FC player Louis Lancaster is assistant coach at Shenxin alongside manager, and fellow Brit, Gary White.
The two first met in 2013 when selected by the English FA to complete the first Elite Coaching Licence and last year began the UEFA Pro Licence together.
White, who has coached the Guan, Bahamas and British Virgin Islands national teams, landed the Shenxin role in May and quickly added Lancaster to his management set-up.
“Shortly after the graduation, Monday, June 27 to be exact, my phone rang at 3am and it flashed up Shanghai,” Lancaster told the Welwyn Hatfield Times.
“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,” said the 34-year-old.
“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.”
China has seen some huge football transfer imports and is now gaining more publicity on these shores as the league is being featured on Sky Sports.
The record Chinese League transfer fee paid is the £42.5million for Alex Teixeira by JS Suning, while the likes of ex-Southampton striker Graziano Pelle moved to Shandong Luneng for £12million and Argentinian international Ezequiel Lavezzi headed to Hebei China Fortune from PSG in the summer.
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,” he said.
“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,” he added.
“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.”
The Chinese season comes to an end next month.