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Will Still: from Football Manager to Ligue 1

Will Still

Football Manager, and previously Championship Manager, have been two simulation games that have developed a large fanbase over the years and around the world, creating a taste for a side of football that was not always so appreciated, the coach’s Thanks to that, there are young people who dream of being coaches instead of wanting to be football players and decide to train to be one.

Although, recently there have been cases of managers who have reached professional clubs having started in Football Manager–the case of Will Still is not only the most famous but also the one that has gone the furthest to date.

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Born 30 years ago in Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium, Still is the son of Englishmen who moved there due to work. The current coach grew up with a great love for the world of football, where he tried to enter as a player and in parallel developed, along with his brother, a great passion for the Championship Manager and Football Manager games, which led him to realize that his place in football was not inside the pitch but to the side, as a coach. That is why, at only 17 years old and having played in the youth teams of clubs like Sint-Truiden and RAEC Mons and in various amateur clubs in Belgium, he decided to stop playing and start his formation as a coach.

His path led him to return to his parent’s homeland and start as an assistant coach in the Preston North End youth team, although shortly after he would return to one of the clubs where he was a player, Sint-Truiden, this time as a video analyst. From there he would go to Standard Liege in the same position and then to Lierse where he would combine the position of video analyst with that of assistant coach. Only a few months after arriving at the club, manager Frederik Vanderbiest was sacked, and Still took over as caretaker manager, achieving excellent results. However, the fact that he did not hold a UEFA A-level license, prevented him from coaching the club properly, so he had to return to his position as an assistant.

After Lierse went bankrupt, Still would sign up to be an assistant manager at Beerschot where he would also become the manager for a brief period. When the Spanish Oscar García took over as coach of Stade de Reims, the club decided to bet on Still as one of his assistants, although only a few months later, the young assistant would decide to return to his country to be an assistant at Standard Liege because he continued to perform his preparation to get his UEFA license in Belgium. For the start of the 2022-23 season, Still returned to Reims and after Oscar Garcia was sacked, he took over as interim manager of the French club. After a good start, Reims decide to announce him as their main manager for the rest of the season, making him the youngest manager in Europe’s top 5 leagues (English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1).

As of this writing, Stade de Reims are sitting ninth in the Ligue 1 above clubs like Lyon, with a record of 10 wins, 13 draws, and only 5 losses, something that is more than remarkable if we consider that Paris Saint Germain, the leader of the competition and perennial winners in France in the last decade, has 4 losses in the league.

As a fun fact, and one that has gone viral in the football community, Still’s work has been so good that Reims pays a fine of 25,000 euros for each game that the Belgian coaches since he still does not have the UEFA license that is required to train in Ligue 1. At only 30 years old, he is one of the coaches with the brightest future

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