The Spanish Agustín Lleida, the main culprit of the success of Alajuelense

The Spanish has restructured the quarry model and its decisions as sports director have led the first team to lead the Costa Rican championship.

The alarm clock of Agustín Lleida (Monzón, 1985) sounds every day at 5 in the morning. “In Costa Rica we wake up soon because of the heat. At 7 o'clock we are having breakfast in the sports city and at 8 o'clock it is the training of the first team ”, he recounts after almost a decade in Central America. First as director of the physical training department of Pachuca, with which he won a Clausura and a CONCACAF Champions League that allowed him to participate in the 2017 Club World Cup, and now as sports director of Alajuelense, a sleeping giant who has entrusted in Spanish the restructuring of grassroots football and the future of the first team.

“I met Marco Garcés in England and in 2011, when he was hired to restructure Pachuca Club, he took me with him. The business model changed and the Group went from having a team to own five in Mexico, Chile and Argentina. They remodeled the quarry and in seven years they obtained more than 100 million dollars in players. I was present in all that change and Alajuelense, who wanted to do something similar, went to look for me in Mexico. I still don't know through whom or how, ”says Agustín Lleida, whose work in Costa Rica begins to bear fruit.

The beginnings were not easy. Before making the jump to the first team, Agustín Lleida was responsible for restructuring the base football. “I spent a year coming and going from Spain every 15 days. The first thing I said is that you had to build a school. We reached an agreement with the Ministry of Education and founded a school so that our players could be trained within the sports city. We set up the first residence and structured a network of scouts throughout the country. ” So far so good. “As we started to sign players from all over Costa Rica, more talented players started to arrive at the residence, so we had to unsubscribe 70 of the 180 kids we had in school. We also got rid of eight trainers and all physical trainers. A tremendous mess formed because no one had witnessed such a severe restructuring before. ”

“I had contact with Huesca the year they went up to First. I'm from there and I'm sure that at some point I have the opportunity to work at home. ”

Despite the skepticism, Alajuelense's fans were aware that their club needed a change and the results began to prove Lleida right. It was then that the Spaniard also obtained the keys of the first team, leaving the quarry in the hands of his compatriot Vidal Paloma. "It's the centenary year and they offered me to unify everything I was creating in the quarry with the First Division team." The restructuring, as expected, was also drastic. “We dropped several players, including two captains. I brought a coaching staff with whom I had worked for many years in Pachuca and signed young and experienced players. A tremendous mess was mounted and that made the pressure enormous. I tried to make people see that when you make many changes it is difficult to get immediate results, but they have not won for many years and that translates into frustration. ”

Luckily, Alajuelense leads the Costa Rican First Division table with 12 points ahead of its top rival, Saprissa, who won 2-5 on the last day: "People celebrated it as a title." The manudo team marches at a cruise pace, although to end six years without titles they will still have to prevail in the 'playoff'. “The superiority is clear, but we haven't won anything yet. The liguilla format may seem unfair, but I like it more because it favors the sale of the product. In Europe there are leagues that end in April. That does not happen here because, although you are very superior in the regular phase, the final playoffs are another story, ”values Agustín Lleida.

Despite living "very comfortable" in Central America, Agustín Lleida acknowledges missing a country as "spectacular" as Spain. "The goal in Costa Rica is to turn Alajuelense into a self-sufficient club that can continue to belong to its people for another 100 years." Then it will be time to return home. “I had contact with Huesca the year they went up to First. Now they are trying to carry out a model similar to ours, with their own sports city and a residence for the players. I am from there, from Huesca, and I am sure that at some point I have the opportunity to work at home ”, sentence

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