|Guess who's back: Le Thuy Hai is back in action at FLC Thanh Hoa and expected to bring out the best. — Photo baodongnai.com.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — Football has a knack of drawing people out of retirement, no matter what their age. Many dedicate their lives to the "beautiful game", and letting go of something that's so important to them is a difficult and sometimes impossible decision to make.
Coach Le Thuy Hai is a prime example.
Hai, who was famous for dealing with star players with an "iron fist", came out of retirement last week at the age of 70 to become technical director of FLC Thanh Hoa for the upcoming V-League season.
After months of relentless pursuit the club finally convinced Hai to come out of his short-lived retirement, which was announced after he bid farewell to current V-League champion Becamex Binh Duong mid-season last year.
"At my age, the only reason there is to come back is the love for the sport. I was won over by FLC Thanh Hoa's dedication and their resolve to win," he said to the Culture&Sports newspaper.
Hai, who used to play for Locomotive Viet Nam FC and the national team during his playing days, was known to possess an imposing personality and would often make headlines with his bold comments.
When Binh Duong signed the three-time Viet Nam Golden Ball forward Le Cong Vinh in October 2014 with a record-shattering transfer amount Hai told the press that as Binh Duong's coach he was "the only star in the team" and Vinh, just like other players, must be content even if he has to warm the bench. He also made it clear that he would be leaving should the club's executives force him to put Vinh on the field just because he was "very expensive to sign".
Chairman of FLC Group, FLC Thanh Hoa's main sponsor, Trinh Van Quyet said he had confidence in the old coach's ability to lead the team and the club would spare no effort to assist Hai in delivering results.
"This year FLC Thanh Hoa received major investments both in term of personnel with high-quality footballers being added and upgrades to training facilities. What we were looking for was a leader with a strong voice and the ability to command respect from players," Quyet said.
The chairman vowed to leave all the technical decisions to Hai.
"Big names are often associated with big characters, especially those who are known to deliver results. I believe FLC Thanh Hoa today is a place where the best out of everyone can be brought out," he said.
This is the third time the old coach has taken charge of the team. Hai led Thanh Hoa during the 2001-03 and 2010-11 seasons. While he did not win any major title with the team, it's safe to assume that he knows Thanh Hoa better than any other coach.
"With his credentials and status, I'm confident to say that he is the man for the job," said Quyet.
One of the most successful coaches in V-League history, Hai won three V-League champion titles with Binh Duong in 2007, 2008 and 2014.
He will take on the post of technical director in FLC Thanh Hoa as he does not possess an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) coaching certificate.
Hoang Thanh Tung will stay on as FLC Thanh Hoa's head coach this season.
Hai's come back started well with an early season victory as FLC Thanh Hoa won a warm up tournament with four other V-League teams.
FLC Thanh Hoa's centreback Danny van Bakel, a Netherlands-native who received his Vietnamese citizenship last week, said "The club came third for two consecutive seasons and we are all burning with desire to win the title. I believe a good coach like Hai will be able to bring out the best from us players," after FLC Thanh Hoa beat Ha Noi FC 2-1 last Thursday during the tournament.
"Bringing the old coach back definitely produced a positive effort on both players and the club's managing team," the club's assistant coach Ngo Van Hoa commented.
"It feels like going home. Everything is familiar but this time I can really feel the club's resolve and ambition to win," Hai said. — VNS