One-on-One: Benito Floro - I nearly became Spain's coach

The former Real Madrid coach speaks out about the standard of coaching in Spain and explains how he nearly ended up as head coach of the La Roja after Euro 2004
By Khalis Rifhan

One of the most highly respected coaches in Spain who commands the respect of his fellow colleagues, Benito Floro has always been rated as one of the very best in the business and is acknowledged as one of the fathers of Spanish football as we know it today. 

Referred to as “The Philosopher” due to his studious vision of the game, Floro’s career has taken him to Real Madrid, Japan and Mexico, and he was recently linked to the vacant Singapore national team post.

Speaking exclusively to Singapore, Floro spoke of his footballing journey in Spain as well as the seed planted by the Spanish football federation decades ago that has now seen the flowers start to bloom throughout most Spanish clubs and its national team today. 

“Fifty years ago in Spain, the federation created a school for coaches of the highest level with highly qualified instructors of the highest level in the three most important aspects of football - strategy, technical ability and physical preparation,” he explained.

“Because of this, the standard of coaches in Spain is very high due to the difficulty levels of the coaching courses in Spain. 

“Sooner or later this had to yield its fruits, and people now understand that it is much better to play an attacking combination game instead of say, counter-attacks or long ball attacks.”

Not only is Floro a coach, he is also a mentor to those who are keen to learn the ropes in Spain.

“My work as a coach and instructor isn’t for me to judge; however, it is evident that what I have learned from my instructors, I put into practice on the field and with aspiring coaches that I myself instruct," he elaborated.

Floro performed a Houdini-esque act in 1994, when he switched camps from Real Madrid to third division Albacete and took the Queso Mecanico to the top division of La Liga in 1996 after two consecutive promotions.

When asked about that remarkable achievement, Floro highlighted two crucial points that coaches needed to take note of regardless of the team they were coaching. 

“A coach has two important missions: teach his players to improve on an individual basis daily and also to teach his team to play whatever way they need to, on any kind of pitch, in any kind of circumstances to obtain the desired result," he asserted.

Floro revealed that he almost became the La Roja head coach following the resignation of Inaki Saez after the 2004 European Championship in Portugal, where Spain failed to progress to the knockout stages.

“After the European Championship in Portugal, the coach [Saez] resigned and he became director of football, and he recommended [to the FA] that I became the new head coach of Spain," he said.

“He recommended me due to my vision of the game and [how] my playing style fit in well with the way the youth teams were being prepared, which was the main reason for the massive success of the Spanish national team.

“But unfortunately, due to circumstances that were beyond my control at that time, it was not possible.”

After being snubbed by the FA, Floro went on to coach La Liga side Real Mallorca before making his journey to Ecuador and Tunisia to coach Barcelona Sporting Club and Wydad Casablanca respectively.