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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Soccer Manager Who Got His Start in a Video Game

  • Will Still is unbeaten in 12 matches as Stade de Reims' manager.
  • Still got his start in coaching after playing the video game "Football Manager."
Ligue 1

Will Still’s managing career began in a video game — and has since evolved into one of European soccer’s great narratives.

Since taking over as full-time manager of Stade de Reims, Still and the Ligue 1 club are unbeaten in their last 12 matches — most recently included a stunning 1-1 draw on the road against French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

Still’s journey to get to this point has been remarkable.

After playing the popular video game “Football Manager” at the age of 17, Still decided to pursue a career in coaching, landing his first job as the U14 assistant manager of English club Preston North End in 2011.

In 10 short years, the Belgian-English national rapidly ascended the European managing hierarchy, eventually landing an assistant role with Reims under manager Óscar García.

When García was sacked on October 13, Still was named the interim boss — and had the interim tag removed a month later after the team went unbeaten in five matches.

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The 30-year-old’s climb to the top has been so fast that he hasn’t even had time to get his UEFA Pro License yet — a detail that costs Reims a £22,000 ($27,214) fine every time he takes the field to coach.

It’s well worth it for the French side, which now finds itself 11th in the Ligue 1 table due to the heroics of its gaffer — who still can’t quite believe the position he’s in.

“You reflect on it and think, ‘Why the hell am I doing this? How am I in the position to be coaching against these guys?’” told the Daily Mail about managing against the likes of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar.

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