As football fans, some of us are more prone to heartbreak than others. For example, a Manchester United fan can happily meet our clenched fist if they ever insinuate they’ve been through as many struggles as a relegation-threatened team. However, potentially nobody in the history of mankind has been as unfortunate as the often mocked, Hector Cuper.
Allow us to expand. The Argentine gaffer has been in the management game for well over two decades at this point, so essentially he knows a thing or two about professional football. Right now he’s managing Egypt towards a likely African Cup of Nations failure, and the reason we say that is simple – the track record.
Over the years, Cuper, who was actually linked with Hull last month, has had a rough time of it. Starting off with his work in the late 90s as the boss of Mallorca, a theme started to develop as Cuper spurred the team on to two cup finals in two years. There was the Copa Del Rey clash with Barcelona which they lost, followed by a place in the final showdown of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup – which they lost against Lazio.
A somewhat successful start to life in Europe perhaps, but things only got worse from there. Following a big money move to Valencia in 1999, Hector suffered the devastation of losing back-to-back Champions League Finals at the hands of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Those defeats on their own are tough to swallow, but to Cuper’s credit he stuck to his guns and kept clawing towards his dream of managerial success.
A well earned move to Inter Milan soon followed, during which the club choked on the final day of the season and handed the Serie A title to rivals Juventus. They weren’t first, they weren’t third – runners-up once more.
As the years went on, failure after failure greeted the most unfortunate man in football, until finally he had a chance for redemption. With Greek club Aris Thessaloniki, Cuper came up against Olympiakos in the Greek Football Cup Final. With everything on the line and his reputation at stake, they lost. Again. The cruel irony of football ripped away any hope of lifting a cup trophy up high, and some may say it was destiny.
So if you’re reading this and you want to break into the big scary world of football management, don’t let this detract you. If anything, this should be a tale of endless perseverance in search of the ultimate prize. Football is a wonderful game, but don’t let it’s beauty disguise the despair that inevitably comes alongside it.