You may have seen reported in The Sun or Metro that an unknown youngster has been named the new manager of Azerbaijani two-time Premier League champions Baku FC, based partly on his experience of playing the computer game Football Manager.
Vugar Guloglan oglu Huseynzade, a 21 year old Swede born in Azerbaijan is a former Business Management student at Boston University, and previously worked as a scout at sports consultancy Sport Business Nordic (SBN) in Stockholm, Sweden.
While it was reported that he had beaten off competition from former European Player of the Year Jean-Pierre Papin for the role, the Frenchman is expected to be given a role higher up the club’s heirarchy. That said, Swedish tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet reports that Huseynzade beat off competition from others with real-world management and professional coaching experience. He will also be working closely with Olivier Daccourt of Leeds, Everton and Roma fame, who will be joining as director of football.
He got his break as a result of bumping into the club’s vice-president at a hotel in Lithuania, and eventually left Stockholm for Baku to work as an adviser to the club in February. This month was promoted to manager of FC Baku’s A team (the club’s reserve team, despite claims in the British press that he was in charge of the first team), which is a post he will hold alongside that of ‘sports director’.
While Huseynzade made contacts in Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan during his time with SBN, his only experience with managing, coaching or playing at a football team is based in virtual reality.
“I’ve always wanted to work in football and have played Football Manager since 2002,” Huseynzade told the Scandinavian newspaper.
“I want to see the team qualify for at least the Europa League, which is where we want to be. There is all that is needed”.
His confidence is admirable, but with the team currently just above the relegation zone, it seems unlikely that his real world experience will be as smooth as that gained in-game. He has, however promised to use that favourite trick of all Football Manager players controlling smaller clubs – mining the cheap pool of Scandinavian talent.
“I can not say specifically, but we are in contact with a football agency and it’s about players who are known in the headlines”.
Can ‘Football Manager’ get me a job?
Attempting to use Football Manager experience in applications to become a real-life football manager has become a long-standing joke since John Boileau’s famous letter to Middlesborough chairman Steve Gibson back in 2006.
The admirably good-humoured Gibson politely responded in writing, declining his application on the grounds that European clubs would soon try to steal him away based on his “undoubted talent”.
So far, no-one has been made manager of a professional football club based solely on Football Manager experience.