Visit IAAF special preview page
Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
Visit IAAF special preview page
Visit IAAF special preview page

Rivera attributes his coaching success to luck and hard work

The legendary Spanish coach, who many argue is the best manager the game has ever seen, remains humble to the core.
Valero Rivera IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Valero Rivera might pass off as just another foreign visitor if you happen to meet him on a Doha street. A peep into his profile, however, would reveal the impact the unassuming man has had on Spanish and Qatari handball.

The soft-spoken coach, who is also a tough taskmaster, enjoyed a 20-year golden run with Spanish giants Barcelona (1983 to 2003), before taking charge of the Spanish national team in 2008.

In 2013, he led them to their only International Handball Federation (IHF) World Championship title and was adjudged the best coach. He then took over the reins of the Qatar national team, helping them win an unprecedented silver medal at the 2015 IHF Worlds in Doha.

Despite all the successes he has enjoyed during the 36 years of his coaching career, Rivera has remained grounded and humble.

“I’ve always told people that I’m a lucky man, firstly because of my strong family and secondly, because of the successes I’ve enjoyed as a coach. The secret of my success is the strong support I’ve received from different club and national federation presidents I’ve worked under,” said the 66-year-old.

“I’ve got a lot of gratitude towards ex-Barcelona president Josep Lluis Nunez, Spanish Handball Federation president Juan de Dios Roman and Qatar Handball Association chief Ahmed Mohammaed Abdulrab Al Shaabi. They all pushed me to strive harder and outdo myself every time,” he told Inside Qatar. The coach also paid rich tributes to the young players he had at his disposal at different times of his career.

“Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working with exceptionally gifted and talented players from different generations. Training them was a pleasure, and they repaid my trust with multiple titles. I can say I was lucky, but it came about as a result of my hard work,” he said.

When Rivera first took charge of Barcelona in 1983, teams like Atletico de Madrid and Granollers had ruled the roost. Under Rivera, Barcelona became a force to reckon with and was virtually unbeatable in Spain and Europe.

Rivera helped Barca win a record 62 trophies, including five consecutive European Handball Federation Champions Leagues (1995-’96 to 1999-2000).

Despite his past successes, Rivera chose to live in the present and stay focussed on the immediate task ahead.

“I consider past as past. Whatever I’ve done earlier in my life doesn’t amount to anything if I can’t keep doing the same in the present. My current responsibility is the Qatar team and my immediate aim is to ensure they do well at the Olympic qualification tournament in October,” he signed off.