Igor Duljaj: It's hard when you just watch football

In the latest edition of Shakhtar’s interactive magazine, you can find an exclusive interview with Igor Duljaj. The Pitmen’s midfielder in 2004-2010 is now performing a new role – Shakhtar U21 assistant head coach. What’s it like? Let's find it out from Igor.

- Igor, what is it like to watch an official game from the bench as a coach?
- Emotions are different from those you experienced during a playing career. They are completely different! As a footballer, you could change anything right on the field. So now it is hard when you just watch. The player knows and performs the tasks set by a coach. A coach should follow a very multifaceted process and manage a large team. Of course, it is not easy. But I really like to be a part of that!

- Do you see now the coaching work in a new light? Do you see now what you could not think of two or three years ago?
- I would note a great responsibility. When all is well - people look at the team. When all is bad - at the coach. This is football, that's life. This is normal. It is important to understand that we are at Shakhtar, in the great club! As a player, I played in teams, where we always had to get positive results too. Therefore, in terms of the requirements, there is nothing new now.

- You are doing coaching courses: everyone seems to know what that means, but few have gone this school and know it from the inside. What have you learnt there?
- The process is very serious and complicated. We worked there from nine in the morning until seven in the evening. There have been several examinations... Teachers are of a very high level, professionals in their field. Each of them have taught me something. When I just started attending the courses, I realized how many different things I didn’t know regarding coaching! Then I had a practice at Shakhtar. And now it is actually continuing with my work as one of the assistant head coaches of the U21 team. I'm not in a hurry. The course was the first step. The second is happening now.

- What qualities do you cultivate as a coach? What do you already have and what do you need to acquire?
- Oh-oh, I have just started! There are still a lot of things to discover. Miguel told me: ‘Now you need to gain experience’. That's what I am doing now. When I used to be a player, I always admired the discipline and respect. These two things have remained and will always be with me. Discipline is the first condition, without which nothing can be done either in sports or in life in general. Everything begins with that.

- This is the basic principle of Mircea Lucescu, Lothar Matthaus and Oleg Kononov, coaches, under the leadership of whom you played.
- Yes, of course. I have learnt a lot from each of them. From Matthaus – to always believe in my team, no matter against whom you play. He demanded discipline and never looked at the names. For him, all the players represented the same level and the attitude toward everyone was equal. Mister is a great specialist, who has been working for many years and has extensive experience. The results of 11 years at Shakhtar speak for themselves. He is a great mentor for young players, who turn into super players. Kononov is also very competent coach, who looked a little forward. He was always searching for new things, looking at football from different angles. Now I'm learning a lot from Miguel Cardoso. He is a modern specialist, who knows a lot and spends 24 hours a day on football! It is incredibly interesting with him.

Full version of the interview can be found in our online edition. Shakhtar magazine is available for free download.