To read more about my managerial journey, check out #FM17: Jesjua Angoy-Cruyff
I pity young Benjamín Agüero Maradona. Having to live up to the reputations of his mercurial male heritage is hard enough, but throw in the quasi-paternal relationship with Lionel Messi and you have a boy who will struggle to make any real mark on his seemingly pre-destined path towards footballing greatness. Believe me, I am one of few people on the planet who can empathise with the hopeful wunderkind.
My father was that odd paradox of a successful footballer – a third choice keeper at a major club, in his case FC Barcelona during the late 1980s and early 1990s. For most kids, he would’ve had a utopian job. To me, it was irrelevant. Don’t get me wrong, I love my old man, but his achievements were slightly outdone by my uncle Jordi.
Uncle Jordi was absolutely brilliant. Not only did he start for Barcelona at the same time as dad, but he also managed a few seasons at Manchester United under Sir Alex! But, and I think you know where this is going now, even that was a relative disappointment for our family. After all, when you’re descended from the great Johan Cruyff, the only way up is to emulate the playing achievements of someone like the aforementioned Maradona.
For a few years, I actually thought that I might be able to do it. I had been drafted into the Barça youth team when I was 15, and I really thought I could rise through the ranks like some of the players around me. After all, Pep Guardiola, the new boss, was not only a former youth team coach but also a good friend of the family. What could possibly go wrong?
In a nutshell; everything. I never really made the grade at La Masia, and next thing I knew, I was being shuttled around countries in search of consistent first team football, constantly dropping down leagues in a vain attempt at finding my level. My only consolation was the undying support of my grandfather. After all, if the great Johan Cruyff thought you were good enough, surely I just needed to keep at it?
His death earlier this year jolted me back to reality.
It forced me to confront the fact that I just wasn’t good enough on the pitch. I wouldn’t even be able to emulate my father’s meagre achievement of nine league matches for Barcelona. I had to find another way forward, and luckily for me, opportunity came knocking in the form of an old friend.
The only happy and positive time in my short career had been the two years I had spent at Wigan under Roberto Martinez. Shorn of all my normal friendships back in Catalonia, Martinez took me under his wing and really helped me develop my game. In the end, I was short of the required ability, but I left the DW Stadium with fond memories and a lasting relationship with the gaffer. In fact, Martinez was the only person outside my immediate family who I had told about my doubts of continuing in football.
Thus, when Gary Caldwell surprisingly quit earlier this summer after leading Wigan back to the Championship for the 2016/17 season, my old Spanish boss strongly recommended my name to Dave Whelan and the new Wigan Chairman, his grandson David Sharpe. While Whelan was initially unsure, David and me had really struck up a friendship during my time in England, and we were eventually able to bring the old man round. In the end, I have a feeling that my last name convinced him I was good enough.
However, the job didn’t come easy. Despite their success last year, Wigan have one of the more underwhelming squads in the league, and there is almost no money to add to it. In fact, the only new additions are the ones Caldwell organised before his departure. I’m not even sure that I am going to get any money in January.
Honestly though, I shouldn’t be complaining. I have a job I scarcely deserve, and a chance to finally, possibly try to live up to the family name. First, though, I need to consolidate my position with the Latics.
I may not have had the talent to become a professional footballer, but that doesn’t mean I have to throw in the towel. My name is Jesjua Angoy-Cruyff, and I am determined to become the next great Football Manager!
Check out the next article in the series, ‘A Summer of Confusion‘