ULLEVAAL (VG) He was able to take AFP ten years ago and has worked full time since he passed ordinary Norwegian retirement age. Only one national team manager in Europe is older than Norway’s Lars Lagerbäck (72).
VG has reviewed all 210 member countries belonging to the FIFA rankings and their coaches – and the overview shows that Norway’s Swedish scores high on the list of the world’s oldest national team managers.
A couple of (literally) old acquaintances do the same: The 73-year-old Dutchman Guus Hiddink is now the coach of his sixth A national team. He rules the island state of Curacao, while peer Óscar Tabarez (73) has gone on his 15th national team season in Uruguay in the hope of taking the nation to the World Cup for the fourth time under his leadership.
Otherwise, Bosnia’s national team manager Dusan Bajevic (71) was a Yugoslav World Cup player with three goals in three matches already in West Germany in 1974, and the oldest of all is Albania’s Italian coach Edoardo Reja.
He was born a few weeks after the acts of war in World War II were over and turns 75 years old during this national team gathering.
– I try to stay as fresh and as healthy as I can. The only thing I know about it is if we have been working around the clock for three weeks, as we can do in connection with gatherings, I need to land a little. I needed that last time. Otherwise, I have told the support staff that they must let me know if I am rotating, says Lagerbäck with a smile to VG.
He answers as lagerbäcksk as he can to questions about how he looks at å orke what could be two finals in two years – if he takes Norway both to the postponed European Championships in 2021 and to the Qatar World Cup in November the following year.
– That is the goal, yes.
His closest partner on the Norwegian national team is assistant Per Joar Hansen. And even though he guesses that Lagerbäck belongs to the “top two” of the world’s oldest national team managers, he does not notice in his manager that he is 17 years older.
– What he shows is a cliché: That age is just a number. As long as you have driving forces and are highly motivated, you can hold on for a very long time. If you have a number that tells you that then you should stop working when you are so and so old – that is out of date, “Perry” thinks.
– In football you are privileged. You meet new generations all the time, both players, coaches and managers. The world goes on, and football is a kind of “rebranding” and comes in a new suit every five to ten years. “Repression” was done as early as 1974 by Holland. The trends in football are like the fashions; they come at regular intervals, Hansen continues.
– He is in great shape, looks strong, is upbeat and energetic. One does not think that this is an old man. We have to ask him about the recipe eventually, says left-back Haitam Aleesami (29).