FC Copenhagen Zeca is an NF Academy ambassador
FC Copenhagen captain Zeca is an Ambassador for NF Academy
José Carlos Gonçalves Rodrigues is the captain of FC Copenhagen and a Greek national team player. The 30-year-old started his career in Casa Pia, where NF Academy’s sports director João Plantier was one of his coaches.
Also known as Zeca, the Portuguese has started his career in a small club in Lisbon. At that time João Plantier was a coach at Casa Pia club and was in charge of following up the talented and eager young player.
“João Plantier was very important to my career, mainly for three reasons. He gave me freedom and trust. We had a close friendship and he helped me all the way. João gave me feedback on what I needed to improve in matches, and he was good at giving me his opinion on how I could improve. He noticed that I needed a bigger challenge in order to improve, so he decided that I should play with and against older players. That was very important to me as a 14-year-old player”, Zeca says.
After coaching Zeca in Casa Pia, the talent went to Vitória de Setúbal a first division club. The next summer Zeca signed for the Greek club Panathinaikos. They have always kept in touch. When Zeca came to Denmark in 2017, after six successful years in Greece, he became an ambassador for NF Academy.
“He is a great role model for other professional football players who give something back to the younger generations. Zeca was with the players during our last program in Copenhagen. Now he will also give away signed FC Copenhagen jerseys to the next winners of the Player of the Age Category in Denmark this summer”, says NF Academy’s sports director Joâo Plantier.
The Portuguese coach has worked on player development for over 20 years, with a strong connection to Sporting Academy. Plantier has worked with several players who have later developed a top football career nationally and internationally.
Rafael Camacho is the first player coached by João Plantier who is now playing in the main roster of Sporting CP. Last season he was part of the team who won the Champions League in Liverpool.
Eduardo Quaresma, Joelson Fernandes and Nuno Mendes are three other players amongst others who have now started training with Sporting Clube de Portugal main team. Plantier has high expectations from these three former players of his.
“The players I have had in my training which now are starting their professional careers all had the passion for the game as a common denominator. They give 100 percent on training and matches. They have a very good technique, and they are able to make quick decisions during the match. Talent is not enough to go all the way, and these players have worked hard to get better”, said Plantier.
Train like big clubs
The sports director draws similarities with how NF Academy is working to develop players in their programs.
“There is high quality training over several years in the making of the best players. They have played with good players and met good teams over a long time. Even Zeca didn’t play for a big club when he was young. However, he had the opportunity to play matches at a higher level and train with players who were as good as himself. The rest is related to the environment and the player’s talent”, says Plantier.
He then explains the structure of NF Academy, which sounds similar to how top clubs develop their players.
“The players participating in our program have the opportunity to work with experienced coaches that have the knowledge on how to take them to the next level. We give them the opportunity to train and develop in a good environment with players of the same good level over time. We follow them up with concrete feedback on what they should focus on to further develop their skills. This is how top clubs work”, concludes Sports Director Joâo Plantier.
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