FROM QUEBEC TO THE WORLD – HEADING NORTH PART i

‘We’re here at the QBWL studio in Quebec City with the first of a 3 part series where we’re taking a deeper look into the life of a soccer manager. There’s been a lot of sit down interviews over the years with managers, but this time we’re going to be going over this managers career from the start up until today. Please welcome our guest, Stephen Labeque’

There was a small round of applause in the studio at the office in Quebec, only the host, Stephen and a couple of media guys were there

‘Thank you’ Stephen said as he took his seat

‘The first part is going live right now, so no swearing please’ the host said with a smile. ‘So you’re back in Canada now for the first time in, is it 2 years?’

‘2 and a half actually. We’ve just wrapped up the season in…’

He was cut off ‘Hold it there please Steve, as you know we’ve got an exclusive on that coming up. Let’s go back to the beginning. You decided to start your career in Asia, Singapore specifically, why there?

‘The main reason being there’s not that many opportunities in the professional soccer game in Canada for a failed player like me. Plus it was where my old man started his managing career so I felt I had a good level of knowledge to fall back on’

‘Of course your dad is Stephen Labeque senior, who had great success in countries like Hong Kong, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Holland and currently at the Red Bulls in New York’

‘Right. He still has contacts over there and it was through him Hougang in Singapore reached out to me and how I got the job there’

‘And you did well there didn’t you’

‘2 cups and the league in 18 months, yeah I think I did’

‘But you’ve since left that role now’

‘Yeah. I’m not someone that is content with accepting what I’ve won, I wanted more. And I’ll forever be grateful to Hougang for giving me the opportunity they did, but I felt I’d achieved as much as I could there and didn’t think I could do more than what I had, other than winning it again and again’ he paused, then continued ‘But there was a suggestion it was beginners luck, or I’d overachieved, so I wanted to test myself even more than’

‘Did you approach any clubs yourself or did you wait for teams to come to you?’

‘Well I figured winning the league in Singapore wouldn’t get me noticed in many other places not called Singapore, not least at home. I did see Toronto had sacked their manager, and that other MLS teams were also advertising, but I didn’t think I’d had enough experience at that point to even get a call back from any teams over here’

‘What about Europe?’

‘Didn’t cross my mind. I actually looked at other teams in Singapore, but none were going to compete with the Hougang squad I felt’

‘So what happened?

‘I spent a few weeks relaxing and just watching football from my place I rented in Singapore, watching the Asian champions league, the leagues in China and the Middle East were still going on so there was enough to keep my attention. By the New Year there were plenty of teams looking for a new manager all over Asia. I reached out to a few, I got rejected from teams in Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia, I did get an offer of an interview from a team in Qatar, although they didn’t appeal to me’

‘Why not? Qatar is known for teams throwing money around’

‘It was a second division team. They just didn’t look appealing to me at that time. I wasn’t ready to get into a relegation fight’

‘So you said no?’

‘Yeah. I just said thanks for the interest but going to the second division in Qatar for me right now isn’t what I want’

‘I assume it was around this time when the call came from Malaysia?’

‘Right. I got the call and the chairman made an interesting proposition. The team were a big enough club that they could be considered a top team in Malaysia, they had a decent squad that had just about everything I would need to mount a serious title challenge, and the chairman seemed really relaxed and genuine when he said he wasn’t the type of owner to get involved with the first team’

‘That was that then, you agreed to the deal and you packed your bags?’

‘In a sense yes. During the negotiations, which lasted less than an hour I’d like to add, I said I want to bring my own assistant manager in, the same one from my year and a half in Singapore Rob Friend’

‘Former LA Galaxy & Munich player Rob Friend?’

‘The very same. We hit it off really well since we met and him being my assistant was vital to my signing, which we know worked out in the end’

‘Again hold off on the details Steve, we’ve got a lot to cover’ the host said smiling, before continuing ‘Of which we’ll begin covering tomorrow night here on QBWL Live, with Stephen Labeque back for the second part of his story so far. Thanks for watching’


Next chapter – FROM QUEBEC TO THE WORLD – HEADING NORTH PART ii

Previous chapter – FROM QUEBEC TO THE WORLD – FOUR LITTLE WORDS

First chapter – FROM QUEBEC TO THE WORLD – THE BEGINNING


2 thoughts on “FROM QUEBEC TO THE WORLD – HEADING NORTH PART i

  1. Pingback: FROM QUEBEC TO THE WORLD – FOUR LITTLE WORDS | On the Break

  2. Pingback: FROM QUEBEC TO THE WORLD – HEADING NORTH PART ii | On the Break

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