Carlos Corberan has turned Huddersfield Town from relegation contenders into promotion hopefuls
Carlos Corberan names Oscar Wilde as one of his coaching inspirations and the Spaniard looks to the stars as he tries to guide Huddersfield Town to an FA Cup quarter-final against Liverpool.
At just 38, Corberan is one of the game’s most promising managers. In his first senior role in English football, he transformed Town from relegation candidates into promotion contenders, producing an attacking and entertaining side with no the luxury of a transfer budget.
His side approach that fifth-round tie at Nottingham Forest fortified by a 15-game unbeaten streak in the Championship that has propelled them to third, two points off the automatic promotion places.
Carlos Corberan has been a revelation since joining Huddersfield Town in July 2020
In an exclusive interview with Sportsmail, it’s clear Corberan isn’t letting a single moment go to waste.
After a brief playing career as a goalkeeper, Corberan soon turned to coaching and had previously worked in his native Spain, Saudi Arabia and Cyprus before spending time with Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds and take over at Huddersfield in July 2020.
He also found time to read Wilde, the 19th century Irish author and poet who is still widely quoted today.
“I like understanding human beings very well,” he said. ‘It’s one of my passions, to understand all of us, our motivations, the pressure, the fears that hinder our performance.
The 38-year-old turned the club from relegation contenders to promotion hopefuls
“I like to know how people deal with different things. You can read a lot of stuff from many different authors that might not be specifically related to football. But football is played by humans and it’s important to understand how they react to various situations.
“At the end of my career, I took various courses on different types of knowledge, systems theory and complex systems. As a coach, you can reinforce or change the habits of your players, but to do this you must first understand how they live.
“I stay on the training ground until the end of the working day – I don’t care if it’s 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. It’s important to respect my staff’s personal time – that’s why we’ve increased the time we spend here so that later we can give our families our full attention.
Corberan eyes FA Cup quarter-final clash against Liverpool in coming weeks
“I have been linked to football all my life. Since the age of 18, I have been coaching teams, whether as a head coach, physical trainer or assistant coach. From the age of 17 , I knew I wanted to be a coach and I started studying coaching.
“Even as a player, during training sessions I was looking for ideas that I could use as a coach. It was the same if I was a substitute – I would watch the game thinking about tactics and to different situations.
Corberan was fortunate to be able to learn from the best. During his time as a young player at Valencia, he got to watch Hector Cuper and Rafael Benitez up close.
Cuper led the club to back-to-back Champions League finals in 2000 and 2001, while Benitez won league titles in 2002 and 2004 before moving to Liverpool.
In Villarreal, within the coaching staff, Corberan crossed paths with Robert Pires, “invincible” from Arsenal, as well as confirmed players of the European game such as Marcos Senna, Giuseppe Rossi and Ariel Ibagaza.
The Spaniard previously worked at Leeds United under his former boss Marcelo Bielsa
Stints in Saudi Arabia and Cyprus brought Corberan to Leeds in 2017, where he became Under-23 coach. A year later, he was joined by a great in the coaching world – Marcelo Bielsa.
Corberan was part of the Leeds delegation that flew to Buenos Aires in 2018 to discuss terms with Bielsa, and the 66-year-old remains a huge influence.
“His level of ability is not normal, his knowledge and his ethics too,” Corberan said. “Just meeting him was a great learning opportunity, so imagine what it was like for me to work with him.
“He is someone I admire a lot and we have a very good professional relationship. I always try to respect the people who bring me so much in terms of knowledge.
He keeps his feet on the ground and seeks to help the Terriers with promotion
“I saw qualities in him that not everyone can have. As soon as we stop growing as coaches, constantly improving, we risk stopping our careers.
Although Bielsa’s career at the top level is coming to an end after his recent sacking by Leeds, Corberan’s is just beginning.
Huddersfield were relegated from the top flight in 2019 and few would have backed them for a quick return, but Corberan confounds those expectations as he tries to restore the club’s glorious past, which won three consecutive league titles from 1924 to 1926, and the FA Cup in 1922.
“It’s been 100 years since Huddersfield won the FA Cup,” Corberan said. “It makes me realize how lucky I am to be involved with a club like this. It’s a really big club and I’m aware of that every day.