Valencia is currently sitting fourth in La Liga and only two points behind current leaders Barcelona. They’ve already beaten champions Atletico Madrid and look like a decent shout for a Champions League spot on current form. Los Che is being coached by Nuno Santo and assisting him is a 28-year-old Scot who made his name coaching youth team football in Dundee.
Ian Cathro is one of the brightest coaches to have come out of the British Isles ,and if his career trajectory continues its spectacular course he could be on his way to bigger and better things. He has already come a long way from coaching young players at his own clinic before being brought in at the age of 23 to head up the Dundee United junior academy by Craig Levein. Levein sought out Cathro after discovering that youth footballers who had attended clinics held by the latter were better and more skilful than the prospects being produced by Dundee United themselves.
Cathro was instrumental in the development of Ryan Gauld, arguably the most talented Scottish player in a generation, as well as other starlets in Dundee’s youth academy. Perhaps it’s not surprising that Gauld decided to tread a similar path as Cathro in venturing to Portugal to further his footballing education.
Ian Cathro is somewhat of an anomaly, making an impression in the Scottish game despite not playing football professionally at any level. He feared that his lack of a playing background would hinder his opportunities of progressing up the ranks in the Scotland, despite being brought in by the Scottish Football Association to head the regional performance school in Dundee.
A coaching course organized by the SFA in 2009 saw Cathro come into contact with former Porto goalkeeper Nuno Santo. That meeting changed Cathro’s career as a football coach. Santo approached Cathro after the Scot had given a 15-minute session. Of the initial meeting Cathro said:
“He gave me one massive piece of praise and one massive piece of constructive criticism and that made him interesting to me. He was humble, open and direct with me to the point where I immediately realized that he was someone who could help me grow, both as a coach and a man.”
Santo was given the opportunity to coach Portuguese outfit Rio Ave in 2012 and reached out to Cathro appointing him as his assistant, much to the consternation of the SFA. From training youths Cathro was thrusted into the world of first team coaching.