With Brazil’s Serie A in their offseason, Sao Paulo manager and club legend Rogerio Ceni headed to Europe to visit a slew of clubs, looking to visit training sessions and liaise with fellow coaches. One of the stops he made was Anfield, where he spent a day at Liverpool’s academy.
He was impressed enough to offer U23 boss Michael Beale a job as his number two back in Brazil, and Beale decided it was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down. Today, following a U23 match against West Brom last night, his departure was officially confirmed by the club.
"When I’ve had chances to talk to clubs to become a manager, it’s not interested me,” noted Beale, who has passed on managing a number of lower league sides. “I have the best youth development job in England, otherwise we wouldn’t have had 18 or 19 debuts in two and a half years. That’s the first thing.
“It had to be something special, they’re obviously a huge club. I met the coach when he came over to visit in September. He came over to visit England and he came in and spent a day, watched me coach. He’s obviously a big legend there, it’s like Steven Gerrard or Ryan Giggs taking over.”
Ceni spent over a decade at Sao Paulo, making 575 appearances in goal for the six-time winners of Brazil’s Serie A. He also, as goalkeeper, scored 131 goals—all from penalties and free kicks. He is, not surprisingly, the highest scoring goalkeeper in the history of professional football.
Beale will join the Brazilian side in the coming weeks, start to learn the language, and then begin preparations for the 2017 season, which kicks off in May. If he can find success in Brazil, it will mark a rare case of an English player or manager heading abroad to make his name.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity, to learn a second language and to work with players in Brazil,” Beale noted. “I’m English and to have an English coach working in Brazil, I think maybe I’m the first one, so it’s a big thing. But leaving Liverpool… it’s broken my heart.”