The younger ones maybe not, but many soccer fans will remember Peter Luccin clearly. At the age of 22, he changed from PSG to Celta and thus began his career in Spain. Nine seasons in which he went through Balaídos, Atlético de Madrid and Zaragoza, with a loan at Racing Santander to complete his service record. Peter is now 44 years old and shares the city for a few days with Real Madrid and Barcelona. He landed at Dallas FC in 2013, hung up his boots in 2014 and since then has been one more Dalasite. He caught the coaching bug in his thirties and in the Texan city he is developing his learning, now as an assistant to Nico Estévez at the aforementioned Dallas FC. Smiling and with a Spanish as fluent as in his time as a footballer, Peter attends AS to go through his past, his present, dissect the evolution of the MLS and analyze the Classic and some of his players from the coach’s point of view.
Ten years in Dallas. What is it about the city and Dallas FC that has you so hooked?
When I left Europe, coming here was familiar. I wanted to change the culture, learn English, offer new opportunities for them and we came to Dallas. It wasn’t easy to adjust, but the city was very sporty and that helped my children, who play soccer here. People are very open. There is not much stress, although sometimes one looks for it (laughs).
Have you always been bitten by the training bug?
It came to me late. At first I thought it wasn’t for me. When he was young, he saw that the coach had many things to do and he just wanted to play (laughs). At the age of 29 or 30 she began to interest me. I started talking to a lot of coaches and I started to get interested. It hit me hard and now it’s a passion.
We know the player Luccin, but what is the coach like?
I like the philosophy of leading teams, with a lot of ball handling. That there is a purpose, know how to differentiate when to have possession and when to attack quickly. Don’t just focus on one thing. Everyone wants to control the game, but it is what generates passion for me. Is what we treat as staff. It is not easy and that is why we spend a lot of time so that they can adapt to the needs of the game.
Did you have a coach that you looked up to?
You want to look like yourself. Many trainers may have similar concepts, but I like trainers in specific facets. I may like one defensively, but not how they put together the block. Others like how to make football play, like Roberto de Zerbi, who is a coach that I like a lot. You have to get the best of each one.
You shared a team with Simeone, did you already see that he had a technician inside?
To 100%! He had everything inside to be a great coach. The passion, he was a great communicator… What he is doing is spectacular. It is not easy to spend more than ten years in Atleti or in a big one, because there is a lot of obligation to win.
How do you remember the Atleti stage?
In two parts. The first, when I arrived from Celta. There we played football that I loved. A leading Celta, taking the lead, taking the ball away from Madrid or Barça with Mostovoi, Karpin, Cáceres… It was spectacular to enter the Champions League. Atleti was in evolution and had to be rebuilt. The first year was more difficult because on a conceptual level it was not what I was used to at Celta. But they were always patient and the other two years were very good. Players with a lot of quality like Agüero arrived. And the city is spectacular.
There he lived the rivalry with Madrid.
It’s something I wanted to live. It’s amazing, they’ve been talking for a month before the derbies. Except for one game in which they passed us over, the rest were very intense and of quality. And at the hobby level you live to the fullest. They are different. A show, especially at home, in the Calderón, because it is lived with much more intensity. It is not critical of the Madrid fan, but the Atleti fan experiences it in a different way. More songs, more passion… I will never forget it.
Here you are not at that point.
No. The change is being brutal on a logistical level, but not yet on a conceptual level. At the football level Messi, Busquets have come…, but we are not at the level of Europe. People will see Messi and Busquets and that with hardly any training they are the best by far. Clubs need to realize what needs to be done. Everyone talks about MLS, but it must grow on a conceptual level. I don’t want to be misunderstood, but I want this league to be the best. We still lack.
What level is the current MLS at?
Phew. (Think) We would not play to be in the top ten. I don’t think any team could do it. Maybe one game, but during the season, being consistent would be the problem. The MLS is not at the level of the Spanish, the Italian, the English, the French… I would say that it is in the top-10, but far from the top-5.
He was talking about Messi. Is Inter already an automatic favourite?
For me if. When you see in such a short time the impact it has had… Also on the rival team. When they prepare to play against Inter it is different. In these matches against Atlanta and Cruz Azul you see it has been seen. Inter Miami enters and it seems that they are already winning 1-0. Atlanta has players like Almada, they were doing better than Inter and they take four. Then Cruz Azul the same. Messi in his first play makes three one-two… For the good of the league, I hope the teams realize that we have to go. You have to compete. You have to counter the opposing team. If we play tomorrow with them, the players would freeze. It’s a great experience, but you have to compete.
Is there much talk about the Clásico in the city?
Clear. In the League, the days before and after the boys meet and talk about it in the locker room. In the end, for me, Madrid is number one and note that I am from Atleti. It is an international brand equipment. My sons, who are at the Academy (Dallas FC youth academy), talk more about European soccer than MLS.
I see that you follow La Liga a lot, what do you think of your compatriots Tchouameni and Camavinga?
They have a lot of potential. In Madrid there are players in that position who marked the history of the club. Makélélé, Casemiro… Tchouameni, despite being seen as a destructive player, has a lot of footing. He played spectacular matches. Others that it was noted that more adaptation was needed. He likes to go forward and when you pivot him sometimes he cuts, he cages himself. Casemiro went up sometimes, but you have to know when and how. He is learning it. In other teams you see fewer errors. In Madrid and in Barça, everyone is with seven eyes in search of failures. But you see more successes. I call Camavinga a total player. Last year he already did very well as a left back. In the first leg against City he had a great game. He is a great team with potential and future. Tchouameni I know that he will perform better. He wasn’t bad, but he must win in consistency.
Which player would you take to Dallas FC from Madrid and Barça?
Hmm. Gundogan for sure and maybe Lewandowski. We have a great 9, Jesús Ferreira, but I would take Lewandowski so that I could learn from him, so that I follow his habits. And in Madrid, ugh. Bellingham and Modric. And that’s it, we have quality players here (laughs). It would be a mix of a young player and another who can teach. A year with these players would be amazing.
What challenge is set in the short term?
Help Nico (Estévez) with my experience as a player and my knowledge as a coach. Contribute innovative ideas to adapt to the contrary. Nico is a very open-minded person and we have very good, constructive discussions. And keep growing as a coach. My healthy ambition is to be the first coach. With Nico it is very easy to learn. You have to know how to compete on a day-to-day basis so that the boys continue to grow individually. The good thing is that there are so many things to do here… You have to organize the ideas so that the players are not lost. Here, the player is sometimes very literal and the concept of learning is very important. It is the difference that I see between the European player and the American. I’m not talking about talent, there’s a lot here. But the European soccer player has a higher level of interpretation.
Would you like to return to Spain to train?
Clear. Two years ago I was able to return to French football. It was a compliment because it was two historic clubs. First as an assistant and then with the idea of becoming head coach when I get my license, which I’m going to do soon. Going to Europe are things that I think little by little. I focus on the present and on Dallas FC.