'Mourinho was our god, the reason we all wanted to be coaches ...'
Well-travelled Hibs coach opens up on influences and favourite former pupils
Jose Mourinho, Jan Oblak and a kid called Ederson. If there is no hint of Miguel Miranda seeking reflected glory through the subtle art of name dropping, his associations and influences do offer some insight into a character currently embracing life at Hibs.
Gently laughing at the mud splashes all over his new training kit, a daily hazard for everyone at East Mains, Miranda actually had to be teased into giving up the identities of his favourite former pupils and illustrious coaching connections during a lively chat in the manager’s office.
When pressed, however, the Portuguese goalkeeping coach instantly falls upon two truly great No. 1s as obvious standouts.
“Of the ones I coached, I always had big expectations of Ederson,” said Miranda, who worked with the Brazil and Manchester City goalkeeper in the academy at Benfica.
“Straight away, I saw that he was special, different. I coached him with the under-17s and under-18s, so two seasons, and you could see his quality.
“I also coached Jan Oblak when he was young but that was kind of weird. He went to Benfica as the biggest transfer in Slovenian football, I think - but he was the fourth-choice keeper at Benfica.
“Then he got injured, so I didn’t see much of him, because I only worked for six months with the first team at Benfica. He was injured for more than half of that, so I never got to see his full potential, although we could tell he was special.
“With Ederson, it was different because I got to work with him for two years. I knew he was special right away.
“His distribution, playing out from the feet, side volleys, everything. His left foot is just magical, probably because he was a left back when he was younger.”
For Miranda, whose own goalkeeping career involved nothing more high-profile than playing in the youth ranks for lower-league teams, coaching has been something of a life mission.
Still just 37, he’s got 18 years of experience under his belt. He considers himself lucky that he was moving into coaching at a time when clubs were realising the value of having goalie-specific instructors available at all levels of academy football.
“It was always lower level, lower division teams when I was a kid,” he recalled, adding: “Then I started to realise maybe I wouldn’t make it as a goalkeeper!
“At 19, I was already in university and was starting to do my UEFA C goalkeeping licence. I started to think that maybe it was better for me to be a coach than be a bad player all my life.
“I got an interview with Sporting, ten of us interviewed and two of us invited to become academy coaches. At 19 years old, I was coaching under-15s and under-14s, which was amazing.
“Looking back, I had no idea how fortunate I was. I thought it was just normal but now, I think it makes no sense – I was this 19-year-old coaching national youth team goalkeepers. Crazy. But I loved it.”
After 15 years split between Sporting and Benfica, Miranda – who first teamed up with Nick Montgomery at Central Coast Mariners – made a momentous decision, explaining: “I was in my comfort zone, always in youth development.
“But I wanted to try something. So I went to Alanyaspor, which was a great experience. Like Scotland, the people in Turkey are addicted to football; it’s a religion.
“But the big change was moving to professional football, not youth football, because you feel a real need to win, you feel pressure from the supporters. Every week is almost the most important week of your life.
“With youth football, you can sort of relax, because it’s a long-term project, right?
“But I like the adrenaline of having to be the best this week, today, because this is all that matters.”
A spell working for the Saudi national youth teams – while being based in Barcelona – followed before Miranda got the call to join Montgomery and long-time friend Sergio Raimundo in Australia.
And now he’s at Hibs. Relying on the lessons he’s learned as a world traveller to help him adapt.
Chatting away about his regular conversations with a coach like Bruno Lage – formerly of Wolves, now at Botafogo – or Fulham’s Marco Silva, Miranda is rightly proud of Portugal’s status as a breeding ground for elite coaches.
As for why this nation of 10 million should hold such a disproportionate influence in coaching circles, he says: “The knowledge of the game is good. But I think the main characteristics are the human qualities – and I think Mourinho gave us that.
“He showed that it’s not only tactical and technical; it’s also psychological, the human side.
“Mourinho was known for the mind games, for getting players to play for him, but also to play mind games.
“In Portugal, all of my generation was influenced by Mourinho. He was like a god to us, the reason we wanted to become coaches, a role model.
“So everybody wanted to play the mind games, to be flexible and creative like Mourinho.
“Also, we are not the most disciplined country in the world – but that gives creativity and flexibility.
“We can find ways to get around problems, to win while being creative. And we are always very positive, we find a way, don’t find excuses.
“It’s in our DNA, plus the influence of Mourinho, it helps us to adapt to situations.”