Special forces training means Hibs coach is tougher than the rest

Military background gives Raimundo edge in 'hostile environments'

Sergio RaimundoSergio Raimundo
Sergio Raimundo

Hibs coach Sergio Raimundo has revealed how his special forces background helps him push players to their limit – without ever forgetting that they’re not soldiers training for a war zone.

Nick Montgomery’s assistant told the club’s Inside Training show that spending three years in the Portuguese military, a culture shock for someone who was a long-haired rocker in a band, still influenced his thinking today.

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“It definitely helped me in my coaching career,” said Raimundo. “It was key in the process of growing because I still make my bed every morning, so it’s not just the physical and psychological, it’s life routines.

“I like to wake up, make my bed, to have some routines that I’ve kind of learned in special forces.

“Definitely, when you demand something from the players, you are testing them – but also pushing them to do their best, physically and mentally.

“It has allowed many people to be in environments that most might feel are hostile. Honestly, I don’t feel the hostility others may feel.

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“And the psychological side allows you to push people further – without breaking.

“We have to be careful because football is not exactly special forces. We want to help people to grow, but you have to respect the limits, make sure everybody is healthy and has good wellbeing, then work from there to achieve peak performance.”

Explaining how a missed deadline to apply for university had left him “lost” and looking for something to fill a year before he could get into fulltime sporting education, Raimundo revealed: “I had a neighbour who was special forces. He told me about how hard it was, mentally and physically.

“I looked at it not as wanting to get sent into wars. But I was thinking what a challenge it would be, mentally and physically.

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“I had long hair at the time, because I used to play in rock bands – I know The Proclaimers very well! – and I loved that.

“But I thought: ‘Look, I want to do this. I’m going to shave my hair to zero, do it properly.’

“I ended up being there for three years, which was fantastic, because it tested my mental side to the maximum. That makes you grow as a person and competitor.

“It also tested the physical side and allowed me to see that, even if you think you are in pain, relating to footballers, we used to have a saying that you are only doing 60 per cent of what you are capable of doing. So there is still 40 per cent more to give.”

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Heading into a Portuguese footballing education system that has achieved worldwide renown for the quality of its graduates, Raimundo first met Montgomery on a coaching course – and instantly knew the Yorkshireman was the real deal.

It didn’t take long for him to consider the invitation to join Monty at Central Coast Mariners, then. And the rest his history.

“I would rather be out of a job or building houses than working with someone I wouldn’t like to work with,” said Raimundo.

“You work for him, you have the pleasure of putting everything out there, to help him and achieve something together.

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“Once he invited me to Central Coast, I said this was the time. We were in Canada and my wife said: ‘Please, we’ve been in five different countries. Can we stay here for a while?’

“I said of course. Unless something very different comes up. And the one country she wanted to see was Australia!

“I knew it would click. Some things you just can’t explain rationally. Now we’re working hard together here.

“The story from the military you can apply to life is you keep going, you work hard, you resist all the adversity. And, in the end, you end up achieving something.

“Even if you don’t achieve what you expected, you still achieve something.”

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