FILE RMC Sport – Faced with the instability and deceit that characterized the Portuguese D2 of the 1990s, Luis Campos is a very young coach trying to defend his philosophy and wipe his first tears.
On January 31, 1993, the União de Leiria traveled to the Feirense field. With a new face on the couch. Amândio Barreiras has landed and his deputy is in charge of the first team. At the age of 29, Luís Campos is preparing to lead his first professional competition. And to win it (2-1). His record (six wins, four draws, seven defeats) is neither famous nor infamous. Certainly not for a beginner. The União, which has been growing in D2 for over ten years, finished eighth for the second time in a row.
At the start of the next exercise, after four days – two draws and two defeats – the young technician was fired. The impatient president, João Bartolomeu, arrives at Campos to bring in Manuel Cajuda who will… be promoted that season. What would have been his fate (and that of the UDL) if Luís Campos had been saved? “I remember it was one of the few times in football that I cried, he confided the Jornal de Leiria in 2005. But I am proud to have built a team that has the União de Leiria to the First Division led.” Anyway, it’s done, LC is launched. He uses his sabbatical to multiply internships with other more skilled coaches and to refine his knowledge and methodology in training and play.
Between Esposende and Aves
In 1995-1996, Luís bounced back, at home. Appointed as Esposende’s coach in 2a Divisão B (third tier), he finished fifth in the championship, for what was then the best performance in the club’s history. Campos – who has the second best offense in his group – is called up at the highest level. In D2 he started as manager of CD Aves with whom he finished eighth in the 2a Divisão de Honra 1996-97. He especially reached eighth of the Portuguese Cup, where he dragged Benfica from Preud’homme, Valdo, Panduru or João Vieira Pinto into extra time. At Aves, he notably launched the career of future Sporting or OM midfielder José Delfim. The next season is more complicated. In February 1998, the team got stuck at the bottom of the standings; it has one success in nine league matches. Campos leaves.
When the summer returned, he returned to AD Esposende. The club from its youth has just moved up to the second division, with in its ranks a young midfielder trained by Boavista, born in Strasbourg and nicknamed “Petit”. Campos baptizes the one who (among other things) becomes champion of Portugal with the Axedrezados, Benfica and which will honor 57 caps with Portugal. After 14 days and with a comfortable lead over the relegated, the Fão native leaves, after beating… Aves (2-1).
Leça, “the dream away”
Christmas is approaching and Luís Campos has just received a call from Leça FC. The club in the outskirts of Porto has only one idea in mind: to find the elite. As soon as possible. Leça is at the center of Portuguese news. The team had finished 12th in the Primeira Liga 1997-1998, but had been administratively relegated following the Guímaro case. Guímaro is a referee whose six-figure check was found and whose signature was that of Manuel Rodrigues, the president of Leça FC. At the end of a media-legal imbroglio, the club was relegated to D2.
When Campos disembarks, Leiceiros his 11th from D2. Apathetic. The fiery Luis will turn it into a scoring machine. In 20 league matches under his command, Leça will put down 40 pawns. His intentions are clear. Hélder Noverça and Fran are among the top scorers of the season. But the delay is too great and LC can’t do better than sixth in the standings (the club has never done better since then, losing itself in the lower divisions of Portuguese football). “Our dream is over, but we end up with our heads held high,” he said. The Portuguese D2 is a jungle, eating coaches. And Campos will look elsewhere.
† FIND ALL OUR LUIS CAMPOS FILES, WITH ALL EPISODES, BY CLICKING ON THIS LINK