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Tuesday, 02 June 2009 17:12

Paulo Duarte takes charge at Le Mans

Portuguese given two-year contract

paulo duarteFormer Leiria manager Paulo Duarte has signed a two-year contract to become the new boss of French Ligue 1 side Le Mans, a job he will operate simultaneously with his role as Burkina Faso coach.

The 40-year-old, who retired from playing almost five years go, will remain as coach of the West African country, where he has been in charge since 2007, until March 31st of next year, after which he will devote his full attentions towards Le Mans.

“It is an honour to be given the chance to join Le Mans,” Duarte told the club’s official site. “I always had the ambition to coach a club in a great European league and it is a great challenge which awaits me in Ligue 1. I had four interesting proposals but Le Mans convinced me.

“I know the club and some of the players such as Helstad, Maiga, Camara and Gevinho. Le Mans is a team which has many nationalities, good players and play a game based on pace. It is a young, competitive team.

“But I must admit that it was the discussions with president Henri Legarda that convinced me to join the club. I sensed in how he spoke that he had great knowledge, a major passion for football and in particular an enormous ambition for Le Mans.”

While enjoying a modest playing career, most of which was spent at Leiria, Duarte can point to experience gained from working under Jose Mourinho, where he says he “learned a lot” as good preparation for his managerial career.

“I am a passionate person who breathes football,” said when asked to describe himself as a manager. “I am very demanding in terms of organisation and discipline. I demand the best from myself and expect the same from my colleagues: players, staff or members of the club.”

Le Mans first gained promotion to the French top flight in 2003/04 and recorded a record highest finish of 9th in 2008.  Nicknamed Muc 72, the club located on the Sarthe River and who play at the 17,500-capacity Stade Leon-Bolle, narrowly avoided the drop from Ligue 1 this year with a 16th-place finish.

By Sean Gillen

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