Piraeus (Greece), 07/03/2024.- Olympiacos head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar ahead of the UEFA Europa Conference League Round of 16, 1st leg soccer match between Olympiacos Piraeus vs Maccaibi Tel Aviv, in Piraeus, Greece, 07 March 2024. (Grecia, Pireo) EFE/EPA/GEORGIA PANAGOPOULOU

Mendilibar: A New Chapter in Olympiacos

Since November 5, 2022, José Luis Mendilibar, a 15-year footballer and 22-year coach, wrote his first collaboration in Relevo, and of course, when he decided to return to his true calling, the bench, first at Sevilla and then at Olympiacos, we have spoken a handful of times about his experiences. Last Thursday, sitting face to face at a restaurant on the Athenian coast, I realized that we still have much to talk about. The occasion, his second European final in a year, deserved a chat more than an interview. Each knockout round—Ferencvaros, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Fenerbahce, Aston Villa—tested Mendilibar’s nerves. Despite the distance from his predecessors, PAOK, AEK, and Panathinaikos, he reached the last three matches with options, finishing third in the Super League and securing a spot in the Conference League for the next season.

Adapting well to Athens, Mendilibar’s Greek life is almost monastic. From his apartment in Glyfada to the Olympiacos Sports City, he navigates the chaotic traffic with patience. Known for his coaching methodology and character, Mendilibar’s unique style has endeared him to the Olympiacos squad, who have embraced his intensity and passion. As he prepares for the final against Fiorentina, Mendilibar remains focused on maintaining the team’s identity and playing style, emphasizing the importance of authenticity and self-belief.

With a strong bond with his players and a clear vision for the team’s future, Mendilibar reflects on his coaching journey and the challenges and successes of leading Olympiacos to a continental final. As he faces off against his friend Emery and navigates the complexities of Greek football culture, Mendilibar remains steadfast in his commitment to the team and looks forward to building a new team in the upcoming season. Despite the uncertainties of the future, Mendilibar’s dedication to Olympiacos and his coaching philosophy remain unwavering, setting the stage for a thrilling final and a promising future for the team.