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Will Still: From Football Manager Pro to Pro Football Manager

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Did you know that Will Still took Reims to a 19-game unbeaten run in all competitions? At 30 years old, he’s the youngest manager in Europe’s top five leagues. Reims pays a $25,000 fine each time he manages because he doesn’t have a UEFA Pro license. 

But now the streak is over, will Will Still still stand a chance at becoming a hot prospect in football management?

If you don’t know what this odd pun salad is all about, follow me as I tell you the amazing story of Will Still.

Early Life of Will Still

Will Still was born in Belgium in 1992. Growing up in a town near Brussels, his passion for football took him from the amateur youth leagues to Belgium’s lower divisions.

But that was the height of his playing career. Despite not making it to the pros, Still never lost his passion for the game. He channeled his obsession into the football management simulation game Football Manager, which inspired him to pursue a career in coaching. 

will still as a child holding trophy
Source: Daily Mail

At 17, he enrolled in Myerscough College in Preston, Lancashire, paving the way for his current success as a manager.

Will Still’s Playing Career

Although Will Still never made it to the big leagues, he played for several local clubs, including Sint-Truiden and the Mons youth teams. 

In a Daily Mail interview, Still reflected on his playing days, describing himself as a holding midfielder with a reputation for being tough and physical on the pitch. He acknowledged that he sometimes played on the edge, using underhanded tactics to gain an edge over opponents. 

Despite this, he maintained that he was a different person off the pitch, making a funny remark that his mother was often embarrassed by his on-field behavior.

Will Still’s Career in Football Manager Pro

The Football Manager franchise has achieved cult status for its realism and depth—coaches have used it to improve their knowledge of tactics and formations. Even former Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær has credited the game with helping him with some concepts.

While some may scoff at the idea of a video game having real-world implications, Will Still has broken this taboo for gym class rejects by applying it in his team management.

will still throwing a ball in Ligue 1
Source: Transfermarkt

When asked about his unique background in Football Manager, Still acknowledged that it had been an advantage for him in his transition to real-life management. And that’s why young people are drawn to him because his exceptional management record shows that gaming can translate into real sports.

Switching to real-life management

Will Still started his career as an assistant manager for the U14 team at Preston North End as he continued his studies at Myerscough College and later became a video analyst for the Belgian team Sint-Truiden. 

Manager Yannick Ferrera recognized Still’s exceptional match analysis skills and brought him on board as a video analyst for Standard Liège. Together, they won the Belgian Cup.

In 2017, Will Still rose to the rank of assistant manager and video analyst at Lierse. He saw this as an opportunity to prove his capabilities as a full-time manager, and through his dedication and hard work, he eventually became the full-time manager. 

Early struggles with the Royal Belgian FA

Despite his success at Lierse, his tenure ended curiously on December 2, 2017, after he led the team to a 2-0 victory over Westerlo. 

Further inquiries uncovered that his dismissal resulted from not having the mandatory “UEFA A-level coach” degree required to remain in charge for more than 60 days in the Belgian Division. 

will still at Beerschot
Source: RTBF

Despite this setback, Will Still continued to work with Lierse as an assistant coach to David Colpaert. After Lierse went bankrupt at the end of the 2017-2018 season, Still became an assistant to Stijn Vreven at Beerschot. He continued in this role under Hernán Losada, who helped the team gain the Belgian First Division A promotion. When Losada left in January 2021, Will Still became the head coach.

will still at lierse
Source: The Sun

However, despite leading the team to a 9th-place finish in the 2020-2021 season, Beerschot’s owners decided to hire Peter Maes as a more experienced coach for the next season.

In 2021, after working as an assistant to Óscar García at Reims for four months, Will Still decided to leave and return to Standard Liège. One of the main reasons was that his UEFA Pro license was registered in Belgium, and attending courses while working in France proved too time-consuming.

In 2022, he got his most significant opportunity to prove his mettle when he was appointed the manager of Stade de Reims, a Ligue 1 club in France. With this appointment, the young red-headed coach has since become an internet sensation, with fans worldwide discussing his unusual journey to becoming a real-life football manager.

Will Still’s managerial style

His management philosophy features a fast-paced, high-pressing game emphasizing attacking football. Under his leadership, Stade de Reims underwent a remarkable transformation.

Even more impressive was their ability to hold their own against the star-studded Paris Saint-Germain that had Messi, Mbappe, and Neymar, with Reims beating them once and drawing twice in recent meetings.

will still hugging low
Source: BFM

He prefers the 4-2-3-1 formation, which has proven successful so far this season. The Stade Auguste-Delaune faithful pack the stadium to the brim every home game to witness this ongoing sensation. 

With young prospects like Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun and Japanese Junya Ito, Reims have taken many scalps in Ligue 1 so far this season. 

Will Still’s impact on the Stade Reims and Management record

At just 30 years old, Will Still is currently at the helm of French Ligue 1 club Stade de Reims, where he has already achieved an impressive track record of success. 

In his first season as full-time manager, Still led Stade de Reims on the heavily-memed 19-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, a remarkable feat for a club that had been struggling before his arrival. 

While they suffered a setback in the Coupe de France round of 16, losing 3-1 to Toulouse, Still and his team has bounced back with an unbeaten run of 12 matches.

will still celebrating with player on the pitch
Source: Daily Star

Throughout his time at the helm at Reims so far, Will Still has displayed the ability to develop young talent. The testament to this fact is the meteoric rise of the previously mentioned Folarin Balogun, who is now on the radar of several European clubs.

Will Still’s coaching philosophy has proven effective in the French league, leading many to call for him to coach in other leagues, specifically the English Premier League. 

Becoming an internet sensation

Will Still continues to make waves in the football world, and his story has captivated the collective fancy of young football fans. His success has become international news fodder, as various football news outlets have covered his journey. 

In a recent interview with Talksport, Still expressed his happiness at Stade de Reims, stating that he “couldn’t be happier” at the club. He also addressed the issue of fines that the club had to pay due to his lack of a UEFA Pro license, saying that it was something the club had known about from the beginning.

“I want to get my UEFA Pro license as soon as possible, but I’m focused on doing my best for Stade de Reims. The club has known from the beginning that I didn’t have the license, and we’ve been working together to resolve the issue.”

What does the future hold for Will Still?

The Stade de Reims’ manager has expressed interest in future Premier League management. In his words, “If you asked any kid what they would like to do, they’d say they’d love to be a Premier League footballer or manager, and I’m no different.” 

But this won’t be possible—not until he gets his pro license. It is no secret that Will Still is working on his pro license to ensure the door to different management opportunities stays open to him. Once he earns the license, suitors will start lining up for his signature.

I don’t think Will Still is ready for the giant leap to England, Spain, or Italy just yet. I believe he will stay in France or Belgium for a few more seasons. And if his standards don’t fall below par, we might see him coaching one of the Los Blancos or Les Bleus. 

But all this is a pipedream. For now, I’ll continue riding this Will Still bandwagon as far as it goes. As he continues to make waves in the football world, there is no doubt that he will continue to captivate the imagination of young men who felt that real-life management was a long shot.

Regardless of where his career takes him, Will Still’s journey will continue to inspire and motivate others worldwide. The streets will not forget Will Still.

Who wrote this?

Ebuka is a tech enthusiast, writer, and eSports guru currently working with a team of daring Africans to revolutionize the writing scene. He enjoys answering questions, brainstorming new ideas, and discussing the future of sports and esports.

Sports Writer | [email protected] | Website

Ugo is a sports enthusiast with an undying love for underdog stories.

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