“You know, I could die now and be satisfied” gushes the tall, lanky trainer on the Netflix series Boca Confidential. Like many who work at the club, Javier Valdecantos is a lifelong fan of the blue and gold.
Usually when a club agrees to participate in a documentary granting the cameras exclusive access, the goal is to market the team while giving away as little information about the team’s inner-workings as possible. And while you probably won’t learn much about Boca’s tactical structure from the short series, viewers managed to gain some insight into the trainer’s methodology.
Having worked together in Buenos Aires with Lanús and Boca and soon in Los Angeles, the new LA Galaxy manager reserved high praise for the 60-year old. Declaring Valdecantos one of Argentina’s top trainers, Guile listed his experience in Spain, Italy and Mexico while reminding the viewers he was Diego Maradona’s personal trainer during his glory days.
It’s normal for a manager to compliment a member of his staff, but once the Boca squad hits the field you begin to understand his influence. Very much a trainer in the classic sense, Valdecantos is a main figure as he prepares the players physically while the Schelotto twins run the training sessions. Barking orders, encouragement and disapproval with infectious enthusiasm, the trainer puts the team through a grueling regimen of fitness, cardio and weight training including his own personal innovations.
Valdecantos is quite demanding on his players, but the squad appears to buys in and his methods bring results. Midfielder Nahitan Nández, one of several Boca players proud to talk up their superior fitness, says at one point with a laugh “We’re lucky to have a bit of a crazy trainer, but he’s brilliant”. The Argentine is also an important emotional leader, perhaps illustrated best when individually embracing players before a vital Copa Libertadores match.
A master of his craft, Valdecantos is by no means stuck in the past, using the latest techniques like player GPS to fine-tune the Boca squad into shape, even utilizing a futuristic light-based gym setting to sharpen the player’s decision making and reaction timing. Nor is he overly obsessed with the numbers, stressing on several occasions the importance of training the squad as footballers first and foremost.
It will be very interesting to see how Valdecantos’ methods translate to the athletic physicality of MLS, but the Galaxy may have acquired a real asset.
Boca Confidential is currently streaming on Netflix.