The youngest of the coaches on show, Slovakia’s Vladimir Weiss is nonetheless far from being low on the list in terms charisma or talent. The former Czechoslovakian international boasts FIFA World Cup™ experience from his playing days, having travelled to Italy 1990, and returns to the global showcase after steering Slovakia through to the finals for the first time in their history as an independent nation. While he takes obvious delight in that achievement, the forthright tactician is not about to rest on his laurels.
A more than capable midfielder in his heyday, collecting 19 Czechoslovakia caps and 12 with Slovakia, Weiss opted to stay in the game after hanging up his boots. Making the move into coaching, he has arguably enjoyed even more success in the dugout than he ever did with a ball at his feet.
His first assignment was at the helm of Artmedia Bratislava, now known as Petrzalka, the club with whom he ended his playing days. He led the side to their first ever national title in 2005 and then secured them a place in the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League group stage – a superb feat given even greater sheen when his charges defeated Porto in a memorable victory that Weiss, a warm-hearted man often guided by his emotions, dedicated to his ailing father.
Looking to step up another level with Russian outfit Saturn Moscow, he recruited a number of familiar faces to help him continue to make history, with the likes of Jan Durica, Peter Petras and Branislav Obzera all coming along for the ride. Their paths soon diverged, however, as Weiss failed to hit the same heights in Russia and decided to return to the club where his coaching talents had first emerged. It proved a shrewd move.
With his enthusiasm for the game undiminished, he was soon leading Artmedia to glory once again. Determined, as ever, to establish a positive atmosphere within his squad, he immediately secured another league title for the club and was rewarded with a call from the Slovakian Football Association, keen to replace Jan Kocian after the failure to qualify for UEFA EURO 2008.
A fan of 4-4-2 but also partial to an attacking 4-2-3-1 formation when required, Weiss has put together a close and united squad, with players capable of transcending their talents to meet their objectives. Of those players, Marek Hamsik has been entrusted with the captaincy and playmaking duties, Stanislav Sestak leads the line and Martin Skrtel mops up at the back. The 45-year-old’s approach works too and his team lost only to Slovenia as they clinched themselves a ticket to South Africa.
That achievement and his continuing good work have ensured that Weiss is now making a name for himself as a promising young coach, even if he shares it with two noteworthy family members. His father Vladimir was also a Czechoslovakian international, while his son, again named Vladimir, plays for Manchester City and is regularly called up to demonstrate his worth in a national team shirt.