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Jaime Pacheco: I was disrespected and that’s why I left Zamalek
Portuguese manager Jaime Pacheco, who joined Zamalek on a one-year deal last October, suddenly left the club and Egypt on New Year’s Eve, despite leading the Whites to the top of the table after a disappointing start to their season.
In an interview with Portuguese newspaper Record, Pacheco sheds some light on his time in Egypt an why he left, claiming that he was ‘disrespected’ and ‘weird things happened’ with controversial lawyer and club president Mortada Mansour.
Record – How do you sum up this stage of your career?
Jaime Pacheco – All experiences are good. When they are positive, like this one, you are more satisfied. We got there after the first four rounds, the team only had one victory and everybody was disappointed.
We played ten games, won eight, drew one and lost one with a lot of incidents, with two penalties in our favour that weren’t signalled, with a converted non-existent penalty against us and we missed one in our favour. Our president even left the stand and ordered the technical director to take the team off the pitch, which didn’t happen!
R – What goals did you set when you arrived in Cairo?
JP – Our mission at Zamalek, from the start, was to work and make a thorough assessment of the squad. There were good players, but there was no team. There was a need to do tactical work with the players. The team transformed completely when we replaced three or four so-called starters, considered fundamental players by them.
Everybody said that they had never seen such a drastic and quick transformation in a team that began to play good football and win, which put us at a high standard, convincing even the most skeptical. The team was playing the kind of football that would keep them in first place until the end of the season.
R – The Egyptian championship is sui generis…
JP – There were serious security issues and the matches are all played behind closed doors. But even today there would always be around 200 people watching the games thanks to the invitations that the clubs send, that’s it.
Our fans, of which there are millions, watch the games on TV. I’m convinced that if they could be in the stadium, Zamalek would be even stronger. I went to the pyramids once and I barely saw them because I spent the whole time taking pictures with fans, and not just from Zamalek.
R – Did you have good working conditions at Zamalek?
JP – There was only one training pitch and we had filled our player quota. Everything went wrong in the organization. Shikabala? They never spoke to me about him, but for the reasons I just mentioned it would be impossible for him to return to Zamalek. Our reinforcements were, basically, the players that were playing less. I repeat, Zamalek had good players, but there was no team and that would have to be the main task for the coach.
R – Let’s get to the point: Why did it all end?
JP – It ended because I felt disrespected in relation to many things, mainly towards my position as coach. I was strongly disrespected after a game, disrespected in my dignity and professionalism…
R – But the following week it looked like it had been fixed…
JP – But there were scars. I spoke to the president but the relationship became different. There were a lot of breaches, a lot of sorrow. It was impossible to work with that. What happened was explained to the club in my resignation letter… Situations which have to be discussed in the proper places or between the people involved. It’s not my habit to publicly expose these issues, which are only relevant to the parties. Unless I’m forced to…
R – Had anything similar to this happen in Portugal?
JP – Yes, when I was in Guimarães. We were in second place and the president complicated our job so much that I had to leave.
R – Mortada Mansour, Zamalek’s leader, is a very powerful person in Egypt…
JP – So I was told, I am aware of that, that he is powerful at many levels, but that couldn’t influence me. I actually had great empathy with him from the day we met. I respect and admire his personality. He is a leader. What I don’t admit are violations towards my dignity as a person and towards the profession of coach, which must always be respected. That’s why contracts have rights and duties. My relationship with the president was never the same after that incident… Weird things happened!
R – What things?
JP – I’m not going to disclose just yet. It will be dealt with legally and in the proper locations. But I can tell you, for example, that they hosted me in a hotel which forced to lose two hours in traffic. In the last week I was not allowed to enter the hotel several times, because they said the club wasn’t paying. I almost had to sleep on the street.
On New Year’s Eve, I went to change clothes with the security guard at the door. We decided to leave (me and Professor Natal) and left Cairo with the clothes we had on our bodies, having communicated by letter that we were leaving and why.
R – Is it true that you are about to sign for a club in Saudi Arabia?
JP – Before going to Zamalek I had several invitations (from China, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and even an African national team) but I chose Egypt because I thought I’d stay there longer. But right now I have absolutely nothing. I would like to coach in Portugal again, but here, I don’t know why, things are hard for me…
What are your thoughts on Jaime Pacheco’s sudden departure? Let us know in the comments section below…