Centenary

February 14th 2014, Valentine’s Day, was the start of a new professional experience in Chinese football. Upon arriving, I told all my technical staff that we should try to enjoy our work every day until it was time to return to Spain. And so it has been. We have enjoyed our work in Beijing, in Shanghai and now in Guizhou. We have always tried to apply ourselves as honest professionals; adapting to Chinese customs and being respected everywhere we’ve gone.

We have managed to achieve and exceed the objectives set by our clubs, not letting financial and sporting limitations stop us, and we feel very proud of having raised Spain’s prestige.

Our first official Super League match was in Beijing, in the Worker’s Stadium against Changchun Yatai. We won by 1-0, kicking off a long professional career that reached its hundredth match last week, at home against Hebei Fortune, which we won by 4-3.

I like to believe that dreams can become true as long as we fight for them. Getting here has not been an easy ride, and maintaining our position in such a different football environment from the one we are used to, with cultural and communication barriers, has made these hundred Super League matches even more special for me.

It is an honour to be among the 25 coaches with most matches played in the Chinese Super League. Le Jang Soo (295), Ljubisa Tumbakovic (178), Milorad kosamovic (173), Arie Haan (137), Dragan Okuka (129), Chang Woe-Ryong (120) Valery Nepomniachi ( 117) and Sven-Goran Erickssoon (108), these are the prestigious foreign coaches with more matches than me in the Super League. If everything goes as it should, by the end of this season I should be the eighth foreign coach with most matches in the history of Chinese football, and that will make me extremely proud.

Being able to tell these stories and live such special and different experiences is very rewarding. For this reason, I wish to thank the presidents of Beijing Guoan, Shanghai Shenhua and Guizhou Henfeng Zhicheng for having placed their trust in me and allowing me to reach one hundred matches in the Super League. Of course, I also carry in my heart all the players that I have had the opportunity to coach in this time; their effort and hard work has allowed me to reach many goals. And the same goes for my technical staff, whose support and contribution have made this long journey possible.

Last but not least, I also wish to express my gratitude to the fans of the three great clubs I have coached, because they have always shown me great respect and affection.

There are still 12 matches left in this season and I hope to achieve the objective of maintaining Guizhou in the Super League, after the club worked so hard to gain promotion last year. This is our challenge and our goal. After that, time will tell.

All the best,

Gregorio Manzano Ballesteros

Coach of Guizhou Henfeng Zhicheng