• Share it:

Javier Clemente

Injuries to players are part and parcel of the game, but it is very rare that a coach has to miss a game because of incapacity and Serbia’s 57-year-old national team coach Javier Clemente was recently counting his lucky stars when he hurt himself in a cycling accident. First of all, he got off relatively mildly with a fractured collarbone, four broken ribs and a pleural injury, and secondly he ultimately still managed to travel to Belgrade in time for the preparations for his team’s EURO 2008 qualifiers against Finland and Portugal. After doctors had warned him against flying because of potential complications relating to his pleural injury, the Spaniard decided to make the 2,300km trip from Bilbao to Belgrade by car. Two drivers, one his co-coach Simo Krunic, chauffeured Clemente, safely though not entirely pain-free, on the 30-hour trip to his destination, which was broken up by an overnight stay in Trieste. Three days later, Serbia played out a disappointing 0-0 draw with Finland, but this was followed by the good news that, instead of another trans-European road trip, Clemente could travel to the game in Lisbon by plane. In Portugal, a happy ending was in store for the ailing coach as his team recorded a 1-1 draw against the group favourites.