SHANGHAI – Ivan Leko made his first public appearance as head coach of Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai Port FC (previously known as Shanghai SIPG) at the SAIC Motor Pudong Arena on Monday.
The 42-year-old Croatian expressed his ambition at the press conference. “I am a young and ambitious coach, while Shanghai Port is a young and ambitious club,” he said.
Leko also emphasized the importance of teamwork, believing he can help each player in the team to make progress.
Leko flew from Belgium to Shanghai on Jan 14 and underwent a 14-day quarantine before officially taking charge of the team. Before his official unveiling, Leko had trained the team for three days at Century Park in Pudong and had met most of the players.
A former midfielder, Leko began his career at Croatian side Hajduk Split, before moving abroad to play for Spanish side Malaga and Belgian oufits Club Brugge, Lokeren and Germinal Beerschot. Leko also won 13 caps for Croatia and represented his country at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. After retiring at 36, he began his coaching career at Belgian side Oud-Heverlee Leuven.
“Our standard for selecting a head coach is that he can train the team in person, carry out strict management and adapt to the CSL,” said Zhang Min, president of Shanghai Port FC.