Whether you call it football or soccer, it is easy to see why so many people have made this the number one sport in the world. For business leaders like Italian entrepreneur, Gino Pozzo, the ability to combine his passion for the sport with astute business makes this the sporting sector to be involved in. As the owner who brought the historic Watford FC club back to the English Premier League, Pozzo has added to the success he already achieved in Italy and Spain.
The soccer story for the Pozzo family began in Italy when the patriarch of the group, Giampaolo used the funds from his successful woodworking business to invest in the local Udinese club. The Pozzo family had spent much of their lives supporting the club and the employees of the business hoped Giampaolo would be able to work his business magic on the local team. Giampaolo found it difficult to achieve this dream until he placed his son, Gino in charge of the scouting and recruitment sector of the team.
Thus began the work that has, so far, defined the life of Gino Pozzo in football. At Udinese, the first step taken by Gino was to invest in the scouting sector of the team and hunt down young, overlooked players. Through this process, Pozzo found superstar players, such as Alexis Sanchez who other teams had decided would not make it as a top-flight professional. Pozzo gambled on the young Sanchez and a whole host of other players who had been ignored for their size, attitude issues, or family problems and gave them a chance they quickly repaid. Taking the once struggling Udinese to play in the top European competitions was the achievement of one dream and the birth of another.
Gino felt there was still more to learn from the soccer industry and set out with his young family to move to Barcelona, the home of Spanish soccer. Hoping to prove himself on another global soccer stage, Gino Pozzo quickly set out to create a new dynasty by taking the financially-stricken Granada F.C. club that had fallen from La Liga to Spain’s third tier of soccer. In just a few short years, the Granada team returned to La Liga and continued the success of bringing young players to the Pozzo stable of professionals who would be purchased for little money and sold on for much higher prices.
Few believed the Pozzo model of team ownership could succeed in the English game where football clubs tend to keep their coaches for longer periods than those on the European mainland. Gino set out to prove his doubters wrong when he purchased Watford F.C., a club in the lowest level of the English professional game after a strong period in the 1980s.
The churn of coaches continued at Watford with the Pozzoi family focusing again on developing young players through their academy ranks. In the view of Gino Pozzo, Chair of Watford, the imprint of Watford is placed on his players throughout their time in the junior ranks meaning the Head Coach has little impact on most players. This also means the coach will rarely see the younger youth players arrive in the first team because of the nature of modern soccer. Pozzo explains the common misconception is that a head coach will stay at a club for years, but the average is just two seasons before they fail and are sacked or find success and are poached by a larger team. For Watford, success is maintaining their position in the Premier League with annual improvement along with strong cup runs that produce more revenue for the team.