Georgia: The incredible journey of Euro 2024 debutants

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“We share football philosophies, the same way of developing players and the way we like the game to be played,” Webb says of his relationship with Sagnol.

“I have a Masters [degree] in sports psychology; he said ‘you could really work on the one-to-ones and the group dynamics’ – it really complements his role.

“Also we have really got on as people. If you are going to be in such close proximity you have got to have a good working relationship.”

Webb joined Sagnol’s team in November 2023, splitting his time between Surrey, Tbilisi and scouting Georgian players across Europe.

It has been a culture shock for Webb, who is grateful for training sessions being run in English.

“I’ve learned some little bits of Georgian, but it is a difficult language.”

Are there any particular phrases he has mastered? “No, and I don’t want to embarrass myself by doing some now!”

While his Georgian needs work, Webb’s coaching skills have been praised by the nation’s football journalists as a key reason for their qualification.

“Sagnol needed to bring experience to the team – Webb has brought that,” Georgian football journalist Edo Badalashvili tells BBC Sport. “We needed those who played and coached at the highest level, Sagnol and Webb were also good friends. Sagnol knew what he was doing – it was a great choice.”

“When they lost to Spain 7-1, we were so sad and surprised,” adds Sapanadze. “But after this game, many things changed. The players showed good character, and Webb has helped them show better mentality. He is a very important person in the national team.”

Webb, who never played football professionally, studied sports psychology at university before taking his first job in football as a youth coach at Crystal Palace aged 22.

Across two decades in football he has maintained a passion for developing a stronger mentality in players – something which proved vital in the shootout against Greece.

“I was always fascinated by the idea of players’ characters, their environments, and them as people,” he says.

“Working with Willy, he wanted to bring in different dynamics. At different stages of the camps we tried to focus on different things – in the last one with the play-offs it was about being calm under pressure, shutting out the noise and just doing our job.

“I think that really helped. I did it in a presentation format with the group, then on a one-to-one basis with some of the staff and players. It was about filtering down our message and keeping calm heads.

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“The emotion can sometimes get the better of players, especially when playing in Georgia where the outside noise was incredible.”

While they may have never played at a major tournament, Georgia have a few potent threats as they aim to navigate a tricky Group F also featuring Portugal, Turkey and the Czech Republic.

Prime among those is Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Serie A winner with Napoli and skilful winger extraordinaire.

“Many people think Maradona is the greatest player in football history – we have Kvaradona,” enthuses Saparadze.


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