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Interview with Luc_Holtz, NT WC Champion with Luxembourg

After the incredible win of the World Cup Title of WC XXIX by Luxembourg, a small country with only 244 active teams, against the Netherlands in the World Cup final (643230879) (3 -1), it was impossible not to interview the man behind this wonderful success: Luc_Holtz (2869802), the manager of Luxembourg NT Team.

An interview made by rik_daan079 (13289066) and LA-alpacstily (7514635), translated by LA-Tanne (9857038)


Welcome, and congratulations on winning the World Cup! First, could you tell something about yourself?
I have been playing Hattrick for 14 years and I am - let me check - 45 years old. So I am a bit of an "old bastard". I am happily married and a father of a daughter. Both of them are not at all into Hattrick or Football, but, after the final win, both of them congratulated me.

After the 3 - 1 victory, I was bouncing around the room and my wife took me for a crazy person - that’s how it is in our home! Sorry, what was the question again?


What is your connection with Luxembourg? Have you ever visited it yourself? If so, how would you describe the country?
I have a very close tie to Luxembourg. My wife is from there and the whole family is living in the north of the country. So I know quite a lot about it and I really like the type of people that are living there.

As a part of my family lives there, I am very often in Luxembourg. They are proud, but down to earth people, this is what I really like about them. And they know their ways with food. If you ever come in Luxembourg, take your time and visit some of their restaurants. It is a very nice and green country with a lot of small villages in the north. The biggest city in the north is Ettelbreck with approximately 8,800 inhabitants. Just to give you dimensions. But I can recommend a visit to everyone!


Let's go a bit deeper in your campaign. Of course it's quite logic that you probably didn't expect this victory (although one of your assistants made a joke about it just before the campaign began ^^), but what were your real expectations before the start of the tournament?
First, I wanted some things very different from my first term. But, for starters, the goal is to qualify for the World Cup. Every national coach of Luxembourg that I have worked with has reached that goal, and I didn’t want to be the first one not to qualify for the World Cup.


How does the scouting system works in a small country like Luxembourg to manage to produce top WC players to win a WC? Do you have some secrets to tell us?
It is all about the Team. Everyone is encouraged to speak up and share his opinion that are of course not always the same. We discuss things and I confront my ideas with the opinions of the others. Usually, I have a clear idea for the game day on Monday. But, in the end, it is quite possible that we don't stick to the plan and have to adapt. The good thing is that, although we have different opinions, we have no quarrels whatsoever. We win together, we lose together.

A few seasons back, we have adapted our scouting system. Grabner (5368205) (now NT coach in Austria) was our head scout. He had the idea to minimize the scouting to a smaller amount of players, but give those players more support. You have to be sure that the managers support their players for the Team, and an intense contact with them is crucial. But this only works with a small amount of players. There is no room left with the size of the actual scouting team.


Can you tell us a little bit more about the squad who won the WC? Who are the most special players for you that you will always remember?
I think we had a very good mix of players and skills. When I look at the skill targets of big nations, I have to admit that we cannot keep up with that. Some of our players have strengths, that no other player in the squad has, so it is impossible to replace that player. On the other hand: If those players are in good shape, they are just awesome. So it is kind of hard to pin it on one player. I had to look it up, but I think that every nominated player joined a match at least once.


About Round I: you managed to win the 2nd place in a group with great teams like Switzerland, Russia and Greece. What were the harder games to prepare? And the easier? At what time did you know you were about to qualify?
We were thinking game after game and everyone was doing his homework really hard when researching the upcoming opponent. Our first qualification game was against Mexico, which we won quite luckily. Mexico! They are building a strong squad and I expected a lot from them in this qualification. When I realized that we might end up against Mexico again, I hoped that it wouldn't be us facing them.

Let me also briefly talk about the match against Russia: (636437843). That was a tough one. We were down in confidence and Team Spirit and needed at least a draw. In the end, I chose a lineup that I now refer to as the "Russian Lineup". The game was a draw with 0-0 and we qualified. It was only the 92th minute when I was sure about that.


About Round II: you qualified very quickly since the 2nd game, with a PIN, then MOTS strategy. How did you come to define this strategy?
I hoped that we would be underestimated and wanted to have a win in the first game. After that, we wanted to get it over with with a win against England. But Bink286 (440089), that national coach of England, expected our MOTS and we were really lucky to win that game. After the 7 - 2 victory, I apologized to him. We needed luck in this game, but that result was just too much and England was basically out of the World Cup.


And about Round III: this time you qualified with triple PIC, in a group with Poland, Belgium and Liechtenstein. It didn't look a group that easy though, can you please explain your strategy?
No, it wasn’t easy at all. We had the advantage to face Poland, one of the strongest squads in the World Cup, in the first game. Our goal was to lose with a maximum difference of one goal or, with a bit of help, even get a point out of the game. Until the 90th minute we had our draw, but then Poland scored with a counter attack. I knew from back in the days that every goal counts, so we were ok with that.

And it came true. In the last game we had one goal more than Liechtenstein and just needed a draw. Liechtenstein had to win to advance and was forced to play offensively.


About Round IV: you did 2 PICs, and then a winning MOTS against Italia. Did you expect Italia to play PIC, and not MOTS for the medal like you did
Yes and no. I didn’t think that Italy would play it cool, but we were quite sure that they wouldn't go for a MOTS. For a country like Italy, everything that counts is the gold medal, so you can’t really MOTS in the last game of Round IV. Maybe that changed now. :) I always said that, if there is a chance to have a medal, we will give everything which includes also a MOTS. On a sidenote: also in this game we "just" needed a draw because of the goal difference.


About the final: you faced a country that is much bigger and better in almost everything (just kidding ^^). Nonetheless, you were able to beat them. What was your pre-match preparation look like?
I like the Netherlands. I live very close to the border and I am very often in their country for visiting. Since last Sunday, I like them even more. The preparation was very tiring, because the time was very short. Directly after the semi-final we started preparing. We had a confidence and spirit advantage and talked about the various lineups. If you want to take a look, here is our discussion about that: (17267381.21).

We were sure that Regia was doing his maths on his best lineup. So we did the exact same thing and a 5-3-2 counter attack was the lineup we found would be the most suitable for Regia and the Netherlands. So it was clear that we could go for a 3-5-2 or a 2-5-3. I decided to go on the 2-5-3 formation and hoped that he would not expect that from us. If it was really a surprise for him, I don’t know.


At the end, you beat three Italian coaches in a row, scricciolo (9475869) with Italy, Rastelli (1219539) with Canada, and then the famous multi-medal owner HPE-Regia5 (911825). Any special thought about them and Italian people?
I like them!!!


Now take a breath, and tell us how do you feel, and how Luxembourg people feel about this victory. Did you celebrate it well?
After the 3rd goal in the final, a manager from Luxembourg (Hi there, Sancho!) asked me if I already realized what we had just achieved. I think I haven't realized it by now. I am so proud of my whole scouting team, the community and the managers that supported us so great. Without that special bond, that gold medal would not have been possible. We had over 250 posts that evening in the national forum - for such a small country, a huge count. So the short answer is "yes!": We were hanging on the screens and celebrated.


Countries like the Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy can usually lean on the support of a huge community, but Luxembourg is quite small with only 244 (!) active teams. How important was this community for you during your campaign?
It was very important. Without the support of the community, this success would not have been possible at all. You have to rely on the few active teams that are around, and they repay your trust. This is the main advantage, that you can work calmly on your side at the end and not thinking about training of players, because you know that they hold up their end of the deal. You have the trust of the community. You are a part of them. And you are allowed to lose or not to qualify for a World Cup.


It seems like you won't go for another term as National Coach of Luxembourg. What are your plans now? Do you want to run for another country?
I am working since 2013 for the National Team of Luxembourg and I have my roots there. At the moment, I don’t see myself running for another country. But, on the other side, I am not running in Luxembourg either. We have already begun to prepare for the upcoming qualification and I will do my part to support them. I will stay on the team. Maybe I will run again as the National Coach of Luxembourg, but I don’t know as of now.

In the end, the name of the coach is put there under the medal, but in truth the whole team wins the cup. At least with us.

Roude Léiw huel se!

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