Throughout the summer, SportingKCAcademy.com is publishing a series of Q&A interviews with each member of the Academy's technical staff. In the second installment, we catch up with Sporting KC Academy Technical Coach Michel Ribeiro.
- Part 1: Academy Director Jon Parry
Where are you from?
I was born in Belgium, but my parents are Portuguese. My wife is from Holland, and that’s where we met. I have to go home to see my mom twice every year, because she would kill me if I didn’t. But that’s OK—family is very important.
What attracted you to soccer?
From a young age, I remember playing with the ball in the street. The street community was different when I was young. Everyone waited for school to end so we could play outside. My parents played a part in that because my dad played soccer, and my mom knows everything about it. They understood the game, so that was great.
Did you have a favorite club or player growing up?
My favorite team now, of course, is Sporting KC. The player I most like to watch is Lionel Messi. I named my French bulldog Leo after him. I enjoy Cristiano Ronaldo, too, but my all-time favorite, who I grew up watching, is Diego Maradona. I like to remember him by his golden days. He was the best ever. When he played for Napoli, he was my idol as a kid. Another guy who I was lucky to train with is the Brazilian Ronaldo. That was one of the best times of my life. He still defines the best No. 9 for me.
What is the best part about being a coach?
Seeing the kids happy and working hard at the same time. I love my job so much; it feels like a hobby. I love everything about it. I wake up and go to bed with a smile on my face every single day. It’s my passion. When you see a kid who you helped throughout his process, like Gianluca Busio, and see them play for the first team, that’s amazing for me and for the entire Academy.
What makes the Sporting KC Academy so special?
I think we are doing a very good job developing players and moving them forward. We believe in all these kids and we fight for their dreams. They have a huge motivation to one day become the next Busio, the next Daniel Salloi, the next Jaylin Lindsey. They work hard to achieve their goals. Of course, we have the guys here to help them, believe in them and push them forward. That’s the most important thing, to work hard every single day. Yes, you have to enjoy it, that’s one. But you have to be hungry to make it.
What is your favorite part of Kansas City:
I live in Overland Park with my wife, and I love it. It’s a great place to live. It’s clean, safe, quiet. We have friends here, too, so we have a good time. We don’t have a favorite specific place in KC, we love the whole city. We like to go out and have dinner two or three times a week. We love to eat good food and have some quality time together. My son is usually off studying in college four hours away, but when he’s here we can finally have some family time, too. I must say that my No. 1 place to be is on the pitch.
What is your favorite food?
I like healthy food because I need to stay fit to show the boys a good example, but I don’t have a specific favorite food. I really like sushi. Once a week there’s definitely a sushi day for me. Here in Kansas City I like barbecue, so once in a while I have that for dinner.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I love life in general. It’s so short, you have to enjoy it. I don’t really have a guilty pleasure to hide. My wife and I do everything together.
What are your favorite places you have visited?
Because of my job, I’ve been everywhere—Russia, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary. My dream destination is Curacao, which is a beautiful Island. I went there with my wife. But that’s just where I’d like to go when it’s time to rest.
What is your favorite movie?
My No. 1 favorite is Scarface. It’s very old but a classic.