By Caleb Adams
Italian Christian Lattanzio joins Charlotte FC having impressive achievements thus far in his coaching career. He’s worked in youth development at Manchester City with some of the top young talents in world soccer, as an assistant to legendary French player turned coach, Patrick Vieira, at New York City FC, and followed him to OGC Nice in France. Lattanzio has also worked with well-respected former-Italian players turned coaches Gianfranco Zola, Fabio Capello, and Euro 2020 winner Roberto Mancini.
Roberto Mancini, who most recently coached Italy to Euro 2020 success, praised Lattanzio, “Christian is, first of all, a very good person. He is very competent about football . He has very good tactical knowledge, really understands sports psychology and knows how to talk to football players. Christian was a very important member of my staff during my time as Manchester City manager.”
Mancini was the one who brought Lattanzio to Manchester City as his assistant. While Lattanzio predominately worked with the first team, Lattanzio did also oversee Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad, a program designed to produce elite, youth talent. Players such as Jadon Sancho, Phil Phoden, Kieran Trippier, Denis Suarez, and Angeliño. Angeliño would later go on to play at Lattanzio’s next stop in his career, New York City FC.
At NYCFC, Lattanzio worked alongside Patrick Vieira in NYCFC’s second ever year in the MLS. NYCFC is owned by the Manchester City group and has a very similar youth system that mirrors Manchester City. One of Lattanzio’s responsibilities at NYCFC was to instill Vieira’s playing philosophy and tactics into the youth players to prepare them for the first team. Some notable NYCFC academy products that he worked with were Jack Harrison now at Leeds United, Gio Reyna now at Borussia Dortmund, and Joe Scally now at Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Lattanzio shared about his time at Manchester City and NYCFC academies, “The lesson I learned is how you can help them make that transition from the second team to the first team… The most important thing is the mentality of the professional player. They need to start getting into that frame of mind, to be really humble, learn on a daily basis, don’t think that because you are a good player in the youth system you are done.”
Lattanzio will be utilizing his youth expertise upon arrival in Charlotte by working alongside technical director Marc Nicholls, academy manager Dan Lock, and the rest of the technical department in building up the academies’ momentum from a strong inaugural season.
In addition, Lattanzio is well acquainted with working with organizations and coaches that value an attractive style of play. Both Mancini at Manchester City and Vieira at NYCFC had modern, attacking playing philosophies like that of Charlotte FC head coach, Miguel Ramírez. He is well-versed in modern tactics, understands the game at a deep level, and has a good sense of how the different MLS teams like to play.
“I like the fact that there is a lot of enthusiasm about sports in North Carolina and in Charlotte… When you mention Charlotte, I think sports, from what I’ve been told, is the center of the community,” added Lattanzio as one of several reasons he’s excited for coaching in Charlotte.
With Lattanzio, Charlotte FC is getting an assistant coach that has experience in youth development, attractive, attacking soccer, and MLS. These are all important aspects that will allow him to adopt quickly to Charlotte FC’s progressive, ambitious and attacking soccer philosophy for its first team and the academy. The Italian’s thorough knowledge of modern, attacking systems and MLS will be critical to Ramírez’s first season in the league.
Spaniard Mikel Antía joins Charlotte FC after a fruitful journey as a soccer player starting in the Real Madrid youth teams and taking him all over Spain, which naturally led into a coaching career. Unlike his time as a soccer player, Mikel’s coaching career has taken him all over the world. From coaching in the Aspire Academy in Qatar, to being part of the staff that promoted Newcastle United to the Premier League in 2017 under reputable coach Rafael Benítez, to most recently in China with Dalian Pro F.C. and many places in between, Antía isn’t short on experience.
As a player he applied his trade as a central defender for Celta Vigo, Real Madrid, Real Valladolid, Real Sociedad, and other Spanish clubs. After hanging his boots, Antía still wanted to be involved in his life’s passion so he decided to become a coach. .
Antía, 48, started out his coaching career as an assistant to current Real Sociedad sporting director, Roberto Olabe. Antía worked with Olabe for the first time in Almería CF and then directly after at Real Unión CF. Afterwards, he got out of his comfort zone in Spain and followed Olabe to Aspire Academy, a Qatari youth development program leading up to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
It was during his time at the Aspire Academy, from 2012 through 2016, that Antía first met Charlotte FC new head coach Miguel Ramírez. They both credit Olabe, who they worked under at Aspire, as being the most influential figure in their soccer education and how they view the game. Antía and Ramírez see eye to eye on their footballing philosophies which roots back to their shared mentor Olabe.
Antía on Miguel and the Charlotte FC project, “I believe in the player, in playing with the ball, in occupying space, in the movement of the players, in creating superiorities, in the understanding of the game, in developing the player from the perspective of how we understand the game, I think the soccer principles connect me with Miguel and to the project in Charlotte.”
It was also at Aspire where Antía really began to become exposed to other perspectives on soccer and hone his youth development skills. He met a multitude of people of different nationalities and soccer backgrounds that were all working together with the same goal of providing the best development for their youth players.
In Antía’s development as a coach, Olabe was not the only Spaniard that had an influence… Antía worked with Benítez at the historic English club Newcastle United. Benítez had previously coached at several prestigious clubs such as Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Liverpool and led Newcastle United to promotion to the Premier League with Antía right beside him along the way. The Premier League opportunity with Benítez was another eye-opening, educational, and influential period for Antía.
Together with head coach Miguel Ramírez and assistant Christian Lattanzio, Antía is looking forward to bringing all that experience to Charlotte FC’s senior and youth teams.
“I am thrilled for the opportunity to join Charlotte FC’s coaching team and work with Miguel and Christian,” said Antía. “I have known Miguel since my time at the Aspire Academy from 2012-2016 and have seen his evolution as a coach. Football is my passion and the possibility of helping build this Club allows me to combine different styles of play based on rhythm, intensity and a solid understanding of the game.”
Led by Miguel Ramirez and with the help of Mikel and Christian, Charlotte FC have assembled a solid coaching staff that is vastly experienced in youth development, modern tactics, and different leagues. Each of them will contribute their own unique perspective and insight learned through their journeys.
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