Dan Gaspar has more international experience than any American who has never been the manager of the US team at a World Cup.
His relationship with Carlos Queiroz is well-documented, and the two have worked together in several stints together.
Gaspar recently had his dream come true, when Queiroz called and offered Dan the opportunity to join Portugal’s national team staff.
Gaspar is writing a blog for the New York Times in the days leading up to the World Cup, and writes about his roller-coaster ride with Portugal.
The e-mail message from Coach Carlos Queiroz arrived on New Year’s Eve. He said, “Prepare yourself for the World Cup.” It was the best moment of my professional career. He wanted me to join the staff for Portugal’s national team staff. For the past month I have been functioning on only a few hours of sleep.
Now we are preparing for the start of training camp on Friday. Our camp is 600 feet above sea level and we are living at 1,200 feet above sea level to prepare for conditions in South Africa. We leave for the Valley Lodge in Magaliesburg on June 5, but the issue of altitude will come into play only if Portugal progresses to the knockout round from the group stage. It has been an insane pace. But this is my life and soccer is my passion.
It is not often that you get to experience an ultimate dream. Participating in World Cup competition was the only thing missing in my career.
I am proud to be an American-born coach who has earned and been given this opportunity. It was in the U.S.A. that my formal soccer foundation was developed. I feel I am a reflection of our outstanding coaching system and that I in some way serve as a U.S. soccer ambassador during my international travels. My goal was to develop my American ingenuity and combine them with my unique European experiences. This combination has shaped me as a coach. Have no doubt that we have outstanding soccer educators in the U.S. and the rest of the world should recognize this fact. I happen to be the fortunate one. This does not mean I am better or special but simply unique. Hopefully, in the near future we will have more people like me who will have the opportunity to display their skills in the international arena.