As our modern age moves ever closer to a world engulfed in technology, it is good to know that video games are keeping pace. After this weekend’s Ligue 1 match between PSG and Stade de Reims, it seems that Football Manager can now be seen as a legitimate step into the coaching world. Just look at Reims coach Will Still.
I’ve only known about 30-year-old Reims boss Will Still for 24 hours and I’m already obsessed with his career arc.The man doesn’t just speak fluent English and French, he does it with a native accent on both fronts. pic.twitter.com/TmCFOr3gl3
— HLTCO (@HLTCO) January 31, 2023
Still, who was born in Belgium in 1992, is still young enough to be in the prime of a playing career, but instead, he’s lighting up the touchline in the North of France. Growing up as a soccer player, Still claims his love of Football Manager was the reason he swapped playing for coaching as a teenager. He began studying coaching at Myerscough College where he got an internship working for Preston North End as the assistant manager of the U14 squad.
From there he landed a few jobs for various Belgian sides as a Video Analyst where he proved himself to be an extremely valuable asset, allowing him to make the jump to Assistant Manager with Lierse SK in 2017. After Lierse began experiencing financial problems, Still left for Beerschot V.A., another lower division side in Belgium, along with managers Stijn Vreven and Hernán Losada.
Promotion followed and DC United came calling for Losada, leaving the manager position vacant. Still took the job and managed to guide Beershot to ninth in the Belgian Pro League, but when a new manager was brought in to replace him, the then 28-year-old made the jump up to Reims, once again as an assistant.
Alongside manager Óscar García, Still helped the French side for the first half of the 2021 Ligue 1 season before returning to Belgium with Standard Liège to be closer to his coaching classes. At the end of the campaign, he was offered his old position at Reims as an assistant to García which he promptly accepted.
The following October, García was relieved of his duties, and Still was given the interim position while Reims searched for a suitable replacement. As it turned out, their new coach was already in charge.
Incredibly interesting character Will Still. 12 games unbeaten in Ligue 1. Got into management via a passion for football manager, Low key jobs at Preston and in Belgium, speaks fluent French too. No pro licence yet either pic.twitter.com/lsCTgcotgm— Gianfranco Shola (@GianfrancoShoIa) January 31, 2023
Still immediately oversaw a phenomenal run of form, leading management to give him the job for the rest of the season, and they haven’t looked back.
Since taking over, Les rouges et blancs have not lost a single match in all competitions under Still and have the seventh-best record in Ligue 1. He’s been so good that Reims has taken the £22,000 fine for having a manager without a professional coaching license.
Every. Single. Game.
Reims are fined £22,000-per-game every time they play under their manager Will Still, due to him not having his pro licence yet.They are currently unbeaten in 12 league games under him and drew 1-1 away at PSG last night.
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) January 30, 2023
This all came to a head on Jan. 29, when Reims traveled to the Parc des Princes to take on PSG. Still coached his side to a massive 1-1 draw against the Parisians, thanks to a 96th-minute equalizer by Folarin Balogun. The 21-year-old has been on fire this season, scoring 11 goals in Ligue 1, and has been attracting attention from American fans as he is still eligible to make the switch and play for the United States.
Folarin @balogun wouldn’t be denied
— Ligue 1 English (@Ligue1_ENG) January 29, 2023
The season is still a long way from settled and Reims are comfortably a midtable club at the time of writing as they sit 11 points clear of the relegation places and equally adrift from the European places. It does seem like this could be a success story in the works.
Maybe not this season or even next, but maybe a bigger club sees the consistency in Still’s coaching and takes a gamble. Maybe he stays and Reims makes a deep run in a cup or reaches the Champions League after a few good seasons of investment and faith. Who knows, but thanks to Still, something’s brewing.