Stade Reims manager Will Still is keen to move on from the narrative that he learned his craft through Football Manager.
30-year-old Still, born in Belgium but with English heritage, has been a revelation since his promotion to Reims boss in October 2022 and is currently unbeaten in his first 17 Ligue 1 games in charge.
His rise to prominence has coincided with a storm of Twitter posts keen to remind readers that Still does not hold a UEFA Pro Licence and so Reims were forced to pay a fine of €25,000 per game until he began work on the course earlier this year.
A big Football Manager fan, the narrative around Still is one of an untrained professional who knew nothing of management outside of the video game, ignoring his 11 years of experience and previous stints in charge of Belgian sides Lierse SK and Beerschot V.A.
“It’s a myth that we have to break because we have qualifications, [Nice manager] Didier Digard and myself,” Still said of his Football Manager reputation. “We have the highest possible, or attainable, diplomas so far.
“I repeat, at 30, having the BEPF [Brevet d’Entraineur Professionnel de Football] or the Pro License is very complicated. I couldn’t have done it before because I’m only the age that I am. Of course, diplomas are important and I’m not just a geek who played Football Manager. It’s totally wrong.”
Still began his coaching career in the Preston North End academy before returning to Belgium, the country of his birth, for a series of analytical roles with Sint-Truiden, Standard Liege and Lierse SK.
He was hired by Reims as an assistant manager in 2021. He headed back to Belgium with Standard Liege soon after, only to return to France in the summer of 2022 to continue his work with Reims.