Leo Burgess given task of restoring Vasco to former glory
Leo Burgess is excited by the challenge of coaching Vasco da Gama on their return to the Bermuda Football Association leagues next season.
The former Somerset Trojans and Ireland Rangers forward has been appointed as head coach of the club’s senior team and will also serve as their technical director at both senior and youth levels.
“I’m buzzing and ready to hit the ground running with the team,” Burgess, 29, told The Royal Gazette. “I’m happy to start my coaching career at senior level with a club like Vasco.
“Everyone seems so nice, supportive and excited, which makes it an even better feeling going into my first senior coaching gig.
“This is my first time coaching senior football but I have been developing young talent for some time now, maybe seven-plus years. That has been my focus and still is, but I just want to challenge myself to now manage and build something special within the senior football structure.”
Vasco president Richard Ambrosio is thrilled to have secured Burgess’s services as the club return to the First Division this season.
“I look forward to welcoming Coach Leo and his team to Vasco da Gama Club,” he said. “We have a rich footballing legacy and I look forward to seeing him build on that legacy in order to put together a competitive and cohesive team.”
Burgess heads up the LB Football Academy Bermuda, where he has helped in the development of numerous young footballers.
“Coach Leo will be a fantastic addition to the Vasco youth programme team,” said club youth coach Germano Botelho.
“His academy should help to reinforce our coaching staff, while his technical direction will help my team and me focus on administering the programme. Our partnership should hopefully allow the Vasco youth programme to grow from strength to strength.”
The club withdrew from the league for the second time before the start of last season because of a shortage of players, having initially done so in 2000 before returning for the 2018-19 season.
Burgess is just as thrilled to see the restoration of a pathway for the club’s youth players to aspire to the senior ranks.
“I believe it was critical for Vasco to put the senior programme back into the league,” he said.
“They already have a good youth structure and I will work with the coaches to help give the programme the boost it needs. The only thing that was missing was a senior programme to complete the pathway for the youth.
“This is why I say it was critical because the last thing you want as a club is for you to develop players and they go to other clubs because they don’t have any pathway. I’m happy I can help build that.”
Burgess is also excited to have been granted the opportunity to coach one of the island’s most decorated clubs, Vasco having won multiple league and cup honours in their heyday in the 1980s and 1990s.
“I’m thrilled and I can’t wait to add to what already has been built,” he added.
However, Burgess has tempered his expectations for the club’s first season back in the league and has instead put his emphasis on laying a solid foundation from which to build.
“Truthfully, I don’t expect to go out there and win the league in one go,” he said. “I do, however, seek to take the first step forward and build the foundation within the team.
“This will be crucial in us building a side that not only gets promoted, but a team that can get promoted when ready and stay in the highest league among Bermuda’s top clubs.”
Asked if he has any intentions of playing, Burgess added: “I’ve been asked that a lot.
“I think it’s important for coaches to trust their players and I have to step back and let the players play the game. I can do that, but I don’t really intend on playing.”