From having his contract ripped up to captaining Ostersunds FK to Swedish Cup glory, Brwa Nouri saw his footballing career transform from the brink thanks to the belief shown in him by Swansea City’s new manager-to-be Graham Potter.
In an interview back in September 2017 for ESPN, Nouri explained how low things had got for him having been an “exceptional prospect” at AIK. But as he explained:
“I got in with bad people, into bad situations, stayed out late and did that for quite a few years,”
“Eventually the club kicked me out and ripped up my contract. I’d burned my bridges, and my name was black.” – Brwa Nouri
Prior to his link-up with Graham Potter, Dalkurd gave him a chance and after four years, he made the switch to Ostersunds in 2013.
‘One of the best men I’ve ever met in my life’
Speaking so highly of Potter, who helped resurrect his failing career, Nouri – still at Ostersunds making more than 100 appearances, Nouri can “hardly put into words” his career path since joining the club:
“He’s not only a football coach. He’s probably one of the best men I’ve ever met in my life.”
“[Potter] is so emotionally intelligent in his way of interacting [with] people, making you welcome and developing you,”
“He is skilful in so many areas. You have to experience him yourself, but for me, he’s incredible. And I feel so grateful. After what I’ve been through, how far down I’d been, I never thought I’d be able to achieve anything like this. It’s hardly fair to put it into words.”
Not just a good football coach, but evidently an excellent man-manager. He’s put his master’s degree in leadership and emotional intelligence to full use during his incredible seven years in Sweden, leaving Ostersunds in an excellent position, in the top half of the top division having struggled in the fourth tier when he arrived.
Potter spoke about the importance of “character development and nurturing the individual as a person” when recruiting the right players and making it work.
Swansea City have lacked that in recent years, signing individuals and failing to find a way to make them into a team.
To say that Potter’s Ostersunds team as a whole – was greater than the sum of its parts would be a huge understatement.
‘character development, and nurturing the individual as a person, is vital’
Potter used Jamie Hopcutt as an example, a player who failed to make it at York City, and yet scored a superb goal to help Ostersunds beat Galatasaray in the Europa League – some turnaround.
“If you’re released from English football and you’re not physically strong enough for the non-league system, you can be out of it quite quickly,”
“Jamie just didn’t fit anywhere in the UK, and coming to our level where the physicality perhaps isn’t the same, he could survive and develop. He’s contributed enormously to what we’ve done.
“But my view with whoever we recruit is that football is a team game played by human beings. If you pay that no regard, then it’s a rocky road, and problems can arise. I think character development, and nurturing the individual as a person, is vital for us.” – Graham Potter
Ostersunds chairman Daniel Kindberg explained the impact of Potter’s off-the-pitch ideas, and how the 43-year-old got his players to perform their own production of Swan Lake at a local theatre in front of 500 people.
“We do it to win football games. It connects directly to that,”
“People say, ‘In that case, every club should do it,’ but good luck to them because we only know it works with the context we have here. It’s a creative environment where people want to make a stand and do things.
We don’t do it for fun. How fun do you think it is to dance to Swan Lake in front of 500 people? It’s terrible. The players were so afraid. Death was nothing! But after a performance like that, you can’t beat the feeling. We’ve had a lot of footballing success, but after you’ve battled everything to do a show, it feels deeper. Every year we have a win like that, and it builds so much of our identity.”
“We do it to be more brave on the pitch. And when the results have been the way they have, nobody can argue against it.” – Daniel Kindberg
Graham Potter will be in Swansea next week to finalise the appointment and give a full press conference. He sounds like the perfect candidate to help re-build us back into a team that can compete again after our three-year decline that inevitably ended in Premier League relegation in May.
With a high number of first-team players expected to leave over the next month or two, Graham Potter will have his work cut out to build a competitive squad, but it is something that he has done before to great success.
It’s no wonder really why the Swans made him their new manager.