Media observers have sometimes referred to him as the “Football Doctor.” It speaks to the ability of Gino Pozzo to take a struggling soccer team and turn it around into a competitive club that, in turn, generates an enthusiastic fan base.
Nothing breeds happy fans like winning.
Gino Pozzo has football in his DNA. He hails from an Italian family steeped in the tradition of the sport. Gino was raised in the northeastern Italian city of Udine located in the Friuli-Venezia region. His parnets are Giampaolo and Giuliana Pozzo. This family was once best best known for owning a woodworking and tool business.
But Gino’s mother was closely related to a member of the ownership of the Udine football club, the Udinese Calcio. Organized as a club 1986, this team now plays in Series A. Its roots date back to 1911, however. Giampaolo assumed ownership in 1986. The Pozzos brought the team out of years of doldrums and transformed it into a club with a winning tradition.
Working side-by-side with his father, Gino Pozzo learned the business and management end of football from the ground up. However, before he became deeply involved, he set off to the United States to attend graduate school at Harvard University. He earned a master’s degree there. Perhaps more importantly, he fell in love with a young Spanish woman who would become his wife.
Opting to live in Spain after college, Pozzo took up residence in Barcelona. It wasn’t long before football became part of his professional pursuits. Gino took ownership of Granada CF. This was a team that was on the brink of closing in 2009. It was rife with financial difficulties and other problems. To turn things around, Gino signed a partnership agreement with Udinese Calcio. This allowed Granada to import large numbers of Italian players. The result was a rejuvenated Granada team that was promoted and won its group. It made a triumphant return to the Second Division after a 22-year absence.
Mr. Pozzo made big news when it was announced that he would purchase Watford FC in the United Kingdom. It was another struggling team that had enjoyed a glorious past. Once owned by rock superstar Elton John, Watford was a powerhouse in the 1980s and 90s. But the team fell on hard times. Watford was an organization that required the ministrations of the “Football Doctor.”
Pozzo’s approach at Watford perplexed many at first. For example, his manager position became a revolving door. Many called Pozzo’s management style “reckless” and “illogical.” But the criticism quickly began to fade when the team started improving year by year. There was method in the madness of Pozzo’s tactics.
In just four years, Watford FC had clawed its way back to the Premier League, England’s top-tier division. In 2019, a major milestone was reached when the Hornets played in a FA Cup Final match. No football fan in the U.K. would have believed that possible four years earlier. The Pozzo magic had worked again, just as it had in Italy with Udinese Calcio and Spain’s Granada team.
Mike Parkin is a presenter with From the Rookery End, a popular Watford podcast. He said a “large percentage” of Watford fans view Mr. Pozzo as “a savior” of the club. He added that the Pozzo family not only understands football, but they honored the culture of Watford. Pozzo came in with an enormous desire to uplift the venerable Watford Hornets and place this organization on a winning path for years to come.
Longtime football scout Vincenzo Cardillo described Gino as a man of “drive and passion.” He’s a hands-on kind of owner who wants to be involved in decisions on all levels.