Grabbing the Bull by the Horns: Santos Coach Caixinha’s Peculiar Past

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Last night Santos destroyed Queretaro in the first leg of the Liguilla MX Clausura 2015 Final. With a 5-0 lead, the second leg seems like a formality.

Santos Coach Caixinha, however, stated that they still haven’t won, and that they won’t be relaxing for the second game on Sunday. Despite Caixinha’s precaution, it all seems like this will be the Portuguese Coach’s first League title, not only in Mexico, but in his managerial career. He previously won a Copa MX, but la Liga is a much greater milestone.

Caixinha is a strange face in the Mexican league, where coaches are almost always Mexican, Argentinean, Uruguayan, and Tuca Ferreti (who’s been coaching uninterruptedly in Mexico since 1991).  The Portuguese coach is also very outspoken, which brings even more spotlight his way (and some fines).

Making Caixinha an even bigger anomaly in Mexican soccer is the fact that he was a forcado (a sort of non-killing bullfighter) in his youth. In Portugal, killing the bull in bullfights has been banned since the 19th century, so forcados must subdue the bull bare handed by grabbing him by the horns while others trip and jump over the animal.

“I had to follow the tradition. My father was a forcado and so was I,” stated Caixinha in an interview with Excelsior. Being a forcado “teaches you about friendship, solidarity, and helping your teammate above everything else,” because everybody’s life is at stake. The Portuguese coach has also said he sometimes shows Portuguese bullfighting videos to his players.

Caixinha eventually got married and had a son, so after carefully reviewing his life he decided to leave the life of a forcado in order to study. “I had to do it for them,” he said. “But like everybody says, once you become a forcado, you remain one for life.”

This change took him to the world of soccer, where he retired from his goalkeeping post at the young age of 28 in order to pursuit the managerial career that has brought him to Santos Laguna. Adding even more color to the very colorful Mexican league, Caixinha might just become the first forcado to ever win a Liga MX championship.