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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Leadership, Commitment, Perfectionism: How Gino Pozzo Led Watford FC to the FA Cup

When Watford FC made it to the FA Cup final for the first time in 35 years, it made headlines in the sports world and beyond. The milestone in 2019 was a direct result of the club’s leadership under owner Gino Pozzo. After purchasing the club in 2012 with his father and assuming total control just two years later, he led Watford to a crowning achievement. See why Watford has embraced the Italian, and how he managed what some might call a miraculous comeback. 

The Fans of Watford 

The fans of Watford may not have known very much about Gino Pozzo before the purchase. Some may have recognized him and his family as club owners, but their expectations may not have been very high. Since the Pozzos have been at the top of the chain, though, the results have been undeniable. 

Before Pozzo took over, the team was faltering. In 2012, the team finished 16th out of 24 in the Football League Championship. The transformation in just a few years was remarkable, and the team’s audience has followed every win with pride. As was to be expected, fans were ecstatic about the turnaround. 

Mike Parkin, the cohost of From the Rookery End, said that many in the crowd think of Pozzo as a type of savior. The popular Watford podcaster went onto to say, “To rescue Watford and then transform the club into what we see today, I’m not sure there’s anyone who isn’t very grateful. Barely a matchday goes past when I don’t think about what would have happened if he hadn’t taken over. [The Pozzos] seem to be football people who understand Watford, want to take the club in the right direction.”

Relocating to London 

Gino Pozzo and his family didn’t move to London immediately after obtaining co-ownership of Watford, though the decision was clear after he decided that this was where he wanted to devote his attention. In 2013, he was ready to make Watford his home base, so he could exert his influence on the future of the league.

The Harvard Business School graduate had always loved football, and this was his chance to open the doors to new challenges. With every uphill climb, he learned from the experience and used the lessons to fuel his next steps. At Watford’s training grounds, he oversees operations, establishing the resources he needs to meet his many responsibilities. 

 It may not have been a simple decision for him and his family, but it was one that turned out to be a winning combination for them all. Over the years, his wife and children have grown to love the customs and traditions in Britain, and to adopt many of the cultural touchstones as their own.

Leadership Groups

Pozzo has found that each of his clubs works best when he collaborates with his technical directors and operations managers. At Watford, he relies on Filippo Giraldi to oversee the squad and Scott Duxbury to control the business. However, despite the authority of both these positions, Pozzo is still involved in making major decisions. If there are questions about who should be playing or managing, Pozzo ensures he’s able to give his input. If he’s not at the training ground for the day, it’s not unusual for him to talk to Giraldi and Duxbury more than 10 times per day. 

Everyone who works with him has their own relationship with him. Vincenczo Cardillio, a scout for Watford based in Germany, described Pozzo this way: “He is in effect the sporting director. He decides everything. He is a perfectionist, scrupulous, honest, someone who anticipates things before they happen.” To others, he’s more of a paternal figure. The Nigerian forward, Isaac Success, compared his relationship to that of a father and son. Even those without close ties to him recognize his dedication to the team by showing up and doing the work. 

Pozzo has been working in football since leaving school, and he has no plans to stop any time soon. In fact, he looks forward to developing Watford in the upcoming years. No matter what happens, he’s going to give the team and the fans everything he’s got. 

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