Former West Bromwich Albion Star Lands Key European Job

Former West Bromwich Albion and Brighton defender Sebastien Pocognoli has been named as the new Royale Union Saint-Gilloise head coach, the club have confirmed.

Alexander Blessin, who was appointed as manager of the Belgian top-flight side last summer, recently left to succeed Fabian Hürzeler in the St. Pauli dugout after the 31-year-old stood down from his position to be Roberto De Zerbi’s successor at the Amex.

Pocognoli was recently in charge of Belgium’s U18s side but the 36-year-old has now been announced by the 2024 Belgian Cup champions as their new manager, having signed a two-year contract, and will take his first training session on Monday as Union Saint-Gilloise begin pre-season preparations in The Netherlands.

The left-back had an esteemed playing career, winning the Eredivisie with AZ Alkmaar back in 2009 when former Manchester United and Barcelona boss Louis van Gaal was at the helm. Eventually, he found himself moving to West Bromwich Albion for a reported £1.5 million fee from German outfit Hannover in 2014 – a decade ago next week.

He joined the Baggies when Alan Irvine was in charge but quickly lost his place in the team once Tony Pulis took over a few months into his spell. Ultimately, the fullback’s time in the West Midlands didn’t go as planned as he made merely 21 appearances in all competitions and was even loaned out to Brighton during the 2016/17 campaign in which he helped steer the Seagulls to the Premier League for the first time in history.

Pocognoli left West Brom at the end of his contract in 2017 and decided to hang up his boots and begin a career in coaching which has now led him to one of the best clubs in Belgium.

Writer’s View

It is always fascinating to see the evolution of football players becoming managers, especially stars that many supporters have forgotten. Pocognoli certainly falls into this category with West Bromwich Albion fans as he hardly featured for the club after arriving for a seven-figure fee.

Nevertheless, this is an impressive move on a personal level for Pocognoli. USG are one of the biggest sides in his home country, having lifted the cup last season, and it gives him a platform to get his managerial career off the ground. If it works out well for him, perhaps the Baggies will see him back in English football within a few seasons.

About Adam Scully 1082 Articles
Deputy Head of Writing

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