OVER the last few days Juan Carlos Osorio has watched Chelsea against Barcelona.
He has kept an eye on Javier Hernandez for West Ham at Liverpool and was invited to the Carabao Cup final between Arsenal and Manchester City to see his former player, David Ospina.
Osorio, 56, is used to having the best seat in the house.
And he will have an even better view of Germany’s opening match at the World Cup in Russia as he manages the reigning champions’ opponents, Mexico.
It has not always been nice seats high up in the stands of the world’s greatest football grounds, though.
Because the Colombian went to unprecedented lengths to watch Liverpool train when he was studying at the city’s university.
Two years of spying from a house overlooking the Melwood training ground — via binoculars — maintained his enthusiasm, and kept his dream alive, of one day becoming a top manager.
The pathway, which included being Manchester City’s conditioning coach, was always going to be unconventional but the hard work and the sacrifices have paid off spectacularly.
Osorio said: “In the 1980s, there was a lot of money in Colombia with some big stars, so I could not play regularly.
“I stopped playing around 24 and planned to become a professional manager. I knew my way would be a long way.
“I planned to be the best conditioning coach I could be and, by doing that, would end up getting my coaching badges.
“I graduated in exercise science and human performance from Southern Connecticut State University. I graduated in 1990. I worked from 1990 to 1997 in youth soccer in New York.
“I told my wife Julieth — and we are still together today — that I wanted to chase my dream to manage.
“So I sold everything, watches, a car, to pay for two years to go to John Moores University in Liverpool to study a masters in science and football. She stayed in the States.
“I went to Liverpool’s training ground at Melwood three days in a row but they did not let me in.
“I started walking around and found a small hole through the brick so I could look.
“I looked back and I saw this window overlooking the training ground. I approached the house, home of the McManus family.
“I spoke to the husband Tom and asked to rent the room over-looking the pitch.
“I told them I wanted to become a football coach and would pay them £50 a week. They said ‘what?’ But they let me. Still today, I am still in touch with that wonderful family.
“I could see everything. When it was raining, and it rained a lot, I looked through the window with binoculars.
“It was 1998. The only time they had two managers, Gerard Houllier and Roy Evans.
“The players were Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman. They had a little forward called David Thompson. It was also the start of Steven Gerrard’s career. I used to watch the academy in the evening as they only had one pitch.
“I went back to the United States and got a job with New York MetroStars as a conditioning coach and started to build a reputation.
“I once went to watch Chicago Bulls basketball team train in 1984. I watched Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman train. Everything they did was game-related.
“After that, I told myself when I coached, everything, even fitness-wise, would be game-related.”
In an ironic twist, it was a few years later that Osorio returned to the north west — but this time in a working capacity in the blue half of Manchester.
He said: “In 2001, I answered the phone and they said it was Manchester City and I said ‘f**k off’ and hung up. I thought that it was not Manchester City.
And they called me back. Because it was.
“The flew me over for a trial. We did a training session with the reserves and youth which included Shaun Wright-Phillips, Kasper Schmeichel, Steve Ireland, Dickson Etuhu, Nedum Onuoha, Joey Barton, Daniel Sturridge. Joe Royle offered me the job.
“I was not sure to leave my wife again, so I turned it down.Two weeks later I got the same call from Kevin Keegan, who was now the manager.
“The first year was when they were relegated again, to what is now the Championship. It was fantastic working for Keegan.
“Because City were not in the Premier League, I asked Alex Ferguson to allow me to his training sessions at United. I watched them a lot.
“He made a huge impact on my career on rotation and he explained why all the players need to be involved.
“It is a way to make them feel important. I rotate my teams.
“I give opportunities to everyone. Rotation is not a football principle it is a life principle.
“If you want to make someone feel important, you give them a chance. You are inclusive. Not in easy games but good games. It is about trust.”
Osorio went on to manage club sides in Colombia, the United States and Mexico before landing the job as national boss in 2015.
Mexico topped their CONCACAF World Cup qualifying group, with the United States finishing fifth.
And now the man who spied on Liverpool training sessions 20 years ago will carry the hopes of 127 million people in this summer’s finals in Russia.
An engaging character with perfect English, Osorio added: “On the field, I put my work against anyone.
“The time I spent in England was extremely productive for me. I can never thank enough for having that chance.
“In 2015, I took over as Mexico manager. We only lost one game in qualifying — that was in the last match against Honduras but we had qualified.
“CONCACAF is difficult. The grass is long. It is dry, they throw balls on the field. People run up to the pitch to stop the game.
“The temperatures are above 35C. The stadiums are not very secure. It is a very difficult geographical zone. To play football there can just be unsafe. It can be dangerous, if I am being honest.
“We have had tough matches. Losing 7-0 to Chile in the Copa America was the worst — and we actually beat them 1-0 in a friendly 17 days earlier.”
As for the future, this remains unclear. The priority is the World Cup, with Mexico’s preparations including a friendly at home to Scotland on June 2, before the group matches against Germany, South Korea and Sweden.
Osorio added: “I have turned down the possibility of extending my contract with the Mexican association. The reason being I want to be honest to my bosses.
“If we do well I would like to continue. But I have been contacted by other federations and I do have feelings for other places.
“My boys were born in the States, I would love to manage in England because the thing I miss the most is the day-to-day. The best thing in football is to make players better.
“Ultimately, I would love to be in the Premier League.”