José María Olazábal once described himself as having far more in common as a man-manager with former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola than Real Madrid firebrand Jose Mourinho.
And he proved it this week by taking elements from a motivational video Guardiola used to inspire the Catalan giants to win 13 of 18 titles under his reign to inspire Europe’s Ryder Cup team to glory this week.
While Guardiola commissioned a video themed on the Russell Crowe sword and sandals epic ‘Gladiator’ to motivate Lionel Messi and Co before their 2009 Champions League victory over Manchester United in Rome, Olazábal used elements of that movie as well as Al Pacino’s “Any Given Sunday” speech in a seven-minute clip produced by European Tour Productions to get his team in the mood this week
“José wanted to use some of the elements of the videos that Pep had used to inspire Barcelona in Rome,” team room liason Jamie Spence explained. “We had bit of Gladiator combined with great Ryder Cup moments from the past, including Seve.
“There were also lots of great sporting moments - Usain Bolt and other Olympic athletes from London, Spain winning the World Cup, great wins in rugby…
“It was my idea to use a bit of the Al Pacino speech for the American Football movie Any Given Sunday, where he says: ‘Now I can’t make you do it. You gotta look at the guy next to you. Look into his eyes.’”
While he’s a Real Sociedad fan to the core, Olazábal regards Guardiola as a close friend and has invited him to Medinah this week as a guest rather than a team mascot.
But Spence hopes that the Catalan, who stepped down as Barcelona coach last year and is now spending a sabbatical year with his family in a luxurious Manhattan apartment, will speak to the European players at some stage over the weekend.
“Pep is coming but we don’t know exactly when,” Spence said. “There’s no firm plan in place to have him talk to the team but we’d like that. It would be great.”
Guardiola’s cerebral style brought Barcelona unprecedented success and Olazábal believes they have a similar management style.
“I’m more like Guardiola than Mourinho,” Olazábal said this summer. “My style is based on my feelings and experiences. That’s what it’s all about: being truly able to transmit those feelings in words, gestures, actions and images. The point is to try and make the players realise how much this competition means.”
As Pacino said: “That’s all it is. Now, whattaya gonna do?”