Many of his close friends call him ‘Pep’ and he may be the new Josep Guardiola of women’s football as Aussie coach Joe Montemurro embarks on a new journey with Arsenal Women.
Montemurro has left a mark on Melbourne City’s W-League team as he guided them to a championship in their inaugural 2015/16 season after they won all their regular season games with a squad he signed from scratch.
He was in the women’s game since he was appointed Melbourne Victory coach in 2014, but was out of the scene briefly after undertaking the role as assistant coach in City’s men’s team last season after John van’t Schip left in January.
But it did not take long for Montemurro to return to the women’s game, when it was announced in November he would coach Arsenal – a team he supported since childhood.
The Gunners are one of the most successful clubs in women’s English football with two FA Super Leagues, 12 FA Premier Leagues and a Champions League trophy in 2007.
And now with the glamour club, the 48-year-old said he was still just the 'average Joe' that was living in Clifton Hill in the past two decades.
“I’ve only ever known to push the boundaries, play a good brand of football and do things in the right way, so I probably put more pressure on myself than what the club puts on me,” Montemurro told FourFourTwo.
“You always respect every step you’ve made, the good times and the bad times because they make you grow and make you a better person.
“Without humility, you can’t go forward. And it’s genuine humility, the will to listen, the want to learn and the desire to always want to respect people around you with what they do and who they are.
“Humility is who I am and what I believe in. It’s the only way you can genuinely learn and grow as a person.
“I don’t see how people can go forward with big egos and thinking that they’ve done what they’ve done and stopping there.
“You’re always going forward, I don’t like to delve in the past, I’ve had some great moments and not so great moments and that’s a part of life more than anything. With all those experiences, you take them, you grow and you develop your identity, style, beliefs and hopefully that can make your team and the people better.”
Montemurro also paid credit to City for giving him the opportunity to create a template for women’s football in the W-League.
He leaves his family behind in Melbourne for now and lives alone, close to his new workplace.
“My goal was to build and to make it the best professional women’s outfit in Australia,” he said.
“I think we’ve left a legacy and template at City which hopefully they can make bigger and better and to aim higher.”
Montemurro was still coming to terms with the situation after a close contact informed him there was an opportunity to manage Arsenal.
He will now be reunited with Scottish star Kim Little who helped City to their 2016 championship.
Arsenal have a spread of talent with the majority of their players having vast experience playing for their countries. It includes Alex Scott, who has 140 English caps, Heather O’Reilly with 231 American appearances and German Josephine Henning.
Montemurro’s first game in charge will be against Liverpool on Monday morning (AEDT).
“It’s a little bit surreal, you go through the gates and you’re in the driveway, the first thing you see is a big sign that says ‘Arsenal Training Ground’ and it’s a magnificent facility,” Montemurro said.
“I was in disbelief when I first read the email about the opportunity, I looked at it twice. I thought someone was playing a joke there.
“The level of quality in the facilities and infrastructure is fantastic and it makes you understand why it’s such a great club and why they’re one of the leaders in what they do.
“Kim is an amazing person and player, she epitomises what a professional footballer is about and her success has shown that. She’s Arsenal through and through and it’s great to be able to work with her again and be part of something special.
“The important thing is to do it the right way, playing a good brand of football and respecting other teams. It’s important the identity of Arsenal is of a stylish brand of football in a way that it’s innovative, attractive to the eye and to bring success.”
Montemurro would not be drawn into revealing any information on whether he will sign any of the Matildas.
City signed English international Jodie Taylor from Arsenal as a guest player at the end of November, but Montemurro said the deal was done and dusted well before he arrived.
And with the appointment at the Gunners, the new boss admitted coaching his country would be another dream come true, but was focused on his new objective in England.
He added: “You always aspire to be the best you can be and to do amazing things. If the opportunity ever came about, I’d have a look at it.
“The reality is I’m at a magnificent club and I’m extremely happy. Hopefully, god willing, I can spend a lot of time here and do some amazing things here, so I’m quite happy with where I am at the moment.”