Dino Maamria From Tent to Football League Manager
Stevenage manager Nourredine “Dino” Maamria is currently the only African managing professionally in the football league. His remarkable journey into football management started when he was born in a tent in a small South Tunisia town called Gafsa, before he was spotted by a holidaying Burnley scout who offered him a trial at Turf Moor.
Maamria, started his career with AS Marsa in his native Tunisia making his first-team debut in 1992, he spent two years with the club which included winning the Tunisian President Cup Final. Whilst playing for AS Marsa in an away match at Étoile Sportive du Sahel, a tourist resort in the north of Tunisia he was watched by Burnley’s chief scout at the time Brian Miller who happened to be on holiday.
Miller offered him a two-week trial at Turf Moor and after scoring in a reserve fixture against Bradford City. Maamria was offered a short-term deal with the Clarets. Although he failed to make a first-team appearance for the club after suffering a long-term injury he was released by the club in 1996. He then signed for Glentoran after Burnley caretaker manager Clive Middlemass had recommended him to former Claret and then Glentoran managar Tommy Cassidy.
After spending the next fourteen years playing in the lower leagues of english football with teams such as Doncaster Rovers, Rushden & Diamonds, Northwich Victoria before having three spells with both Southport, Stevenage were he finished playing career in 2012 before continuing his coaching and management career in the game.
Once again it was Burnley Football Club that gave Maamria his first experience coaching in the summer of 1997, where he worked as an academy coach to help the club produce and develop youngsters within the club system. One of the players he helped develop was Jay Rodriguez during his time at the club, where he also gained his UEFA licences.
Having already gained some experience as a caretaker manager of Northwich Victoria whilst still playing, he added to that experience with three assistant management roles with Graham Westley at Stevenage, Preston North End and Newport County. The chance to become a manager in his own right came in 2015 with Southport before further roles with Nuneaton Town and now with Stevenage Football Club.
Speaking about his management career Nourredine Maamria said, “It takes a brave chairman to employ an African, I think it was because I was a player and a coach here before so the chairman knows me and trusts me.
It’s difficult because there are so many English and Europeans around who are qualified, Africans are different, my weakness is that I’m a foreigner in a different country so I’ve got to be excellent at what I do to get noticed. We have to survive in Africa and to survive we don’t stand still. I tell my players, every lion wakes up in the morning and he is going to be looking for the next meal. Every gazelle wakes up that morning thinking how am I going to escape the lion.
The best coaches in the world, they say are Spanish, Germans, Portuguese and some English the trend goes that way. Clubs in our leagues or leagues above us are looking for Spanish or Portuguese. They’re not better than us (Africans), it’s because the trend is to go that way. Unfortunately no African coaches have come to English football and done well. Because that market hasn’t been tried and trusted, there’s a reluctance from chairmen to give jobs to Africans. But it’s my opportunity now and hopefully I’ll do well and many more African’s will be in English football.”