Costa Rica's Pinto arrives after 30-year journey

Jorge Luis Pinto.

SAN JOSE- When Jorge Luis Pinto takes his place in the Costa Rica dugout in Brazil in June, the Colombian coach will complete a wandering 30-year journey to the game's summit that has not been without its scrapes along the way.

His life's work has taken him around the block in South America, coaching at many clubs, sometimes going back more than once and he has even coached Costa Rica before, although he is not Costa Rican.

In his second stint in charge, after being fired following a spell in 2004-05, Pinto will rely on a clutch of European-based players and a philosophy of organised efficiency from three decades of coaching in central and South America.

However, his career has been dogged by controversy and the 61-year-old is not known as the "Explosive One" without good reason.

His temper has got him into trouble more than once. 

Although he never played the game professionally he studied physical education in Colombia and then in Brazil where he got to know former Brazilian World Cup winning coach Carlos Alberto Parreira and he started coaching himself 30 years ago.

Although he has many club titles to his name he has picked up almost as many red cards.

In 2006, when he was coach of Deportivo Cucuta, he got a six-match touchline ban after brawling with opposite number Julio Comesana of Real Cartagena during a match.

One of his biggest fights was in 2009, in another stint with Cucuta when he was given a 10-match stadium ban in Colombia for pushing, insulting and threatening the fourth official during a league match against Envigado.

Last year, when he heard a member of the public criticising his Costa Rica team as being "inconsistent", he rang up the radio station concerned, was put on air and called the fan "ignorant" and "mediocre" and told him to learn Spanish.

He also described Mexican journalists as "clowns disguised as journalists" during a pre-match press conference.

In typically pugnacious style he summed UP his arrival at the World Cup in fighting talk. "I have fought all my life to go to a World Cup and what I have achieved today is the fight of my life," Pinto said on his website after Costa Rica qualified for the finals.


Pinto, who has won league titles in Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Venezuela, will need all his experience to guide the Ticos out of a tricky group that includes former world champions Uruguay, Italy and England.

A key part of that will be relying on European-based players like Arsenal's Joel Campbell and Fulham's Bryan Ruiz, currently on-loan to Olympiakos Piraeus and PSV Eindhoven respectively. "I like my football teams to pressure the opponent with the ball on the floor, aggressive, balanced in every way, tactically and good judgment with the ball," Pinto said.

Costa Rica start their Group D campaign against Uruguay on June 14 and then face Italy on June 20 followed by England four days later.

Anything can happen on the pitch of course but one thing is certain off it: Pinto will not be sitting back and admiring the view.