FRISCO, Texas – A preseason ACL injury has kept well-traveled European league veteran Peter Luccin from making a single appearance on the field for FC Dallas since the club signed him last December. And yet the 34-year-old Frenchman may have had as much to do with FCD's rise to the top of the standings as anyone who has stepped onto the pitch.
Luccin has been tasked by head coach Schellas Hyndman with taking a leadership role in the locker room while balancing his rehab. And the former Atlético Madrid man has accepted the assignment and excelled.
“He’s very positive,” said Hyndman. “Players do come to him and ask his advice. They have a great deal of respect for him and what he’s done. He’s got a world of experience, he’s not shy, he’ll share his ideas. When we do midfield breakdowns and we show video clips for our midfield … he makes comments as well."
Luccin laments not being on the field with his teammates, but is happy about playing a vital role for the team during his recovery.
“I feel like I could be helping and contributing to the team even more if I was on the field,” he said through an interpreter. “But, in talking to coach and understanding the role I can play, I’m happy to help off the field inside the locker room.”
Fellow newcomer Michel, a career left back, admitted he often looks to Luccin for specific advice on playing the defensive midfield role he’s been asked to step into this season.
“He tells me [how] to position the ball from the back ... and make a turn into the different parts of the midfield," the Brazilian explained through an interpreter. "He shows me how to cover the space if someone in the midfield moves and how to distribute [the ball] to the forwards."
The younger players on the team view Luccin as a mentor, as they respect the long career he’s had in Europe with teams such as Marseille, Paris Saint-Germain and Atlético Madrid. Twenty-year-old Fabián Castillo said that they are very lucky to have someone with Luccin’s skill and experience in the locker room, as that reinforces what the coaches teach on the training field.
“Sometimes when the coach is delivering the message, it is urgent that he brings it to your attention, whereas a player does it at different times, different occasions,” Castillo said through an interpreter. “It is easier to listen to a player in a more relaxed mode than when the coach is delivering the message to the group or individual players.”
Hyndman and each of the players MLSsoccer.com spoke with said that they thought Luccin would be able to make a smooth transition into a coaching career when he retires from playing. But that day is not close at hand, according to Luccin.
“At some point, [coaching] is something that I could consider," he said. "But right now it’s not something that I’ve given any thought. I see myself as a player still for a number of years to come.
"My work is towards…getting healthy to jump on the field and have a contribution to the team and be part of the team playing on the field before this season is over. The season still has a long way to go and I am working towards getting on the field this season.”