“I suffer disappointment, I reflect, but I don’t dwell. I can compartmentalise things quickly. I did that as a footballer and my character or personality didn’t change because of what went on in Spain. It was a very important experience for me.”
Gary was asked to take charge of Spanish giants Valencia in December 2015 by his friend and business partner, Peter Lim.
The task was vast as he took over a faltering team mid-season, where there was dressing room unrest. He knew all about the problems because brother Phil was a coach there.
It was just like Gary to relish the opportunity and he jumped in at the deep end. He moved his wife and two daughters to Spain. He took Spanish lessons four times a week and walked to a restaurant near the towering Mestalla stadium after home games, mixing with fans and panicking security who thought their ‘Mister’ needed protection.
“People think that I must regret the decision to take the job but I don’t,” says Gary of a five-month spell in Spain’s third biggest city. “I knew it was going to be difficult: a different country, a different culture and time away from my family. But I did not want to shirk a challenge – that’s not in my nature.”
Gary’s side reached the Copa del Rey semi-finals, but there were not enough league wins and he was dismissed after 28 games with a record of ten wins, seven draws and 11 defeats. Since then Gary has not been tempted back into management.