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Photo courtesy of QBFC
Josep Gombau has been named the manager of Queens' first-ever professional soccer team.

Queensboro FC, the first-ever professional soccer team to play in Queens slated to start play in 2022 in the United Soccer League (USL), announced the hiring of their head coach and sporting director, Josep Gombau, on Monday morning.

Nicknamed QBFC, the team poised to play in the United States’ second tier of soccer — just beneath Major League Soccer (MLS) — and is owned by a group headed by Spanish soccer legend, 2010 World Cup winner, and former NYCFC (MLS), Barcelona, Valencia and Atletico Madrid striker David Villa. They were originally set to begin play next year but decided to push its inaugural campaign back one season to help the area heal from the COVID-19 pandemic, fully establish its youth academy as a local talent pipeline to the senior team, and to finalize its stadium plans.

“New York is a very special place for me and my family,” Gombau said in a statement. “The city is in a unique moment right now, and I am looking forward to contributing to its renewal and revitalization through the lens of sport, community and grassroots efforts. I am committed to bringing together a diverse mix of homegrown and international players to form the first-ever professional soccer team that the borough of Queens can call its own. Our attacking style of play will undoubtedly bring global recognition and fan excitement — while helping continue to grow the game in America.”

Queens’ first pro club is getting a well-traveled manager as its leader in Gombau.

The 44-year-old has served in professional soccer across 24 years and four continents, working with some of the world’s largest teams and on its largest stages.

Rising through the Spanish soccer ranks, Gombau was hired by Barcelona — arguably one of the largest clubs on the planet — as its academy’s head coach. He helped establish FCB Escola, Barcelona’s flagship soccer school, worldwide and became a technical director for its program in Dubai.

In 2009, he headed over to Hong Kong where he became the head coach of Kitchee SC, winning a pair of league titles in four seasons. He headed to Australia in 2013 to take over Adelaide United of the A-League — the country’s top-flight league — and won an Australian Cup with the club.

During that time, he also served as the manager of the Australian national team’s U-23 side and was an assistant coach for the senior national team that went to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Gombau lived in Queens from 2015-2016 and worked as a technical director for Villa’s DV7 Soccer Academy.

“I have followed Josep’s career for a very long time, and had the opportunity to work with him to create the methodology of my DV7 Soccer Academies globally, as well as launch my very first academy in New York,” Villa said. “He is the perfect choice for Queensboro FC and I am happy to welcome him back to New York. Together, we will oversee all sporting aspects of the club, laying the groundwork for us to succeed at the highest level and be recognized all over the world. For certain, a coach of this caliber will help take soccer in this country to a new level.”

This story originally appeared on amny.com

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