Ituano president Juninho: Things are starting to happen for us
Middlesbrough legend Juninho has spoken of the changes at Ituano since he took over as president.
The 40-year-old returned to the club where it all started in an unorthodox role of player-president in 2010.
After scoring the goal to save Ituano from relegation on the final day of the season, Juninho retired from playing but continued in his presiding role.
He told Fifa.com: "The idea of being a coach or administrator at a big club, once my playing days were over, would’ve forced me to stay in a routine of constant travelling, which is something I really didn’t want.
"So I thought it’d be best to go to work at a smaller club, where I could set things up my way.
"I found the club was essentially in the same situation it had been 20 years ago, when I’d first played there: without suitable training pitches and without a clearly defined project in place.
"Now though, the situation we’re in is much more acceptable. We’ve got three pitches and a set-up at the [Estadio] Novelli Junior that’s already been visited by three national sides as a possible  World Cup training base, and they all seemed to like it.
"When I started here, the youth teams had been disbanded. Now we’ve got teams at every age level. Things are now starting to happen for us."
The Brazilian club, who play in the Campeonato Paulista, recently formed an official partnership with Juninho’s former club Boro.
The Little Fella, as he is known in Teesside, added: "It’s a relationship that’s been on the go for some time now, while we’ve gone about restructuring our youth ranks.
"For Middlesbrough too, it’s not easy to simply go out and buy a player who's already the finished article.
"It’s a partnership that doesn’t involve fixed costs: they will only release funds if they’re interested in a player. And it goes the other way too: they can send lads over from England for a stay in Brazil."
Juninho is considered one of the Championship club’s finest ever players, after reaching two major finals and winning the 2004 Carling Cup during three different spells in the North East.
He is expected to travel to the Riverside Stadium at the end of the season to put pen to paper on the official partnership.