"I don't want to die looking pretty. I want to score goals." As a declaration of footballing philosophy, the wording is explicit. Colin Bell openly professes admiration for the possession-based combination play practised by FC Bayern München, FC Barcelona or the national teams of Germany and Spain. He encourages his players to study footage of the four teams and challenges them to match the men. "I ask them what kind of passes they cannot make but the men can. Most of the time, they agree that there are none." Bell, at the same time, abhors sterile possession play. "You need purpose," he insists. "I want to score and Frankfurt's style is influenced by a strong desire to score goals. The game is about a battle with a lot of passion, a lot of running, a lot of work ... but, ultimately, it's about goals. People want to see goals. That's what brings them to the stadium."
Anybody who had followed 1. FFC Frankfurt along the road to Berlin would have seen 42 of them: two conceded during the opening match in Kazakhstan; and 40 rammed into the nets of opponents. En route to the title, the German club posted eight wins, one draw and 229 goal attempts. Of the 11 open-play goals short-listed as the best of the knockout rounds, seven were scored by Frankfurt.
In Berlin, Colin Bell became the first English coach to win the UEFA Champions League (for men or women) – an honour he described as "unbelievable" and "a dream". But it was undoubtedly an Anglo-German success. The final in Berlin came almost 33 years after Bell had left his local club, Leicester City FC to join VfL Hamm and start a new life in Germany, where he acquired his diplomas and spent his coaching career in its entirety. Starting at TuS Koblenz in 1989, he stepped into the women's Bundesliga 22 years later, as head coach of SC 07 Bad Neuenahr. Bell took over at Frankfurt in 2013.
His coaching influences have been diverse – starting with Jock Wallace, the dour Scot who was his boss at Leicester City and whose curriculum included a spell with Sevilla FC in Spain. In Germany, he cites Horst-Dieter Strich, the "a hard coach and great technician" who was his boss while he was playing in Mainz. And then, while he was earning his spurs as assistant coach at 1. FC Köln, Lorenz-Günther Köstner, "great man, top manager and one of the most under-rated coaches in Germany". Having coincided with Jürgen Klopp at Mainz, he also learned "tactical subtleties" from his spell alongside Uwe Rapolder at Mannheim.
The result has been a belief in "dominating through possession and playing a very good passing game – something which I believe can be further developed in women's football. You have to bring a lot of movement into the game, use spaces efficiently and know when and where to focus on making safe passes". In Berlin, he and his opposite number, Farid Benstiti, patrolled the technical areas with aplomb, the latter maybe signalling more areas for improvement and making shrewd changes which allowed Paris Saint-Germain to face Frankfurt on an equal footing during the second half. Bell detected lesser needs for changes. "We kept the game tight," he commented afterwards, "we made good use of our extra player in midfield; we were lively up front; and we made sure Paris were unable to dominate. We cut off the supply to [Marie-Laure] Delie and closed down very early on other dangerous players, like [Fatmire] Alushi and [Shirley] Cruz. We were tactically very strong; we ran our hearts out; and the attitude was just fantastic."