Phil Neville could have been excused for showing signs of tiredness. At the end of a Premier League campaign in which the 35-year-old registered 32 appearances, Everton’s captain may have preferred a sun-lounger to a further twelve days on the training ground as part of the UEFA A Licence course.
However, there were no signs of fatigue, only trademark enthusiasm, as the former England international completed part-one of the coaching course at Wokefield Park, Berkshire, earlier this month.
“It’s been a fantastic experience and I’ve learned a lot,” enthused the former Manchester United man, who was in attendance with 32 other current and former professionals, including ex-England teammate, David James.
Neville demonstrated all the professionalism that has defined his 18-year career, partaking in almost every practical session. The coaching bug has clearly caught hold.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that this [coaching] is something I want to do when I’ve finished my career,” explained Neville.
“I’m fascinated by all aspects of it. I’ve always been the type, throughout my career, to ask a lot of questions and be interested in the finer details. I think that’s what coaching is all about: the detail when getting your coaching point across to the players."
The content of the UEFA A Licence course, which includes practical and theory elements, an insight into different styles of play as well as peer reviewed practices, is specifically designed to meet the demands of the English game, equipping prospective coaches’ with the technical knowledge for a career in professional coaching.
“It is an intense course, but I think if you go through the English FA A Licence course I think it does come with a certain credibility,” explained Neville.
“That’s because of the experienced staff and the fact that it is not easy. You have to earn the certificate, it doesn’t matter what you’ve achieved in the game."
Although Neville penned a one-year extension at Goodison Park in August 2011, keeping him with the Toffees until 2013, his thoughts have the future in mind. Any transition to the touchline will not come without due preparation.
“I think when I joined Everton, and you get to the age of thirty, you think to yourself: ‘what am I doing to do when I finish.
“Coaching is something I’ve always enjoyed. I did my UEFA B Licence and loved it; I got the bug. I set my stall out that over the next five years I would plan and prepare to become a coach. I started making notes for different scenarios, and not just for coaching but for travel, discipline and other things."
In February the Bury born midfielder had the opportunity to further his experience assisting the England Under-21 squad in preparation for the UEFA Euro 2013 qualifier against Belgium.
“The three days I had with Brian Eastick [England Head Coach in the absence of Stuart Pearce] and John Peacock [FA Head of Coaching] were invaluable. They totally opened the doors to everything: the administration, the security, the coaching and the video analysis.”
A passion for coaching is something running in the family, with brother, Gary, also gaining vital coaching experience in the England set-up following his appointment to Roy Hodgson’s coaching team. The two brothers often discuss the finer details of the game.
“We do talk football a lot, we always have done. Even when we were playing we used to study wingers together: [particularly] movements of players. We’ve always been a little bit like that,” explained the younger of the siblings who, playing alongside his brother, registered over 300 appearances for Manchester United.
“Gary will be a fantastic coach and I’m sure one day he will be a fantastic manager: he’s got that aura about him, and the knowledge, and I think he’ll have the respect of the players,” he added.
With both their coaching careers beginning to build momentum, it’s not hard to imagine the two Neville’s having the excuse to talk coaching for some years’ to come.
The full interview with Phil Neville will feature in the August edition of The Boot Room, The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club magazine. To join The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club visit www.TheFA.com/falcc.
To enrol on the next UEFA A Licence course, and to learn about other opportunities to join The FA Coaching pathway visit www.TheFA.com/falearning