by Peter Glynn
Gary Neville admits he does not ‘have the right’ to become a good coach just because he enjoyed a decorated playing career.
England’s most capped right-back, who won 16 major honours during a glittering 20-year career at Old Trafford, stressed that success on the pitch doesn’t always guarantee glory off it.
Speaking in the build-up to The FA and McDonald’s Community Awards which were announced on Friday, Neville recognised the coaches, volunteers and clubs who dedicate their time to the grassroots game.
He said: “You need to become as qualified as possible. Becoming a good football player doesn’t give you the right to become a good coach. We have to educate ourselves and start over again.”
The England coach believes there has sometimes been an ignorance to coaching qualifications over the last 20 years.
But he was also quick to recognise the importance of those who gave up their time to make his own grassroots experience a positive one.
He said: “I always say I owe my career to those people, because as a young person you follow, you listen and you learn and if the information passed to you is incorrect you’ll start picking the wrong habits up.
“I was very fortunate that I had people willing to give up their time and effort for me.”
Neville, 37, was speaking at St.George’s Park, The FA’s new national football centre, which officially opened on Tuesday 9 October.
He and and former Manchester United youth team coach Eric Harrison delivered a coaching session for local school children on one of the 12 pitches at the new complex.
Much of the focus around the new £100m complex in Burton-Upon-Trent has been on the potential benefit at the highest level of the game, but Neville warned against forgetting those involved at grassroots.
He added: “There’s no way The FA would have built a facility of this size, scale and quality just for the elite.
"It’s important that the grassroots element of the game grows up organically towards the top. We want more English players.
"We thrive for more English players playing in the Premier League and in all the leagues around Europe.
“Starting at the bottom isn’t just the young kids who are playing football, it’s the people who are coaching the kids.
“You can’t just start at the top and say we want an 18-year-old who is going to play for England tomorrow - it starts at the bottom and beyond that with the people who educate the coaches and that’s the biggest opportunity for me.
“Opportunity is the big word for St.George’s Park and it’s an opportunity not to be missed.”
St.George’s Park, The FA’s new National Football Centre, was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Visit www.thefa.com/sgp for all the latest on the new centre.