Sir Trevor Brooking answers your questions for 'In The Home End'.
'In The Home End'
is a regular section within England programmes that gives fans the chance to air their views, tell their stories and put questions to some of the game's biggest names.
Here, Sir Trevor Brooking answers the questions you put to him in the Hungary programme in August. Did you enjoy playing with the great Bobby Moore - one of the best footballers of all time?
I was really lucky to actually join West Ham United as an apprentice in 1965. They had won The FA Cup the year before and then in '66 three of our players - Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters - were in the national team. The youngsters at the club learnt a lot from them all. Bobby was one of those constructive central defenders who started a lot of our play from the back. We were one of those sides who liked to pass the ball out from the back and his reading of the game was second to none.Who was your favourite midfield partner and why?
I had a few with West Ham and England, but probably in the early years it was Billy Bonds. He was an inspiration for me as my captain and was an all action player who used the ball a lot better than people would have perhaps recognised. He was a player who won us possession and I used to get a lot of early passes from him to create. The blend of the pair of us was a really strong one. He was a top class performer and we were lucky to have him for over 20 years.What is the hardest part of your role as The FA’s Director of Football Development?
I suppose it's trying to get that unified approach to the game from everyone. Naturally, the governing body has to be looking long-term and sometimes that has been a challenge. We've tried to work with the Premier and Football League, but as I know from my time as a Director at West Ham, the emphasis is often on the short-term. I think we're at that stage where everyone accepts that we need to focus on a long-term strategy and the important thing is to get all of the stakeholders pulling in the same direction. The signs are becoming more encouraging as we try to get the investment and infrastructure to produce good, young English players. We want to implement the changes, that's what we're planning for and hoping to get everyone in agreement.Who was the greatest player you played with and against?
My two captains, Bobby Moore and Billy Bonds were fantastic. From an England point of view, Kevin Keegan was fantastic and someone I had a great understanding with. You're always looking for an outlet with your passes and he was so relentless with his work rate and the timing of his runs. At club level, Bobby Charlton and Georgie Best were fantastic to play against, while at international level I caught the tail end of Beckenbauer and Pele’s career and just the start of Maradona. The best team, though, was probably the Dutch side in the ‘70s, which was very exciting. Johann Cruyff was the best I ever faced. He just had everything. You could probably play him in any position on the pitch and he'd still be the best player. He was so adaptable and that was the whole philosophy of Dutch football at the time. I am planning to take my FA Level 1 in coaching, later this year but do you think that a person can only become a first team coach / manager of a professional team if they have previous professional playing experience?
Darren Williams, Liverpool
I don't think so, there have been plenty of managers who haven't, Mourinho and Roy Hodgson for a start. The only thing that being a top player will do is initially buy you a bit of credibility but after a while if you don't know what you're talking about or do things properly then you lose that confidence and trust of the players. The biggest thing on the coaching side is the communication. If you can get your point across and your philosophy, and know how to deal and speak with your players, then you can get the best out of them at whatever level it is. As you go to a higher level, there are stronger characters to deal with, making decisions on transfers so that can sometimes be the undoing of coaches. There is a conveyer belt of stages, but by doing the coaching badges you give yourself a better chance. Which country's national youth development model should England look to learn lessons from?
It goes in cycles, a few years ago people were saying it was France with Clairfointaine, but then Spain have had a significant investment in the last decade and all of their development teams have done incredibly well. Germany have invested a lot of money over the last decade too and are starting to see the benefits of that in the Under-21s and then the World Cup, of course. You look at all the different strengths of these countries and try to tap into a lot of the expertise and knowledge that we have in our country. That's something now that we need to do because I think there are a lot talented people working in our youth structure. How does it differ as a player on the pitch to now working behind the scenes? Do you miss playing?
I don't think there's anything that quite matches the playing side. You have control of what you do and you're in a team structure but also know that if you play well individually you can make an impact to help your team. That's the ultimate feeling, there's nothing better. Behind the scenes, though, there are occasions when a coach can make decisions which affect the game and that's something that coaches and managers learn as they go along, a bit like playing really. From my point of view, the biggest incentive is to make sure we're competing with all of our development teams and having that depth of talent.You played in the 1982 World Cup in Spain, but only for about 25 minutes. Do you look back on that with fond memories or is it tinged with regret that you didn’t get more chance on the World stage?
It's tinged with regret, because towards the end of that season I thought I was in really good form. I was full of belief and confidence and I really felt I was going to have a good tournament. We beat Finland 4-1, but seven or eight minutes before the end, I tweaked my groin. We had a couple of days off before we flew out to Spain, but the problem was still there. I'd had a couple of similar injuries before and had always had a cortisone injection at West Ham, which usually worked. The England team doctor at the time did it, but it didn't work and I eventually had another one out there and managed to get on the bench for the last game, coming on as a sub for the last half-hour. That was annoying and frustrating for me for several reasons, because I thought we had a chance to do well in that competition and we should have got to the Final. It was a big disappointment.You made your England debut under Sir Alf Ramsey, but missed playing alongside Bobby Moore for England by just one game. What can you remember about the team at that time and your feelings on making your debut?
It was three or four months earlier when we'd drawn at home to Poland, when we had over 30 shots on goal and Tomaszewski had the game of his life. It was a huge frustration to miss out on the World Cup, so Alf was getting a lot of stick and when it came around to the next game, he looked at one or two of the younger players which included me. So I made my debut in Lisbon against Portugal and we drew 0-0. Martin Peters was the captain and Phil Parkes, one of the best 'keepers I had ever played with, also featured on his debut. We played the home internationals under Joe Mercer as caretaker manager, then Argentina with a young Maradona, and went for three matches in eastern Europe. Alf gave me my debut, but because of failing to qualify, he suffered and it was a shame after winning it in '66.It was a disappointing summer for the England fans, but what is your summary of how things went in South Africa?
South Africa was frustrating as well as disappointing because I don't think the players in the squad performed at the level we were expecting. We all thought that European countries would do well because of the winter season over there and out of the 13 European countries, everyone thought us, Germany, Spain and Holland would be favourites. But we were the only ones out of that quartet that didn't qualify for the quarter-finals. People talk about whether the ball crossed the line against Germany, and psychologically that would have made a difference to the two teams, but we didn't play well enough in the second-half. We qualified well, but our tournament performance was poor. We have to hold our hands up and say we didn't deliver and the harsh reality is that our performances weren't good enough. The main thing now is to try and qualify for the European Championship in two years time.With the U21s and U19s reaching European Finals last year, the U17s winning in May and again the U19s doing well this year, there seems to be hope for the future of England, but how can we keep this going as a nation and also start winning things more regularly?
I think the U17s were a group that we earmarked a year ago that had real ability and strength in depth. They could also pass the ball well, which is what you need in international football. To go through the season and beat France in the semi-final and then Spain in the Final, was very impressive. The U19s reached last year's Final and three or four of that team played again this year. The next aim is for these players to step up to the Under-21s and then onto the seniors. The big thing, though, is where these age groups go on to play their football until they get to 21. Even though the U19s have done well, not many have been able to break into first-team football. The U17s are still a few years younger but we hope there is enough ability there to gain first-team opportunities in the next two years. You’re a legend at Upton Park and have had a stand named after you, but what was it like managing the Hammers?
It was fascinating, because I'd kept out of it for so long because my family were never keen on me doing it. As a director of the club, we had a freakish situation when Glenn Roeder collapsed and one or two senior players wanted someone internal, so I took over and it was only for two and half weeks. We played against Manchester City, where Kevin Keegan was manager, funnily enough. Then we were at home to Chelsea and the last game was away to Birmingham. We were third from bottom at the time, and unfortunately we just couldn't get out of trouble. It was a great two and a half weeks to look back on and when I came to The FA some of those experiences were a great benefit to me. The second time was in the Championship, when Glenn was sacked. I had a call after an EGM and they asked me to do it again. I was a lot more uncomfortable as they'd sacked someone that I knew quite well and I hadn't been involved in the decision. I did take it on, but it set an alarm bell ringing in my mind. A couple of months after that The FA approached me and because of that nagging concern, I moved soon after. This interview came from the England v Hungary official match programme in August. To get your copy of the programme, click here, or to subscribe to ensure you always get your programme delivered to your door, click here.
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