The England boss offered advice to members of the Oxford Union
by Glenn Lavery
“You should never be afraid of dreaming.”
That was Roy Hodgson’s advice to members of the Oxford Union on Tuesday as he became the latest in a long line of distinguished figures to address the famous student society.
Albert Einstein, Richard Nixon and Mother Teresa are among the esteemed names to have visited the Union’s Chamber in the past and the England boss used this historic platform to offer his words of wisdom.
Hodgson said: “There is a great quote from Henry Kissinger, which I became aware of from reading [Joseph] Heller’s 'Good As Gold'. He said ‘Every great achievement was a dream before it became a reality’."
After summarising his 36-year coaching career and how he was appointed England Manager, Hodgson provided the Oxford academics with some of his management techniques, concluding matters with the above Kissinger quote.
‘Selling yourself and your ideas’ was his first tip. Having energy and enthusiasm, creating the right environment and maintaining an air of positivity were also high on the list.
The England Manager then talked about taking responsibility, putting events in perspective, the importance of attention to detail and putting himself in his players’ shoes.
Clearly, most of Hodgson’s guidance related to football but the 65-year-old believes his techniques can be transferred into many fields of management and he later advised the students to be prepared to fail.
He added: “You have to accept that failure isn’t impossible. In football we are branded either as ‘winners’ or ‘losers’, but I think you are only a failure when you start to blame someone else for your failings.”
Hodgson only began to proactively formulate his leadership and management techniques when he was asked to speak to a business audience in Sweden in the early 1980s.
They have since continued to develop throughout his career and have helped him take on English football’s most coveted job.
Hodgson said of his appointment: “The phone call came through from the West Brom chairman [Jeremy Peace] telling me The FA wanted to speak to me.
“I thought it was all part of the interview process and he said ‘No, I think they want to see if you’d like the job’. All of a sudden, I’d gone from being manager of West Brom on the Sunday to shaking hands with The FA Chairman David Bernstein on the Monday.”
Hodgson took charge of England, his fourth national team job, for Euro 2012 and says plans are already afoot for the World Cup in Brazil.
He explained: “After the Euros, we [the coaching staff] immediately started planning for the next two years – trying to strike that balance between the need to win important qualifying matches as well as making preparations for the tournament itself, and hopefully we will get to Brazil.”
Tailoring his whole talk to the hundreds of learned, ambitious young people in attendance, Hodgson wrapped up proceedings by offering one final piece of advice.
He said: “After this fantastic education at Oxford, many of you will find yourselves in management positions.
“I have always been an energetic, enthusiastic person – and the message I want to leave you with is that while I have got some of my career left, yours are still in front of you.
“So don’t be afraid to dream. Don’t ever be afraid to reach too far.”