I still remember it now, my first day at Tottenham Hotspur and working with Chris Ramsey in the academy.
That was the key moment for me, when I knew that coaching was the path I wanted to go down.
I’d always been interested in coaching, right back to when I was 17-years-old. An apprentice at QPR I started an U10s grassroots team in my local area of Edmonton, north London.
- Role: England Men's U15s head coach
- Born: Hackney, 26/02/82
- Clubs: QPR, Hayes, Crewe Alexandra, Rotherham United, Yeovil Town, Millwall, Rushden & Diamonds, Aldershot, Hayes & Yeading, Boreham Wood
- Coaching: Tottenham Hotspur Academy (2009-2018)
We started that team from scratch after putting an advert in the local paper for people who wanted to join. It was a mixed team in terms of ability, but they stayed together for four or five years after that.
It was a really good time and it gave me my first grounding in coaching young players and I just retained an interest from there.
A few years later after I’d left QPR and had been playing in non-League with Hayes, I signed for Crewe Alexandra, a club who has a reputation for developing young players.
We were in the Championship at the time, but looking back at it now, everything was run in a development type of way and I remember my first training session was taken by Steve Holland, who is now the England assistant coach.
I was only 21 myself and there were only a couple of players older than me in the squad but the methods that were applied there, I used in my career when I started coaching so I’ve always had that development mind and wanted to help young players fulfill their potential.
Now, I’m very excited to be taking on the role as head coach for England U15s.
It’s a new challenge and one that I’m ready for. Over the last nine years with Spurs, I’ve been fortunate to work with some very talented players and now I’m looking forward to coaching the best from across the country and learning more from the staff.
I’ve been very lucky to work at Tottenham under some great staff, people such as John McDermott and Chris Ramsey and they’ve all helped me on my coaching journey so far.
Going back to that first day with Chris, he made it clear that it’s about developing an individual who can play within a team. What happens in a match in terms of results wasn’t necessarily the key or what we were looking for.
He wanted Tottenham to produce the best young players who could play in a certain style and felt if we played with that style and developed young players, the result would be winning games.
We always played an attacking game and tried to out-score the opponents, so as a coach there was no pressure to go and win the games – it was all about producing young players.
As a coach, I’m very passionate and enthusiastic and I like to build good relationships with the players so that they want to listen, learn and understand.
I'd like to play an attacking style of football and give the players freedom to make their own decisions. As a coach, you have to be flexible and adapt to the type of players that you work with.
The style with which we played at Tottenham mirrors some of the England DNA too, so I’d like to think there’s some crossover there.
At Tottenham, I worked with players at U12, U14, U16 and then U23 level, so I experienced the different stages of the developmental cycle and a number of those players have gone on to represent the national team in a variety of age groups.
My first trip with the U15s comes later this month, when I’m joining the staff and squad for a trip to Italy. It’ll just be in an observational capacity, seeing how Kevin Betsy and Tom Curtis and the other staff on the trip work together and with the players.
And then, I just can’t wait to hopefully continue the good work that’s been already been done.