Youth Teams
Youth Teams

New England MU18s head coach Ian Foster tells his story as Young Lions start new term

Ian Foster admits he's had a 'diverse coaching pathway' as he prepares to take England MU18s into the new campaign. The Merseyside-born coach had spells as a player with the likes of Hereford United, Barrow, Kidderminster Harriers and Chester before moving into coaching as he reveals more about his career to date...

Thursday 05 Sep 2019
Ian Foster will take charge of the MU18s this season after being appointed as new head coach this summer

They say, with your early coaching experiences, it can quickly go one way or the other.

For me, spending three and a half years managing Galway United and Dundalk in the League of Ireland was when I knew this was what I wanted to do.

It came out of the blue at the time, after my playing career had been cut short at the age of 29, and I saw it as a great time of learning.

I had a brilliant experience, coaching players and managing everything else that comes along with that.

It was a competitive league with some really good players out there at the time and I got to coach the players we had as well as manage in the Europa League.

I then had an opportunity to come home and become a coach at Coventry City, where I spent two and a half years working with some really good players, such as James Maddison and Callum Wilson who I now see at St. George’s Park with the senior team.

Foster will be head coach of the year group for the next three seasons from U18s to U20s

After that, I went to Portsmouth as first team coach and they were all really good experiences for me in the English league.

But when the opportunity to work with the national team came along, it was one that I couldn’t turn down. I’ve loved it ever since the first day I walked through the door back in February 2017 as a specialist coach with the U17s alongside Steve Cooper.

It’s completely different to club football and you get used to that, but it’s been great to get that tournament experience and work with some really good players who’ve now gone on to play at U21 and senior level, which is fabulous as that’s our goal as development coaches.

When Steve left for Swansea back in the summer, I was asked to go through the process of selection for this role along with some outstanding external candidates.

So I was really delighted to get the opportunity to lead the U18s this season and then going forward into the U19s and U20s with the same group over the next few years.

It’s a privilege and an honour to lead any national team, so it’s an exciting time for me personally and my family.

I feel that my time with Steve and the U17s has helped my development and stood me in good stead to become head coach.

Our philosophy is very clear and it has to be, because you’re bringing in 20-odd players from different clubs, where they play under different styles and philosophies.

You’ve got to try and capture that in the first few days of camp and make sure they get their England heads on quickly.

Working alongside Steve Cooper as a specialist coach has given me a head start with this year group

I have a head start with this group having worked with them for 12 months, but I like the idea of doing some really good work with them over the next three years.

What excites me just as much is that the U18 age group is like a Talent ID year and we want to look at as many players as possible so we know all about what we have to work with right up until the U19s.

I articulated that to the players when we arrived this week. Last year with the U17s, it was a fairly settled group of 25 players or so with a view to us being successful at the Euros.

This year is different and we want to see as many different players as we possibly can and hopefully we can do that and unearth some players who perhaps haven’t been on the England pathway so far.

We’ve got some wonderful games for the players to start with too. None of the players in this squad have played against Australia or Korea yet in their short careers and Brazil is always a lovely one to play in.

It was a tremendous match against Brazil in Telford last October

There’s a bit of history with them in this group from the last few years too. They met at U16 level, when Brazil prevented them from winning a tournament at U16 level and then last season we had a bit of revenge by beating them 3-1 at Telford.

That was a fabulous match with both teams playing really expansive, attacking football so it should be a cracking game at Hednesford when we go again and have a good battle.

It’s all great experience for the players, we have an exciting programme lined up for them over the course of the season and I just can’t wait to get started.

Does Ian's coaching story inspire you? Why not find out how to take your first steps into coaching via one of our courses... 

By Ian Foster England Men's U18s head coach at St. George's Park