During an impressive career spanning six clubs Mark Pembridge was a committed midfielder, full of endeavour. These are just two of the values that Pem now applies to his coaching work with Fulham’s Under-15s.
Having studied hard in the small amount of spare time he had during his rehabilitation from injury last season, Pembridge is now entering a new chapter in his career…
Was it a difficult decision to hang up your boots?
Ultimately it wasn’t too difficult. I tried exceptionally hard to get back to playing but there comes a time when you just need to stop. You know your own body and despite people saying that I could have carried on, I knew within myself it was time.
You must be proud of what you achieved during your career…
Looking back I am very pleased with what I did. I played for Premier League clubs, played abroad and also represented my country on 50 occasions. You can never be too sure how long your career will last and looking back I am just pleased how much I got from the game. I left with a lot of very happy memories.
It was during your rehabilitation that you first took a keen interest in the coaching side of things wasn’t it?
I was putting a lot of work into my rehab work, but I had been thinking about taking my coaching badges over the previous couple of years, so when the chance came for me to work with the Under-12s, I jumped at it. Not only was it a great way to start my coaching, but it also helped take my mind off what was a very tough time for me.
How far through the badges are you? Is it a hard process?
I have completed my A Licence, so I am at a good standard now. It wasn’t too hard. I did a lot of the work whilst I was still at the Club, and using the facilities and the players made it a lot easier for me.
How did the chance to return to Fulham come about?
The Club were aware that I was attaining my badges and when I left at the tail-end of last season I made it clear that if a position ever became vacant then I would be very interested in filling it. That situation arose the week before I was about to go on holiday and I accepted it straight away. I was very keen to get back into it as soon as possible and apply the things I had learned.
You seem to take a lot of pride in bringing the next crop of youngsters through at Fulham…
I do. I spend a lot of time with Gary [Brazil] out on the training pitch. He’s a great coach and I watch his sessions and pick up ideas and techniques that I can use with my Under-15s. It is very exciting to watch young players develop and progress whilst trying to ready them to become good players for Fulham.
Are there any particular coaches from your career who you try and emulate or take things from?
You can’t help but pick things up from coaches over the years and there will always be things that stand out from different people. I remember during my time at Everton, David Moyes looked straight away at why the side weren’t scoring enough goals. He identified that the team weren’t getting enough crosses into the box and promptly set about remedying the situation. That ability to identify and sort out problems is just one example of something I have taken from a former coach.
You are obviously still in the infancy of your coaching career, but is management something that you have given any thought to?
No, I haven’t given it any thought yet. I think you need to walk before you can run and I just want to concentrate on my coaching for now. You don’t rule out anything further down the line, but for now I am more than content with what I am doing.