My role is to ensure that the quality of players who progress to the Youth Development Phase of the Academy display the highest levels of CLASS as possible. CLASS stands for Character, Learned Understanding, Ability, Speed and Success, and is the Club’s way of monitoring and developing talent. We believe that a Fulham player should look to embody high levels of these characteristics whilst always looking to play in the ‘Fulham Way.’ To do this we focus our attentions on the individual’s strengths and areas to work on, and look to constantly develop these through a multi-disciplinary approach to his training and personal development. Developing the person in the player is very important in the Foundation Phase, and we look to encourage strong, positive off-field characteristics in all players. We develop these through emphasising the five Ps at all times. They stand for Professional, Pride, Purpose, Personality and Persistence, and we positively reinforce these in our players at every opportunity.
I started as a youth player in my home city of Sheffield playing for Sheffield Wednesday, before moving on to Chesterfield. I then went to study Sport and Exercise Science at Liverpool John Moores University before starting my coaching career in the United States, coaching soccer camps at Universities across America. Upon returning to the UK I qualified as a PE teacher and have taught at schools in London and Chile, South America, most recently spending five years as the Head of Football at Dulwich College. My academy coaching career started at Watford FC in 2007 working under current Glasgow Rangers Manager Mark Warburton and Manchester United Academy Operations Manager Nick Cox, before moving to Fulham in 2010 as a part-time Academy Coach, becoming full-time in January 2016. As well as being a UEFA ‘A’ Licenced Coach I have completed the Advanced Youth Award (A licence for Youth Coaches) at St George’s Park.
The first side I coached was the 1999/00 age group. This was a team that included 10 boys who signed scholarships in the summer of 2016, including Ryan Sessegnon who became the youngest EFL goal scorer. To see his progress into the First Team and to watch the progress of other players in that age group who have been in the Academy for a long time is very pleasing. As the lead coach of the Under 11-12s it makes it very special when you see players in the First Team setup who have progressed from the Foundation Phase of the Academy. The individualised coaching programme that we offer to our players is our strength and one that I believe in.