As Academy Goalkeeping Coach I look after the scholar keepers from the Under-17s to the Under-19s, depending on how many we have in each year group. We then look at the technical, tactical, physical and social aspects of the game, although it’s mainly technical work out on the grass to improve their technical ability. I also look at potential signings that have been recommended by the talent department so if someone recommends a goalkeeper they’ll come in and I’ll take a look at them.
I started out as a schoolboy at Gillingham. Unfortunately after a year and a half there I broke my scaphoid and ended up having three operations on it which really did set me back. So I realised I wasn’t going to make it at pro level so I drifted into the non-League and spent time with several clubs. That was really when I got into the coaching side of things because quite often, at those sorts of clubs, they never really had a goalkeeping coach so myself and maybe one or two other goalkeepers would organise what we did ourselves. I got back into league football when Steve Coppell hired me as goalkeeping coach at Crystal Palace and I was there for 10 years and then did six months at Crawley as Assistant Manager before Chris Coleman called me up and asked me to join Fulham.
Some of the highlights are obviously when the really young kids come through and sign their scholarship because it means you’re judgement has been backed. At First Team level I thoroughly enjoyed my time under Chris Coleman when I worked with keepers such as Edwin van der Sar, Mark Crossley and Dave Beasant. Also, you have to say, that day at Portsmouth when we stayed up as it was great for the Club to secure our Premier League status. To see how the Club has grown, not only the football side but the support staff, the environment, the training ground. In the years I’ve been here it’s certainly a club that’s cutting edge and is moving with the times.
I think the Academy has changed since I came here. Now, full credit to the Chairman and the CEO, they’ve given us a brief to try and get the best young players in Europe. As a Club I think that’s the way forward – bring young players in, show them the Fulham way and, in addition to our home-grown players, it makes for a very exciting time for the Academy.