A studious and ambitious character, he studied for a PhD in Sports Science and his
coaching licences while still playing. A long playing career making over 750 League appearances for the likes of Bristol City, Swindon, Sheffield United and Chesterfield was followed by spells on the coaching staff at Chester, Bury, Tranmere and Bradford. Then earlier this year, the man they call ‘The Chief’ was appointed The FA’s Research Manager for Coaching.
Wayne, what does the role of FA Research Manager for Coaching actually entail?
It’s varied and I think that’s what I like about it. My role includes investigation and research into The FA coaching strategy, which looks at developing a world-class coaching system. We’re looking at how to improve it and make it better. If we have better coaches, then
hopefully we’ll have better players.
More after the break
Your appointment coincided with the recent opening of St. George’s Park, The FA’s national football centre, in Burton upon Trent. How is the centre going to improve the quality of English coaching?
It’s a tremendous facility for developing football coaches at all levels of the game – from professional coaches to grassroots coaches. All The FA’s National Coaching Courses will be held at the centre with access to the best pitches and the best sports science facilities. As a coach development centre we want to produce world-class coaches for the future.
Your list of qualifications is impressive (UEFA Pro-Licence, UEFA A and B Licences, PHD in Sports Science). You could have followed a career in coaching, management, sports science or academia, so how did this role come about?
I wanted to be employable – that was where the academic qualifications came into play and I studied for my PHD while I was still playing as well as doing my coaching badges. I wanted to ensure that when I finished playing I could have a pathway into academia,
sports science or coaching. The research job is an amalgamation of the experiences I have collected.
What was it like trying to complete your studies while you were still playing?
It’s one of my biggest achievements. It was an escape [after training] and it
challenged me to develop a different mindset and to use different skills. It allowed me to compartmentalise things: focusing on football when I was there and then academia afterwards.
Aged 35, you signed for Chesterfield in 2004, going on to play well into your late thirties. What was the secret of your longevity?
It was how I was managed. Roy McFarland (Chesterfield manager from 2003 to 2007) was brilliant with me – he gave me responsibility. He knew if I wanted to carry on playing I would look after myself in the correct manner, and I responded to that. We had a good working relationship and I would ensure I was ready and fit for the weekend, if selected.
You played for a number of different managers in your 22-year career. Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Neil Warnock [manager at Sheffield United] was excellent. He was great at creating an atmosphere and an environment that everybody wanted to play in. Everyone always says players want to play for Neil Warnock and it’s no fluke: it’s a skill and an art that he’s perfected. He could make you feel a million dollars even when he was dropping
To learn more about The FA’s coaching courses and St. George’s Park visit www.thefa.com/sgp