David Martindale hopes his journey from organised crime to manager of a Scottish Premiership club can inspire others that it is possible to turn their lives around.
Martindale has been appointed Livingston boss after leading the club to four consecutive victories and the Betfred Cup semi-finals during a caretaker spell.
The 46-year-old was jailed for six-and-a-half years in 2006 after admitting charges relating to cocaine dealing and money laundering but had already begun rebuilding his life.
After graduating from university and a spell as assistant manager of Broxburn Athletic in the Scottish Juniors set-up, Martindale joined the Livi coaching staff in 2014.
He worked under the likes of John McGlynn and Mark Burchill before acting as assistant to David Hopkin and then Kenny Miller and Gary Holt, who stepped down late last month.
Martindale also played a key role in the club’s recruitment efforts and became head of football operations during the summer.
He turned down the opportunity to become manager two-and-a-half years ago but now believes the time is right for him to step up after being handed the job until the end of the season.
Martindale said: “My journey started in 2004 when I got arrested. Since that day I have been looking to change my life. It’s been difficult but all the hard work has been worth it.
“Education was the only way I saw my life progressing. In 2004 I enrolled at Heriot-Watt University and I was there for two years before I went to prison. Heriot-Watt allowed me to continue my studies when I got released.
“I found education was the big stimulus for me and the way to integrate myself back into society.
“Professional football wasn’t on my agenda at that point but I knew if I could get my degree I could integrate myself back into society. I just didn’t think it would be at such an elite level of football.
“It has been pretty incredible but it’s a hard-working bunch of staff who have been at the club over the past six or seven years and it’s testament to them and myself and players, directors, past and present, where this club is just now.
“It’s a proud moment but I have got a lot of people to thank that have been at the club over the years.
“I have worked really hard but I’ve been very, very lucky that the people who have been at the club, past directors, present directors, have been open-minded enough to give me an opportunity.
“The club means a lot to me – it has given me the opportunity to change my life and my family’s life as well.
“I do think society is changing, it is a lot more open-minded now. There may be clubs out there that wouldn’t have taken the chance on me but I can only really comment on the positivity I have received from Livingston.
“In my journey, it’s maybe something that has always been classed as a negative. I have never been approached about the positive side of it.
“Hopefully people reading and listening to me see that there are employers out there who will take a chance on people.”
Livingston believe the Scottish Football Association’s stated commitment to diversity and inclusion means the governing body should have no problem with the appointment.
Chief executive John Ward said in a statement: “Livingston FC has always believed in the principles of constructive and effective rehabilitation, and we welcome the Scottish FA’s commitment last week to equality, fairness, justice, inclusion and the removal of barriers in the game.
“This allows David and others to participate in football at all levels and ensure that no individual is discriminated against.
“We join with the SFA in our dedication and commitment to inclusive football for all under-represented groups in our communities.”
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