I always like to do story with a few rules. The idea for this is a World Tour starting as a manager with no experience and no coaching qualification. The rules for the tour are that I must start in Oceania and work in each continent for 8 years at a minimum before moving on to a new continent. We will start in Oceania as it probably the least successful continent on the footballing stage, from there we will move along until we finally reach the top European leagues decades in the future.
So to be clear the following areas I will be playing in for 8 year periods or more. (not necessarily in descending order) and these are the possible nations I can manage in
Oceania (Fiji, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti)
Africa (Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, DR Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia)
South America (Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, Peru)
North America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, USA)
Asia (Australia, Indonesia, Qatar, Thailand, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Uzbekistan, India, Malaysia, South Korea)
Smaller European countries (Everyone else apart from complete minnows and some of them too)
Larger European countries (England, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain – will run from the start for some variety late game)
International football (All)
Beyond this there are no specific rules, I can spend longer in specific region if I so wish, but at a minimum at its heart hopefully we can get through the rough 64 years to complete this career and hopefully this will tell quite an unconventional story. Ambitious but let's see how we go!
Part One – A Journey to Another World
It had finally come, the day that I would travel for New Zealand, to spend some 6 months exploring what Lonely Planet had described as one of the most amazing countries in the world. With natural beauty everywhere I felt as if I was going to another world somewhere eons away from the rainy summer that was London.
At 28 years old, I had some experience of the world but had rarely travelled outside of Europe and this was an adventure. Already arranged was some bar work to give me some spending money. I was leaving my parents, but very little else so it was a chance to grow and discover both another country but also myself.
When I was fourteen years old I was pretty good footballer. I spent some time at QPR U16's, but my maiden season in the Youth Leagues ended with a knee injury and by 17 years old I was on the scrap heap of failed youth players. By then I had decided I wanted to go to university and get my degree. After four years of university I had my degree and had been voted best player at Loughborough University three years in row. I continued to play a bit of football here and there at a Sunday League level until the knee finally began to give way completely. I briefly had thought about starting to take my badges, but never really thought there was much possibility of getting into football coaching and management so decided not to bother, plus the cost was prohibitive for me.
Using my second nationality of Portuguese, which I got from my parents I thought about potentially going to Lisbon to hopefully join a semi-professional club as a coach, but the deal fell through, part of the reason why I decided to get my mind off things and make a new start in another part of the world.
Arriving in Auckland, New Zealand I was tired and the next few weeks were a bit of blur as I got accustomed to work and got a chance to travel about at the weekends and enjoy nights out work friends. The bar I worked at was called Flanagan’s and was owned by a guy called Donny Bell. He was in his 30’s, and owning his bar was his passion. He was a really cool guy and as I got to know him I realised his passion for the beautiful game matched mine.
As we talked over the weeks he made it known he was a big Auckland City fan and more than that he had built a lot of contacts in the club and in New Zealand football generally. We spoke at length about our footballing histories and our passion for the game, from Premier League football to tactics.
We became pretty good friends and eventually the conversation came up about what exactly I wanted to do with my life. I told him that since I was never going to be a footballer I wanted to coach, but reservedly said that it was a pipe dream that I was going to leave behind.
About six days later when I got off work, Donny came into the office above the bar, where I was storing away the cash from one of the registers when he told me that he perhaps could help out with chasing my dream, but only if I was really committed to working towards football coaching. I jumped at the chance and asked him what exactly I would need to do. Donny told me that he had to ask to make sure that I was serious, but that he would exhaust his contact in the football industry to see if there was anything that was available.
I thought it was cool of him to look out for me….little did I know that this was the beginning of the journey and the beginning of my footballing career in management...