On 13th December 2013, I was one of 250 guests who were invited to the Annual Coaches Awards, held at St George’s Park, in Burton-on-Trent.
In typical fashion, I had neglected to read my invitation and hadn’t realised that it was a ‘Black Tie’ event. I was under-dressed and felt very awkward, standing out like a neon sign. I stood at the bar, ordered a glass of rosé and telephoned the brains department. So, I spoke to my big sister to get her urgently needed advice. My sister is a singer who lives in New York, having just arrived for her gig in Miami, I sensed that my phone call was poorly timed.
As I explained my dilemma to my sister, I could overhear a conversation which was taking place just over my shoulder. The two men were speaking about how teams were performing in the English Premier League. At the same time, my sister continued asking me to clarify exactly what the problem was which had caused me to phone her. Within a second, my mind was changed, the dilemma vanished, and I instantaneously decided that I would be staying at the event.
In Good Company
I had realised that the two men who were speaking near me were former professional player, Ugo Ehiogu, who had been an excellent centre back for Aston Villa (English PL) as well as playing for England. And, he was speaking with the FA’s Head of Football Development, Trevor Brooking, who was a hero to West Ham United FC (English PL) fans and another former England player. I slowly looked around the room. I could see former internationals, TV presenters and coaches who I regularly watch on DVDs. Bizarre! I took my glass and found my seat at the dinner table.
Sir Trevor Brooking is a highly respected former midfielder, having achieved over 500 appearances for West Ham United FC
Sir Trevor Brooking has made the transition from being an influential central midfielder, to taking charge of the development of our international game
Ugo Ehiogu played in the top flight for most of his career, including playing for Glasgow Rangers in Scotland.
Ugo Ehiogu played for the International side, gaining the majority of his caps for the u21 side. He suffered a knee injury and following retirement, he was selected as one of the coaches for one of the England youth sides.
Although I ended the evening horrified at just how close my hair came to being set alight by a magician, I had in depth conversations with sports presenter, Jim Rosenthal’s wife about ‘the youth of today’, and new England Women’s Manager Mark Sampson about my work at Chelsea.
The magician was a mad man.
Amongst the recipients during the evening were –
‘Outstanding Contribution to Coaching’, Jimmy Armfield, Trevor Brooking, Don Howe, Dario Gradi, Hope Powell, Dick Bate and Howard Wilkinson.
‘Outstanding Contribution to Youth Development’, Tony Carr.
I was given a hotel room to stay in for the awards ceremony. Here are some photographs of the St George’s Park complex, the gym which was strategically placed only a few doors away from my room, and some of the great images from the hotel corridors. Believe it or not, I did try to avoid taking lots of ‘selfies’.