If you want to be a professional footballer, you have got to work hard, keep your fitness up and always work on your game.
That’s the advice from three former Premier League players who put sports students through their paces in a training drill at Bede Sixth Form College in Billingham.
Andrew Davies, Danny Graham and Tommy Miller are bringing their own football academy to Bede’s ISE Sport Centre over the winter months.
And college students quickly stepped up their game as the trio delivered a masterclass to Bede’s own first team.
“It was great to see the team so motivated and ready to get stuck in,” said former defender Andrew, who played for clubs including the likes of Boro and Stoke City.
Former Sunderland and Swansea City striker Danny added: “It’s great to see the different personalities coming out during the session.”
On the pitch for a good two hours there was little respite for the students who experienced training as they would in professional football.
Andrew said: “That’s the stuff we used to do on a daily basis and that’s what improves you as a footballer both physically and mentally.”
With more than 250 Premier League appearances between them and over 1000 league appearances, there’s few better placed to offer an insight than Andrew, Danny and Tommy, who also opened themselves up to a no holds barred question and answer session.
Having stepped back from their own playing days, the former footballing pros, who all now call Wynyard home, came together early this year to create their own 689 Pro Coaching Academy offering training in the community for young footballers of all levels.
Tommy, a former midfielder with clubs such as Sunderland and Ipswich Town and current assistant manager of South Shields, said: “We had all kind of known each other for a long time, having come across one another in our careers.”
All keen to pass on their knowledge and skills to up and coming young players, as a defender, striker and midfielder, joining forces made sense.
Offering team training, one-to-one sessions, as well as school holiday training and summer camps, their aim is not just to develop the next generation of footballing talent but also give youngster access to the many benefits of the sport, including physical and mental health.
Tommy said: “That’s the good thing about us all having been professional footballers, we have experienced different challenges and come across different situations throughout our careers such as injuries and rejection, as well as success and promotions, along the way. Now we can pass on our advice and share those experiences.”
Skills such as teamwork, resilience and confidence can all be found on the pitch. Danny said: “It certainly helped me with my confidence. When I first started my career, I didn’t like talking but by my mid 20s I was the loudest in the changing room!”
Bede’s sport centre manager Dave Morgan said: “It was such a great opportunity for our students to experience being coached by three former Premier League footballers. We are looking forward to hosting the academy here at the centre over the winter months.”