Kieron Dyer has Three Lions back on his shirt after catching the coaching bug
PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 October 2018
Former Ipswich Town and England star Kieron Dyer is now representing both club and country as a coach. STUART WATSON spoke to him about falling back in love with the game.
‘I was blown away. The quality of the training was just... wow’.
You can sense the raw excitement in Kieron Dyer’s voice as he speaks.
The former England international is speaking in the back of a car driving back from Lancashire to Ipswich following England Under-20s 2-1 friendly win against Italy at the home of AFC Fylde on Thursday night.
He’s just spent the week as part of the group’s training camp at St George’s Park by special invite from The FA. In little more than 24 hours he’ll be back on the touchline managing his hometown club’s table-topping Under-18s side at Colchester.
A belated move into coaching has enabled the 39-year-old to fall back in love with the game he began to only associate with heartbreak following an injury-hit end to a stellar career.
The man who earned 33 caps for his country begins by explaining how he ended up with the Three Lions badge on his chest again.
“Last season, when Bryan (Klug) was caretaker, he called me up ahead of the Aston Villa game and said ‘can you come to the ground early for a chat’. I’m thinking he might want me to help with (temporary first-team coaches) Hoggy (Chris Hogg) and Nashy (Gerard Nash), but when I turned up he put me in a room with England youth coach Neil Dewsnip.
“Neil told me how keen The FA were keen to help me achieve my coaching badges as quick as possible and how they would like me to be involved with one of the England teams next season.
“In the end it turned out I couldn’t be appointed officially as a coach as I was still in the process of getting my A Licence, which was a bit of a bummer, but they said they’d still like me to be involved and come along to training camps.
“I think the FA realise that some of the players of my era have a lot of knowledge to pass on to the next generation of players and they are worried that so many of them are retiring straight into well-paid, comfortable media jobs. They are keen to make coaching worthwhile for us.”
He continued: “Last Sunday I joined up with the Under-20 squad at St George’s Park and then on Wednesday we travelled up to a hotel in Preston ahead of Friday night’s friendly against Italy.
“In those four or five days I learnt so much. Now I can see why England are winning all the youth tournaments and why the seniors are doing well because the attention to detail is mind blowing.
“They study the opposition like you wouldn’t believe. They have games plans A, B, C, D, E, F... My brain was frazzled by the amount of meetings and information.
“I thought I was doing alright in terms of the level of preparations, detail and player management, but now I’ve seen what England do and realise I am nowhere near. What they are doing is on another planet.
“Already I’ve text Bryan, Hoggy, Nashy and (joint U18 manager) Adem (Atay) to say ‘I’m turning up in my England tracksuit on Monday and will be delivering a masterclass!’
“I’m really excited. I cannot wait to get back to Ipswich and experiment with some of things I’ve picked up.”
This is Dyer’s first season as a full-time coach at Playford Road. He, along with fellow former Town player turned academy coach Titus Bramble, hopes to have his A Licence by next February/March.
So why did it take him until now to start this journey?
“To be honest, I didn’t really know if coaching would be for me,” he explains.
“I only did my B Licence a couple of years ago as a favour to Craig Bellamy really.
“He’s a good friend of mine and was always on at me saying ‘if I get a job then I want you as my assistant and you’ll need your badges’.
“Then (academy manager) Lee O’Neill called me in and asked if I’d like to give it a go part-time because he thought I had a lot to offer. I came in and got the bug.
“It would be easy to look back and think I wish I’d started coaching earlier, but this was probably how it was meant to be. I needed a break from football after the way my career ended with all the injuries.
“Did I miss football to start with? No. It was a relief when it finally ended. But being away has enabled me to fall back in love with the game again.”
Dyer has made no secret of the fact that he would love to manage Ipswich Town one day, but would rather work his way from the bottom up. Indeed, Klug has spoken of the club producing a future manager from within.
“I look at the players from my era, the likes of (Lee) Bowyer, Joey Barton, Frank (Lampard) and Stevie G (Steven Gerrard), who are going straight into senior management after a year or so of coaching.
“There’s nothing wrong with that, but I want to be patient and learn my trade.
“We (Town’s U18s) are top of the league, which is nice, but it’s not really about results. Bryan and Lee O’Neill are not going to sack me if we lose 10 games in a row.
“One day I might make the step into senior management, but I see the pressures those guys are under. I don’t want to be thrust into that sort of firing line just yet.
“Do I think I am as good a coach as Hoggy and Nashy? No. They have both got six, seven years more experience than me.
“I was so nervous and petrified when I had to do my first session because I was a complete novice. There’s so much to learn.
“But my advantage is that I have got that experience of playing at the very top level. I know what a player sees and thinks on the pitch and what they go through off of it. I think that’s invaluable.”
He added: “I’m three quarters of my way through the A Licence now. A guy comes and watched me and Titus and films the sessions. We should be qualified by February, March hopefully.
“That would qualify me to coach in the Championship and below, but I’d need to get my Pro Licence to work in the Premier League. I want to work through them all as quick as possible because you never know what’s around the corner.”
The last line is delivered with a laugh. It’s good to hear Kieron back in love with the game.