‘I never intended to be a manager’ – ex U’s boss Steve Whitton
THERE is life after football, and Steve Whitton is proof of that.
Former Colchester United and Ipswich Town midfielder Whitton was back in East Anglia over the weekend, to take part in Kem Izzet’s Testimonial at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
Whitton spent three years as a player at Ipswich (1991-94), before moving down the A12 to become a player-coach at Colchester, originally under boss Roy McDonough.
Although McDonough was sacked as U’s manager, just a few months later, Whitton went on to enjoy an extended career with the U’s, as a player, coach and then three years as a manager.
He has been living in Spain for the last nine years, a real family man with twins Constance and Stanley set to celebrate their seventh birthdays on June 1.
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Whitton, now 51, misses the life of a footballer, but not the life of a football manager!
“I miss the coaching, and the lads, and the every-day training,” admitted Whitton.
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“But the management side of it, I always found that a struggle.
“It’s different now, if you are at a big club with the finances to do things, but I remember phoning around just to find a place to train, and pumping up footballs!
“It was tough, and all the lads who did the job, like Roy (McDonough), Ian Atkins (1990-91), and Steve Wignall (1995-99), found it hard.
“I enjoyed it while it lasted, but I never intended on going into management, to be honest.
“When Roy brought me to Colchester, it put another four or five years onto my career, and I have to be grateful for that.
“I used to come and watch Roy and the team, when I was at Ipswich. They were great times at Layer Road then, and its nice to see how things have developed.
“When Roy brought me to Colchester from Ipswich in the first place, as a player-coach, I was already aged 34. I thought I would have just one more year in the game.
“But I ended up retiring at the age of 38!” added Whitton.
London-born Whitton began his career at Coventry City in the late 1970s, before enjoying a fruitful career with West Ham, Birmingham, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich and Colchester.
He replaced Mick Wadsworth as U’s manager within the first couple of weeks of the 1999-2000 season, and kept the Essex club in the third tier during his three years at the helm.
But he has not worked in football since his departure from Layer Road in early 2003, and nor has he wanted to.
He has built a new life for himself with his family in Marbella, on the Costa del Sol in Spain.
“It’s a very nice place for the kids. We are outdoors all the time, and it’s very sports-orientated, so it’s lovely,” explained Whitton.
“I haven’t played much football, though I play golf most days, and tennis. I still try to do something after the school run, and I am basically a taxi service for the kids.
“It’s just a completely different life, and we still see most of the family all of the time, because they are always out with us on free holidays! We can’t get rid of them!
“I am not fluent in Spanish, but the kids are, which is all we need. Everyone speaks English out there anyway.
“I watch more football on television now, than I ever used to.
“My wife says to me - ‘you never used to watch football!’ – but that’s because I used to be out watching football live. Now I watch it on tele. It’s great,” added Whitton.