I’m not going to ram my playing experiences down their throat, but there might be odd things I can draw on to say, I know how you feel because I went through that. In that way, I think having a playing background can be a strength.
But if you can’t do all the other things first, then actually they won’t be that interested in listening to what you’ve got to say about playing.
In terms of having that playing background, you could say I’m lucky.
In 1996, I got to experience something truly incredible: a major tournament on home turf that captured everybody in such a special way.
It was my first year of international football and I was working with an excellent coaching staff. Not only Terry Venables, but Don Howe and Mike Kelly – outstanding coaches in their field. They also had Bryan Robson as a link between the staff and the squad, which worked really well.
The team itself had something like five or six players who were captains of their clubs. Some outstanding individuals. It made for a team that was tactically really savvy – because of the coach and because the players were able to take those ideas on board.
“I’ve played in the semi final of a major championship – something only around 20 England players have done in the last 30-odd years”
At 25, I was one of the younger ones. It was quite a mature team, and one that was full of leaders. Strong characters. Technically good players.
As I said, it was an incredible experience. But that’s only one side of it.
The other side is how it finished for me individually, with that penalty against Germany. Perhaps I wasn’t quite so fortunate that particular night. But the resilience I had to develop over the years afterwards is definitely a quality I consider crucial in my career as a coach.
Especially in a role like this one.
My experiences of going to major tournaments and being in an England side that played in the semi final of a major championship – something only around 20 people in the last 30-odd years have done – stand me in good stead as England manager.
I know what’s possible.
I know some of the things that have worked over the years, and the scenarios that we’ve been through as a team, and I can put them into some context. That should be a strength for us as a team because, as a coach, I’m not going to be surprised by a lot of things that are likely to happen.
And if something does come out of the blue, this time I know I’ve got the experience to handle it.
Everything I’ve done up to this point in my life has prepared me for it.