Players' view: the 'right' environment

Guide All Ages

In football, the environment you set matters. Getting it right can be the difference between a player falling in love with the game or falling by the wayside. To find out what works, we caught up with five England stars – past and present.

After starting his journey being coached by his Dad at Brunsmeer Athletic, Harry Maguire has gone on to become a key figure for club and country. The Manchester United and England centre-back had an enjoyable environment at grassroots level, and says a similar positive atmosphere is still important to have at the top of the game.

Enjoyment and positivity

DEAN HENDERSON Having the chance to have fun with his friends helped Dean Henderson fall in love with the game. As well as that, the environment he had at grassroots was all about getting involved, meaning he often played outfield. Developing his footwork has allowed him to become a modern goalkeeper, and it’s something he still works on with Manchester United in training.

Getting involved

Manchester City defender, Lucy Bronze, is at the top of her game. So much so that she won The Best FIFA Women’s Player Award in 2020. With three Champions League titles and over 80 England caps to her name, Bronze knows what it takes to succeed and improve. Having an environment where the coach understands all the players, and knows how to get the best out of them, can contribute to that.

Having an understanding

ASHLEY COLE Former Arsenal, Chelsea and England left-back, Ashley Cole, says he thrived in an environment where the coach understood the players. But as well as that, Cole, who now coaches in Chelsea’s academy, believes a good environment is also one that’s friendly, fun and engaging. Ultimately, having this approach will help players return, learn and progress.

Friendly and fun

STEVEN GERRARD Former England midfielder, Steven Gerrard, says the fact that Liverpool were so welcoming to him as a young kid put him at ease during a nerve-racking time. Being comfortable in his surroundings made him eager to return. It’s something the Rangers manager still values as he wants his players to feel comfortable too.

Feeling comfortable

Sure, some aspects of the environment at professional level differ from the grassroots game. After all, there’s more pressure to win every week: it's driven by results.

But, as seen with England’s training and preparations during Euro 2020, Gareth Southgate’s management, and the clips above, it still shares a similar theme: a positive, safe, fun and inclusive environment.

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