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GUEST BLOG: Fighting back after serious injury
Manisha Tailor (photo: Kajal Nisha Patel)

Manisha Tailor (photo: Kajal Nisha Patel)

By Manisha Tailor

One tackle can cause loss of form, one tackle can lead to mental breakdown, and just one tackle can end the career of a professional footballer. Perhaps this was thought in November 2010 when one horrific tackle broke the leg of Arsenal and Welsh International, Aaron Ramsey, in a manner which caused onlookers to wince and look away in disgust. “The determination and professionalism that you need, it’s quite tough”.

A feeling shared by one former Arsenal player who has experienced various levels of the football pyramid after suffering two serious injuries which saw him drop down from the football league to non-league. A player who has most recently been compared to football greats such as ‘Pele’ and tipped as scoring the best FA Cup goal ever. That player is Rene Steer: Injury, setback, to current form that has attracted much interest across the globe.

Steer spent 6 years at Arsenal seeing him make numerous appearances for the reserves in addition to graduating to the first team in 2007 before departing on loan to Gillingham in 2009. Since then he has played for clubs including: Oldham Athletic, Staines Town and Woking, having left last season following a serious injury. “I personally believe that I’ve been unlucky with 2 serious injuries at the wrong time which has stopped me showing clubs what I’m all about”. He started this season with St. Neot’s Town but has most recently joined Boston United who play in the Conference North Premier League.

From the heights of the Arsenal to playing non-league, such difference can potentially impact players psychologically with a difference in status, money and fan base. Now to add injury, ruling a player out of something that he loves and has a passion for, ruling a player out of something he lives to do – playing the game. Steer, having experienced the two, illustrates that mental toughness is paramount to help overcome such challenging circumstances. It is his resilience, determination and focus that is admirable, and tells us much about his strong character. This season we see the form that saw him lauded so early in his career.
His left-footed 40-yard wonder goal in St Neot’s FA Cup game (see video clip below) has lead him to become an internet sensation with over 400,000 views and fans commenting: “it’s truly ridiculous”….. “goal of the season”. Manager Iain Parr is positive about Steer’s current form: “The last two or three games he’s showing what he’s all about defensively”.


Rene, Norwich City FC scout in addition to a highly regarded football coach at The Rachel Yankey Football Programme, has received words of support and encouragement from the most capped England International, Yankey, who stated in a tweet: “very proud of one of my coaches after coming back from injury. Step aside Leighton Baines!”

Steer’s journey through his injury was most certainly an emotional one hence why the ‘wonder goal’ is that much more special and significant. “When Rene scored that goal I was happy and emotional because I said to him that goal had a meaning, it was meant to be. The year he had out in football due to his injury was probably the worst thing that happened to him, and to watch him come back fighting and putting in so much work to get fit and reach his top form again has been inspirational to me and our friends. That goal made up that year of him missing football and now he’s reaping from it. I’ve watched him reach his all time low to picking himself up and reach is high, watching his journey has been amazing” (Ola Williams, Wingate and Finchley FC).

Having the courage and confidence to bounce back after a serious injury that takes you away from what you yearn to do is tough and without the will power and determination, along with a supportive network can be an extremely long road. Rene Steer is a real example of someone who has strength in mind, but most importantly a real willingness to want to do well. “My aim is to try to get back playing league football and for the rest of the season, to keep playing and maybe chip in with a few more goals.”

As stated by Williams, an inspiration to those who may also have suffered from a set back within the game. A humble, funny, down to earth, well grounded and genuinely lovely person. This combined with his strength in character is most certainly a recipe for success. Focus, and possibilities are endless. I look forward to seeing Steer playing in the Football League in the not so distant future.
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Watch the goal below:


Give your players targets like Barcelona

davidscwnewEven Barcelona give their players targets. Sergi Roberto spoke last season about how he stepped into Lionel Messi’s shoes in the first-team, all part of the club’s policy of giving youth players the chance to prove their worth whenever possible.

Now 21, he has spent a third of his life at Barça, having made his first team debut it 2010 and now in 2013/2014 he has finally been made an official member of the first team squad and is closer than ever to a regular spot in the first eleven.

Following Thiago Alcántara’s departure for Bayern Munich, FCB director of football Andoni Zubizarreta, sadi: “Thiago having gone, our choice is Sergi Roberto,” he said. Yet another example of the club’s philosophy of promoting local talent.

Roberto said: “It’s good that so many Barca B players are getting chances because it shows things are being done right, and that the first-team coaches have faith in the young players.

“We always go out with a special attitude when we play for the first-team – that’s why we try to do our very best for the whole match.”

They may be some of the best youth players in the world to but to get better even Barca’s players need to have their own targets. In my own teams I give targets. A target might be something as major as moving into a team at a higher level, but often they are much simpler – crossing, dribbling, heading – and every single player has his own.

I was explaining my ‘youth’ policy at a dinner party last week when one of the other guests on my table said, “But is it necessary? After all, the players are all the same age – why not just coach the same principles?

”What this guest didn’t understand was that within an age bracket there can be up to a year difference between some of the players.

And that makes a huge difference in youth teams. Some players will grow quicker than others – they might be taller, struggling to cope with coordination; or smaller, finding they are brushed off the ball easily. So treating them like individuals rather than a group of 10-year-olds is actually really important.

You should try to give each of your players targets to meet during the season. By helping them to develop in different ways and try out new things, you may just find a gem you didn’t realise you had. So this week, why not try specific targets, such as “Anthony will try to head every ball that comes to him at head height”, or “instead of dribbling into the box every time, Simon will cross the ball”.

Get your players changing their natural approach to a situation and you may just be surprised how much quicker they develop!

Watch the video clip below of Sergi Roberto at Barcelona:

Great passing movement warm up video

The Brazilian attacker

David ClarkeAre you Jairzinho in disguise?

Brazil have a team that could win the next world cup not just because it’s on home soil but because they are beginning to put together a fabulous young team that will give Spain and Germany a run for their money.

They play a fast passing game 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 and at the top of the formation is a young striker called Lucas Moura – and finally it seems Brazil have a player to match the Brazil great Jairzinho.

Like Jairzinho, Lucas, aged 19, can play as a quick forward or winger and will hope to emulate his fellow countryman. Jairzinho was part of the legendary Brazil team that won the 1970 World Cup – he became one of only three players to have scored in every game his team played in the tournament.

Lucas has a low centre of gravity and runs with speed at defenders, dribbling past them or using skills to beat them. He has also been compared with Porto’s Hulk and AC Milan’s Alexandre Pato, but I like to think of him as Jairzinho.

He’s being chased by Inter Milan and Manchester United both of whom hope to prise him away from Sao Paulo but it’ll take a lot of Euros.

Lucas also wears Jairzinho’s number seven shirt for the national team.

Watch him in action in the clip below:

See also The English playmaker

See also The German defender

The English playmaker

David ClarkeChelsea youth midfielder Billy Clifford has all the attributes to become a classic playmaker. The 19-year-old is agile, quick of body and of mind, patient on the ball and has lot of creative vision.

At the moment he thrives in the atmosphere of Chelsea U21s where he has built up a great understanding with the more famous Josh McEachran. Their appreciation of what each other can do gives them an extra dimension to the quality and skill of play all over the pitch.

His youth team manager, Dermot Drummy is very impressed: “He’s a very good player Billy, an absolutely excellent standard of player for me and he’ll set the way we play; a leader on and off the field. [He’s] a fantastic trainer and he’ll set the standard for us on and off the pitch like that…we want that sort of leadership.
“He’s a player who can play anywhere. He has a footballer’s intelligence, he has everything, and he’s a winner.”

Indeed he is, having played a key role in FA Youth Cup and Premier Reserve League trophy successes in recent times. He also joined Andre Villas-Boas’ first-team squad on tour in Asia in 2011 and has been on the substitutes bench in the UEFA Champions League.

His versatility and ability to also play wide or at full-back will make him an enticing and intriguing prospect for a loan move to a Championship team – in the right team he would be a huge asset.

Hopefully he will progress over the next couple of years because this boy is exactly the type of player England needs.

Watch this video clip of him and see his vision and skills.

See also The Brazilian attacker

See also The German defender

The greatest one-touch, two-touch passing moves.. at Under-11
July 11, 2012, 3:50 pm
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David ClarkeIt has been discussed for years and finally the FA are doing something about it.Englandare pushing to close the gap at youth level withSpainandGermany. Doing that should boost the futureEnglandteam…

Well we may be finally putting things in place to do it but I was surprised by how advanced some teams are across the pond inAmerica. They sure are building for the future.

An U11 team inCaliforniahas created its own little area ofSpaintaking their inpiration from the masters of tiki taka,Barcelona. They’ve called their team Barcelona-USA, and play in the same strips as the Catalan giants.

The video that got everyone purring was Barcelona-USA’s U11 Cal South State Cup semi-final against Arsenal FC – no slouches themselves at this level.

But in an epic 13 minutes of football, these young players executed some of the greatest one-touch, two-touch passing moves that you’ll see anywhere, anytime.

According to their coach: “These performances are no accident. It takes meticulous training, studying, and artistry — a craftsman. You can not just throw 11 players on the field and ‘talk’ about possession. That’s just talking. And anybody can do that… you should be asking yourself: ‘Do I really care, or am I just a talker?'”

Are you watching England?

See the video everyone’s talking about below:

The German defender

David ClarkeZinedine Zidane was asked which player caught his eye at Euro 2012. Zlatan Ibrahimovic? Andrea Pirlo? Mesut Ozil? Iniesta? Ronaldo? No. The player he picked him out above any more offensive options was German centre back Mats Hummels.

“To me he is the only player to make a difference,” Zidane said.

It is rare that central defenders get the kind of plaudits like the one dished out by Zidane. But Hummels isn’t a typical defender, having been given the liberty to venture forward by coach Joachim Loew, an opportunity he has eagerly snapped up – but that hasn’t made him forget his responsibilities to the team.

“It is nice to go forwards and to be recognised for that, but I am prepared to be a wall if I need to be,” says Hummels.

Hummels was part of the class of 2009 in Germany that won the Under-21 European Championship in Sweden in rampaging style. The team included Manuel Neuer, Jérôme Boateng, Sami Khedira and Ozil all in today’s national team.

“It’s good that we have grown up together,” says Hummels. “You know how they are on the field and off it. It feels more like a family.”

He has many admirers in Europe but is happy at his club Borussia Dortmund. “It’s a special feeling at Dortmund. We have the freedom to do whatever we want. I can be creative and that’s how I love to play. It’s a status I have worked long and hard for and I did not want to give it up,” Hummels said.

But it won’t be long before the big guns in England and Spain realise he could be the key to winning the Champions League.

Watch his passing, attacking and defending skills below, he’s a young man with a great future: