Jermain Defoe has said that he harbours ambitions of becoming a manager one day but admitted that he is taking things one step at a time and is learning as much as possible at Hotspur Way.
The Tottenham legend, who now works as an academy coach at the club, identified Harry Redknapp as the type of manager he most connected with as a player, which would not come as a surprise to anyone.
The striker played under Redknapp at Spurs, West Ham and Portsmouth , and he waxed lyrical about the 76-year-old’s man-management skills.
Defoe told Sports Mole: “While I was playing I always looked at Harry Redknapp and I always thought – ‘you know what, you’re a special human’. Forget about the managing, because that speaks for itself, but in terms of a human being I always felt that he was special. When I signed for West Ham, just how he was with me, my family, Joe Cole and his family – all the younger players – I just thought he was special.
“A lot of time with managers, yes there is an interest in the academy, but for him it was: ‘Alright who am I bringing through? Who is the next young player to come through?’ And sort of change your life. Someone who I can relate to, someone from the East End – he just always wanted the best for me. Always wanted to give me that opportunity to fulfil my potential.
“I made my debut at 17, left school and the next year I’m playing in the first team at West Ham. It happened so fast for me, so he was the one really. I see the way he used to manage the group, how he was with the senior players, that freedom to go and express yourself – ‘you know what you need to do’ – and with the younger players just wanting to bring you through and give you an opportunity.
“I remember when Harry went to Portsmouth – I left Tottenham and went to Portsmouth, and I had a conversation with him about the contract. I remember speaking to the manager and literally, no word of a lie, we agreed it within five minutes. ‘What do you want?’, ‘OK boss, this is what I’m looking for, this is what I feel like I’m worth’, and it was just no problem.
“I played for Portsmouth, he got the Tottenham job, I came back to Tottenham again, contract, ‘Yeah, I’m going to get you what you want so you can look after your family, set yourself up’, all that sort of stuff. That was the conversation I had with him. I wasn’t just like, ‘you’re earning good money, go on’, it was, ‘you’re earning good money – invest and look after your family’. That was always the message to me that he had.”
Defoe admitted that seeing the players he played alongside go into coaching has piqued his own interest about taking over the top job one day.
He continued: “You know when you just love football? Everything that comes with it. Even towards the back end of my career, I did a little bit of coaching at training where I’ve just pulled someone, one of the younger players, and did a bit of finishing. I’ve always had a good feeling doing it, helping the next generation, helping another player.
“I always thought when I finish I’d like to go into coaching. I think sitting back and watching other players I played with – like Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Scott Parker – there’s been many more, Sol Campbell – when I look back at others players who have done it it does make you want to do it more. I want to take my time with it, complete my badges, learn as much as I can.”
The 40-year-old admitted that he is not in a hurry to jump into a managerial job, insisting that he is learning a lot from coaching the young players at the North London club.
“Day by day, taking it step by step”, he said. “Learning as much as I can from the coaches at Tottenham, the people around me, and then see where it takes me. Just take my time really – I don’t want to rush into things. When you do get that job, you need to be ready.
“[As a coach at Spurs] you have to get in early, prepare training, plan the sessions, do the numbers, after training there is a review of the session, there are meetings, you might pull individuals about maybe the game you played on the weekend or a game that’s coming up.
“There’s a lot of stuff that is completely different to playing, but it’s just more game prep, training prep. I’m enjoying it, it’s been different but I’ve really enjoyed it being on the other side.”
Defoe also remarked that there is plenty of talented young players coming through the ranks of the Hotspur Way set-up at the moment.
When asked about the young talent at the club, he said: “There are a few good ones to be honest. I don’t want to name names because there’s so many of them and I hate just picking individuals, but there are a few that have really excited me since I’ve been in.
“They’re really young – a couple of Under-15 players that are playing in the Under-18s – there are a few that really excite me, and it’s nice to see that next generation coming through. Hopefully one day these are the next superstars and these are the ones that will play for Tottenham one day.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Whether or not Defoe makes it as a manager, there can be no one better for young strikers to learn from, when it comes to specifics about movement and finishing with either foot.
The wisdom that the 40-year-old would be sharing, will certainly prove invaluable for the youngsters coming through the ranks at Hotspur Way.
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