BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Andy Myers’ desire to be back coaching was central to his decision to swap SW6 for SE16.
The former defender had been Chelsea’s loan player technical coach – helping prepare the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Callum Hudson-Odoi for temporary exits – before making the move to Millwall.
Myers has linked back up with Joe Edwards, who was appointed the Lions head coach last month.
He was celebrating his 50th birthday – watching comedian Micky Flanagan in Brighton – when he got a call from Edwards.
“It was a bit of a whirlwind,” said Millwall assistant head coach Myers. “I knew Joe was going for the job but he didn’t know what the outcome was going to be.
“I’d gone away for the weekend and Joe rang me and said: ‘I’ve got it. Are you interested?’. Yeah. I’d always spoken about wanting to take that next step.
“It’s a great club and a great opportunity – they don’t come around too often. It was something I wanted to do because I had stopped coaching for a year and then I was coaching, but not on the grass as much.
“It went quite smoothly with Chelsea. They could’ve dug their heels in if they wanted to but the loyalty I’ve shown towards them meant it was a mutual respect thing.
“I was so pleased they did it that way, so that we could hit the ground running.
“Joe is an exceptional coach – his attention to detail on the field but also he is realistic. It’s important you are honest in your man-management.
“He went away to do senior football with Frank (Lampard) as well. He has learned a lot from the coaches he has seen at Chelsea but also learned a lot about himself.
“He has always stayed true to himself. That’s important when you are dealing with senior players.
“What I’ve seen and when I’ve spoken to him, he has honesty and integrity. He gives everything. That is literally what you have to do. You won’t see the work that goes on behind the scenes. He will want the same from everyone around him because it isn’t just about him – it’s a joint effort.
“Millwall is a big club. For me it is one of those sleeping giants. I remember them back in the day.”
Myers started on Chelsea’s books as a player and was part of their squad which won the FA Cup and UEFA Cup Winners Cup in the latter half of the 1990s.
Injuries curtailed him to 106 first-team games for the Blues. He won their Young Player of the Year award in the 1990-91 campaign.
He also featured in the Premier League for Bradford City before two prolapsed discs in his back forced his retirement in 2005.
“I picked up so many injuries at key points of my career,” he said. “I look back and if I knew some of the things I do now back then I might have stayed fitter.
“The season I was probably looking to start at Chelsea was 1992 and two weeks before, at Enfield Town, I went in for a ball I probably shouldn’t have gone for and got an ankle injury.
“Unknown to me, for the next four years, I’d cracked a bone. So there would be times I’d open the ankle joint and a piece of bone would get caught in the joint. I just carried on training, because nobody knew what it is. Finally they did discover there was a bit of bone hanging on that tendon which I’d cracked in that tackle.
“The injuries may have stopped me developing more but I couldn’t look back and say there was anything I wasn’t happy with because I sustained quite a long career and there were good parts. You’ve got to manage the downs because managing the ups is the easy part in football.”
Hounslow-born Myers shifted into coaching at grassroots level with one of his son’s teams – Old Isleworthians. One of his kids, Zane, was on the books of Chelsea but is now at Swansea City.
“I was fortunate my old sports teacher Bob Osborn was at Chelsea’s academy and he said to come down – meet Neil Bath (now director of football development and operations),” said Myers. “That’s how my coachig journey started.”
“I walked in the gates as a schoolboy at 12 and left 16 years later as a pro and then went back and did 16 years as a coach – it’s 32 years of my life.
“The biggest thing – and a massive honour – was working under Frank for the last two and a half months. I know circumstances weren’t great but just to be involved with that aspect of coaching senior players – or watching at that level, up close and personal – was special.”
Myers also spent one season as assistant first-team coach at Vitesse Arnhem.
“Roman Abramovich knew the owner of Vitesse and they were looking to try and use our winning mentality and how we are in England,” explained Myers.
“We’re always telling our players they need to go out on loan, at times, and experience what that looks like. It was a great opportunity.
“I loved it and learned a hell of a lot. I brought quite a bit to Vitesse. They hadn’t won anything since the club was formed 125 years before that and they won their first domestic trophy. It was a big occasion.
“They wanted something a bit longer – based on how it was going – but I’d already said to the family that it would be for a year. I don’t think it would probably have gone down too well (if it had been longer).
“Culture-wise it was quite a straight transition. I was trying to learn Dutch but everybody wanted to speak English.
“Football is a simple game but you just have to implement the right ideas. The job of a good coach is to get players to implement those ideas and mindset.”
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