x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

England great Hoddle wants to help our youngsters

The former England manager may open an academy in UAE and the main aim would be to revive the careers of players who have been turned down by clubs.

Glenn Hoddle says he would like to open a football academy in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
Glenn Hoddle says he would like to open a football academy in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

DUBAI // Glenn Hoddle, regarded as one of the most gifted footballers to have played for England, is exploring the possibilities of opening an academy in the UAE which will aim to provide rejected youngsters with a second chance to make the professional grade.

Hoddle, who appeared for his country 53 times before going on to manage the team for their 1998 World Cup campaign, is anxious to put something back into a game that has served him so well. He has already achieved that objective with his first academy which opened in Jerez, Spain, 15 months ago - a venture which has been partly funded by investment from Dubai. The success in reviving the careers of nearly half of the 30 players who have attended courses there has inspired Hoddle and his associates Nigel Spackman, Graham Rix and Dave Beasant, all former players, to branch out and set up more bases worldwide.

"High on the current agenda is opening our second academy in South Africa," said Hoddle, during a visit to Dubai to take part in Saturday's Big Five-O charity golf tournament in aid of underprivileged children. "If that South African plan comes off, we would then look at opening one in either Dubai or Abu Dhabi. "I always think that if the facilities are right and the coaching is right we could get players from all round the world to come here. And that how we are thinking at the moment."

Hoddle, who played for Tottenham, Monaco, Swindon and Chelsea during a glittering 20-year career and then went on to manage Swindon, Chelsea, Southampton, Spurs and Wolverhampton, was clearly excited by his new project. "We are changing these people's lives," he said. "Their dreams have been shattered after being rejected by their various clubs and we are putting them back into the game. Who knows where they might go. It's a worthwhile thing that we're doing and I'm thoroughly enjoying it."

The time and effort involved so far means Hoddle, at 52, is unlikely to be looking too hard for another break into management, although he confessed to having a yearning to be involved in the forthcoming World Cup in South Africa. "It would be anyone's dream to be preparing for the World Cup just now," he said before revealing that he almost fulfilled that desire with Nigeria. "I applied for the managerial vacancy there and was very close to getting it," he said. "The World Cup only comes round every four years but it is the creme de la creme for the managers involved."

Consequently, he will follow closely how Nigeria, under the guidance of Lars Lagerback, the former Sweden manager, fare against Argentina, Greece and South Korea. His loyalty, however, remains with England. "I think England are going there with some pretty good players," Hoddle said. "If you hit the road running and get a bit of belief as well as good fortune you can make things happen. "You haven't necessarily got to be the best team in the tournament to win it. Italy proved that last time. I have reservations about certain areas of the England squad - goalkeepers and strikers - but we've got as good a chance as countries like Italy, Germany, France and Holland. The draw has been very kind to us. Normally we get a very tough draw but we can't complain this time."

wjohnson@thenational.ae