We spoke to Assistant Head Coach Nathan Rooney for our 'In The Spotlight' feature in Saturday's match day programme. Read what Nathan has to say here...
Nathan, you’ve been here for a few weeks now. How are you settling in to life at Crawley?
“I’ve had a great little start. It’s really nice to work in a football club after my previous experiences where there’s quite a small infrastructure so you’ve got people doing two or three roles which means things get done. It’s really refreshing to see. There’s a great set of staff and players, and they seem to wear the kit with pride. Everyone seems to be working under the same ethos which is the main thing for me why I have taken the opportunity to work with a manager who follows that kind of work through. In general, there’s a lot of hard work to do but we’re getting the rewards so far for all the hard work we’ve all put in.”
How has your role at Fleetwood Town helped you adapt to your new position here?
“So I was in charge of player development and then as time went on a few years back that molded into a youth team role, helping the younger players break into the first team. That obviously gave me the opportunity to work with the first team set up. Through Fleetwood, I’ve been able to network, which gave me the opportunity to go to Guinea Bissau to set up some football camps down there and recruit some players, and the myself and the club become a part of their football federation, so from an African Cup of Nations point of view, that was something we got to do last year.
Recently, prior to my appointment here I got to spend some time in Portugal, which was once again through the networking, and the collaborations we formed. I was working with a third division side over there, Espinho. Things have then gone onto another level and now I’m working in League Two as an assistant coach. Fleetwood opened a lot of doors for me.
Back to where it all started. When did you decide you wanted to become a coach?
I’m twelve years into that now and it started when I was at Blackburn in the academy. I decided to get my A and B license at such a young age. Current coaches at the academy when I was young told me to do that. I stuck to their advice because I knew I was never good enough to be a player, so I had my A license at 20 and now I’m going through the Pro-License. For me, I never really started at the bottom. I’ve been lucky enough to coach at some top levels. So it all started at Blackburn and player development, then I got the opportunity to go to Gibraltar and work with their national team, and as years have gone on time has flown, but I’m definitely where I want to be at this stage of my coaching career.
The experiences from all the places you have been must massively help you as a coach?
Definitely, but it’s not just the coaching side. Culture is the best way of learning. I think if you show commitment to a club for nine, ten years, then that club will show commitment back to you, but there are not a lot of opportunities like that these days. For me, it was all about getting myself out there and building a reputation and doing things properly and developing players. At the end of the day, it’s not just a badge, it’s about making sure what you do is real because the outcomes are life and death sometimes. Your job depends on success. If you want to be successful you’ve got to put the hours in and you will get the benefits along the way.
You can also take experience from your personal life can’t you?
So my partner Rhiannon Roberts has been playing football since the day I met her. She has been really good helping me out as well, because living six hours away from home it comes with the business and the opportunities. Rhiannon is currently playing in the Women’s Super League for Liverpool Ladies and she’s also a Wales international. We met in football, we’ve grown in football and our relationship has got stronger through the sport, so as long as we give each other that time and have respect for each other’s careers, we’ll both be successful.