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Steve Cooper shares his vision on talent pathways

Manager of Swansea FC, Steve Cooper has extensive experience in youth development having previously worked at Wrexham and Liverpool. Notably, as the manager of England U-17s, he was part of the team that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017. The Association of Sporting Directors invited Steve to discuss talent pathways.

Undoubtedly, Steve has been part of a number of unique and successful contexts in relation to talent development and pathways. The main features of the discussion included:

Steve started by looking back at his career and reflected on key people that helped him develop as a coach. At Liverpool FC he was learning from Sir Kenny Daglish. ‘It was brilliant how the city’s icon conducted himself, how humble he was. And obviously, his football knowledge is outstanding.’ The next step in Steve’s career – The FA – gave him the opportunity to observe how English clubs work and eventually pick up the best bits. ‘I also learned a lot from players I was working with. They were top footballers at their age.’

A key aspect of talent development, according to Steve Cooper, is to give young players first team opportunities. At the same time, it is important to be patient with mistakes. ‘This is the only way for players to step forward. You cannot replicate the crowd and consequences of winning and losing.’ It is also essential to recognise where a player is on his career journey. ‘Talent development is a long-time project. If you help a player make the right decisions, he will end up being in the right place.’

The full video-conversation with Steve Cooper is available to ASD members. The ASD aims to support sporting directors in professional football helping them to connect, share practices, develop ideas, and innovate.

Author: Elena Okaemova

Image: Edited from The Guardian

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