The programme helps current and former senior international players transition from playing to coaching and management within the game, and is one of many courses on offer via England Football Learning.

Emile Heskey, Jack Wilshere, Jermain Defoe, Leighton Baines and Stewart Downing are part of the group embracing the development opportunity, which looks to help participants build interpersonal skills and broaden on-pitch experience through a mixture of practical workshops and strategic resources. Built around four key areas of focus, the cohort will spend time working on the grass, in the club, in the mirror (philosophy and managing relationships) and into the future (career planning and interview preparation).

The high profile and innovative programme has a flexible structure tailored to the individuals’ needs, and takes into consideration their commitments and responsibilities while challenging and shifting thinking from that of an elite player to one of a coach and manager.

The collaborative sessions set within the tranquil and spacious environment of St. George’s Park saw The FA’s Head of Player Selection and Talent Strategy Steve Morrow spend time sharing insight and personal experiences with the group, before England Manager Gareth Southgate joined to talk about his own journey from player to coach and life at The FA before answering numerous questions about his coaching techniques.

Steve Guinan, Senior Professional Game Player to Coach lead for The FA said of the programme: “Along with other stakeholders in the game including The PFA, LMA, Premier League and EFL, we’re keen to encourage our former international players who have an unbelievable amount of knowledge and years of understanding and playing at the top level, in European championships and World Cups, to get involved in coaching and management. We believe we can widen their skill sets and opportunities to potentially lead teams in high profile positions.

We’ve had two national team coaches join us today with Steve Morrow and Gareth Southgate and we’re really fortunate to get that national team input and insight from some of the best coaches and practitioners in the world, here at St. George’s Park which we feel is the best training facility in the world. The environment created here is the best-in-class, and it’s great to have the previous cohort like Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney show the opportunities available and we hope these lads will follow in that trajectory.”

Stewart Downing, former England international and Premier League winger added “I feel really privileged to have the chance to speak to people like Gareth Southgate and hear the insight he can give to us. As a coach he’s even better than when I played for him, with the stuff he’s learned in the years after, he’s been absolute class. And to begin my coaching development journey alongside players I’ve competed with is a special learning curve, and I’m really excited for what the future holds for us.

The grounds at St. George’s Park are first class facilities, when you first come here it’s got a wow factor. There’s everything on-site here for players of all kinds of sports, it’s one of the best facilities I’ve been to, and I’ve been to a few training grounds. This is certainly one of the best.”

For more information on England Football Learning, and the range of learning opportunities offered for anyone wanting to be involved in the game from grassroots level and beyond, please click HERE / visit

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