Ben Herd Pro Performance Academy: ‘It’s difficult to marry boys with the right club. A lot would be lost at some’
PUBLISHED: 11:47 21 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:52 21 January 2018
The final part of our interview with St Albans City’s Ben Herd has the former professional footballer looking to the future and he tells the Herts Ad that getting young players the right environment to flourish is vital.
Having a good support network while a student is at university, college or places like the Ben Herd Pro Performance Academy is important.
But what happens next is always a big moment in a young person’s life.
For former professional player Ben Herd, one thing is key.
“Players need the right environment,” he says.
“I’ve got one lad who’s doing our university course who is a good player. He’s 5’8 but quite powerful to be fair. A number 10 type of player, a Phillipe Coutinho type of player.
“It’s difficult though to get him in the right place.
“He went on trial at Aberdeen and Peterborough United last year. Peterborough was a bit of a waste if time from that respect as they don’t have an U23 team.
“The reports that came back were pretty decent. They liked him as a player but he wasn’t ready for the first team, which he won’t be at that age.
“But he’s too old to play for the youth team so he’s in the middle, that’s the problem.
“It’s very difficult trying to marry the boys with the right club. A lot of them would be lost at some of them.
“It would just be long ball and it wouldn’t show them in the best light.
“I know from my own career at Shrewsbury. I did a job, a good job to a degree, but to see my in best light I needed to be elsewhere.
“When I went to Aldershot Garry Waddock was my manager and it was no surprise that was the best time of my career because I was able to bomb on.
“He told me we were in the entertainment industry so that was music to my ears.
“That was easily my best football and if I had him as my manager for a bit longer, I think I could have gone on higher.
“He left soon after and I was back to the same as any other industry; doing what you’re manager wants. But c’est la vie.”
Another example he uses is Wycombe’s Luke O’Nien who trains with Herd every morning before heading to Adams Park.
“I’ve played with players like Dave Edwards. He’s a top man, played in the Premier League and at international tournaments but, and this is no disrespect to Dave, Luke has got more than him and he’s only 23.
“But he needs the right environment.
“We can’t be snobs about football. For every Pep Guardiola there is a Sam Allardyce. I know which side I’d prefer but that is football and the challenge is to beat the other. That’s the beauty of football.”
Herd uses the story of one of his former students, who was interesting French club Amiens, as an example of when things can go wrong.
Visits, meetings and numerous phone calls kept indicating the club were still interested.
“Then the phone calls just stopped,” said Herd.
“When you’ve been in football for as long as me you see things like that.”
But with the likes of former St Albans City team mate Junior Morias, now playing at Peterborough United, as well as O’Nien as examples of what can happen when things go right, Herd believes his network of former contacts can be invaluable when it comes to finding that right club.
“I was catching up with Kevin Dillon recently, he works for the Scottish FA, and I was telling him what we do.
“I was also talking to ex-Stevenage man Robin Shroot who has been over in Norway and he has given me a list of managers across there and has told them to give us a call and get video clips.”
With more success in getting youngsters into professional football, Herd is confident that will increase the flood of applicants for places.
“I’d like to be a Mecca for players who have slipped through the net, that have been let go by professional clubs or not been seen yet or coming from abroad,” he said.
“I’d love to be a place where players turn down clubs to come here, silly as it sounds.
“We’re not affiliated with clubs so it doesn’t limit your market place.
“You could go here, you might be suited to this club, to that club, and our network of people is increasing.”
And his final piece of advice?
“Always keep aiming higher. That’s human nature but you need people around you that are ambitious and want to strive for progression.
“Sometimes you’re not going to get there but if you keep trying and don’t give up, you can’t fail.”
For more information on the academy go to their website www.bhppacademy.com