Ben Herd proud of first year for his performance acadmey but won’t rest on his laurels

The first class of the Ben Herd Pro Performance Academy on a visit to Wycombe Wanderers' Adams Park

The first class of the Ben Herd Pro Performance Academy on a visit to Wycombe Wanderers' Adams Park - Credit: Archant

Life after a professional football career can often leave players in a state of limbo – but Ben Herd is one man who knows exactly where he is going and so far, it’s all going to plan.

The first class at the Ben Herd Pro Performance Academy go through their paces

The first class at the Ben Herd Pro Performance Academy go through their paces - Credit: Archant

The former Shrewsbury Town and Aldershot Town full-back hung up his boots at the relatively-young age of 28 after almost 300 Football League games, and started the Ben Herd Pro Performance Academy.

That was a year ago and things look to be going well.

His first class have completed a year and with Herd’s help, two have secured deals at French side Amiens and Russian giants Zenit St Petersburg.

He has been assisted by 21-year-old Wycombe Wanderers midfielder, Luke O’Nien, who not only trains with the group but also helps with the coaching.

But the Chiswell Green native, who has just signed for his hometown club St Albans City, is not resting on his laurels.

“The minute you start believing your own hype or get carried away, this game will bite you,” he said.

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“Football doesn’t owe anyone a living. We’re happy with how it’s gone but at the same time I’d like to go a lot further.”

He admitted that getting things up and running weren’t as smooth as they could have been but he was delighted with the way the year panned out and full of praise for his first group.

He said: “I was having sleepless nights before the education started in September as that’s an important time.

“It’s quite emotional because these 15 boys will always have a place in the history of what we are trying to do.

“Without them we wouldn’t have got it off the ground. We owe them a real debt of gratitude.

“I’m impressed with how far they’ve come. We’re building footballers and the results have been fantastic.”

Herd’s academy offers players the chance to earn a BTEC Level 3 Sporting Diploma, as well as developing their footballing and physical abilities.

They don’t have much in the way of facilities but that’s the way Herd wants it.

He said: “We have a hut in Greenwood Park and that’s all it is.

“I think we’ve got to a point where we’re obsessed with facilities. That’s rubbish; it’s about what goes on.

“We trained in the car park once. There were puddles, loose gravel, stones, nothing dangerous but it helps you to adapt.

“It’s not about mastering chaos but it’s about acclimatising so when you go onto a carpet, it’s easy.”

The academy utilises slightly different training methods to most, with the training based on movements seen within a football pitch.

And he hopes that uniqueness, together with future plans, will help the academy grow.

He said: “Hopefully we’ll be another year in and have achieved credibility and people will come and find us.

“As a person, the big thing for me is to develop as a trainer and as a person.

“Football is always evolving and it’s always good to have an open mindset.

“If you’ve got a closed mind, you’ll not be open to new ideas and you’ll get left behind.”

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