PHIL NEVILLE turned 35 this year, but the Everton captain is showing no signs of slowing down.
Proud possessor of a one-year extension to his Goodison contract which will extend his playing career until 2013 at least, Neville has been spending his summer adding to his coaching qualifications.
Shortly after the 36th appearance of his 17th full season in top flight football, Neville spent a further 12 days on the training ground studying for his UEFA ‘A’ Licence course.
And after successfully completing part one of the course at Wokefield Park, in Berkshire, earlier this month, Neville flew to America on holiday – where he continued to add to his footballing education in conversations with former England coach Stuart Pearce and current USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
“It’s been a fantastic experience and I’ve learned a lot,” said Neville. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is that this (coaching) is something I want to do when I’ve finished my career.
“I’m fascinated by all aspects of it. I’ve always been the type, throughout my career, to ask a lot of questions and be interested in the finer details. I think that’s what coaching is all about: the detail when getting your coaching point across to the players.”
The content of the UEFA ‘A’ Licence course, which includes practical and theory elements, an insight into different styles of play as well as peer reviewed practices, is specifically designed to meet the demands of the English game, equipping prospective coaches’ with the technical knowledge for a career in professional coaching.
“It is an intense course, but I think if you go through the English FA ‘A’ Licence course I think it does come with a certain credibility,” explained Neville.
“That’s because of the experienced staff and the fact that it is not easy. You have to earn the certificate, it doesn’t matter what you’ve achieved in the game.”
Neville admits that while he wants to extend his playing career as much as possible, he has already started planning for a future when he cannot cross the white line onto the pitch.
And coaching is a definite career path he hopes to follow.
“I think when I joined Everton, and you get to the age of 30, you think to yourself: ‘what am I doing to do when I finish,’ ” he added.
“Coaching is something I’ve always enjoyed. I did my UEFA ‘B’ Licence and loved it; I got the bug. I set my stall out that over the next five years I would plan and prepare to become a coach.
“I started making notes for different scenarios, and not just for coaching but for travel, discipline and other things.”
In February Neville was handed a golden opportunity to further his experience assisting the England Under-21 squad in preparation for the UEFA Euro 2013 qualifier against Belgium.
“The three days I had with Brian Eastick (England Head Coach in the absence of Stuart Pearce) and John Peacock (FA Head of Coaching) were invaluable,” he added. “They totally opened the doors to everything: the administration, the security, the coaching and the video analysis.”
A passion for coaching is something running in the family, with brother, Gary, also gaining vital coaching experience in the England set-up following his appointment to Roy Hodgson’s coaching team. The two brothers often discuss the finer details of the game.
“We do talk football a lot, we always have done. Even when we were playing we used to study wingers together, particularly movements of players. We’ve always been a little bit like that.
“Gary will be a fantastic coach and I’m sure one day he will be a fantastic manager. He’s got that aura about him, and the knowledge, and I think he’ll have the respect of the players.”