Each month, we’ll be getting the inside line on a member of the 7 Elite Academy team. This month we’ve been talking to Anthony Godfrey, our Global Technical Director
Who inspired you to fall in love with the game?
I would have to say it was my dad, first and foremost. He introduced me to a football, he introduced me to watching the game on the TV and took me to games, so that was the first ingredient of me falling in love with the game. Then watching some of my own heroes made me want to play the game and then where I am today in wanting to coach.
What was your favourite soccer team growing up and why?
My favourite team growing up, and still is, has to be Liverpool. Being from the place where I was born and raised, the players that played for Liverpool, the fans, the memories that come with that club that will live with me to the day I die.
Who was your favourite player growing up and why?
This is a tricky one. There are a few players that stand out. The first one was a young player called Romario. He was a little Brazilian striker who was tenacious, fast, great with both feet and could finish well. I watched him in the World Cup '94, where Brazil went on to win and he was one of the best players in the tournament. Then maybe year or two later we had our own version of Romario in Robbie Fowler. He took my inspiration for the game up a notch or two. But probably the ultimate of all time is Steven Gerrard. How he played the game, the skill sets, attitude and how he captained Liverpool have all been an inspiration for me and he’s definitely a player that could’ve played in most positions, in any generation, in any team. He had it all.
What has been your best moment in soccer, both as a coach and as a player?
As player it was playing in the FA Youth Cup. We didn’t go as far as we would’ve liked but it was still a great challenge and experience. I’ve got some good memories of games in the run we had in the competition with some going into penalty shootouts, I made sure I scored my penalties! Thankfully. As a coach, my fondest memory is of developing other coaches. I know by doing that, then other coaches can go on to achieve and help to develop other players. It’s amazing to see some the coaches I have had an influence on to be where they are today.
Apart from soccer, what other sports do you enjoy watching?
Boxing is runner-up behind football without a question. Liverpool as a place has always been a great boxing city that has developed many great boxers in which we have special world champ now in Callum Smith. I couldn’t tell you how much respect I have for boxers to do what they do. The level of application, attitude, discipline, skill, fitness, courage and heart that is required by boxers is an example to all in sport, business and in life. Muhammed Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins, Joe Calzaghe, Floyd Mayweather, GGG and now Vasyl Lomachenko are all greats I love to watch.
If you could choose any athlete from the past and present to use as an example of greatness to your players, who would it be?
Probably someone that not many youth players might know about these days is Kenny Dalglish. For me he is a legend, not only as a player, but also as a manager as a person. He brought greatness on the pitch, but he also brought humbleness off the pitch, especially after the tragedy of Hillsborough. To do what he did during that time off the pitch in showing empathy, sympathy and most importantly humility to all the families who lost loves one attending a football match, is something that will never be forgotten by the people of Liverpool and nor should it be forgotten by the football community.
What is the best advice given to you as a coach?
I remember when I was 16 I had just left high school and I wanted to get involved in coaching, but also playing as well. The advice given to me is that “you only get out of something what you put into it”. It might sound obvious, but when you think about it, it’s true. The more you put into your craft or profession, the more you achieve from it. That seed was planted in my head when I was 16 and now at 33, it is a quote that still rings in my head.
What advice would you give to your future self?
Don’t get comfortable! Being comfortable and complacent is not going to get me to my life goals. Embrace setbacks as a sign for me needing to do more. When I feel uncomfortable because I’m trying to achieve something, it brings me to self-evaluate on what I need to do to overcome this situation. I look back on my own achievements and there was never a time when it was comfortable or easy.
In ten years time, what would you wish to have achieved, both on and off the pitch?
On the pitch, knowing that I need to contribute in bettering the game for the greater good as a youth developer and coach educator in the UK, US and across the world. We are also developing players and preparing them for what the game could look like in ten years’ time. We have got nine and ten-year-olds in the Academy and the stuff they’re doing is so important for their needs, but we have got to be looking ahead to the game in ten years of how the game is going to be played and what player profile will be potentially needed. I would love nothing more to see any of the academy players go on to play professional in the MLS, or in Europe. Off the pitch, I am a family man with two beautiful kids, so I want to be guiding their personalities and their future, which is exciting. That question has just made me realise that I will have kids aged 22 & 19 in ten years’ time...wow that’s just made me feel old! Thanks, haha! For myself, I have been so fortunate with my career to travel the world, which has educated and made me who I am today like you couldn’t imagine. So seeing more of it in the next ten years is something I do wish to achieve as a social personal objective.