Having been appointed Rovers' Under-13s Head Coach on Wednesday, George Boateng has spoken for the first time about his new role.
We sat down with the former Holland international to chat about everything from coming up through the ranks at Feyenoord to facing Rovers in the Premier League and starting a career in coaching...
Firstly, George, welcome to Rovers. How pleased are you to be taking on a coaching role at the club's Academy?
“I’m absolutely delighted to be taking on this new role. It’s a great environment here at Rovers to start my coaching career in England. The philosophy and style of football here is what I believe in, so that made my decision quite an easy one."
Tell us a little bit about how the opportunity came about...
“After completing my UEFA Pro License and doing a lot of club visits in Holland and England at the likes of Feyenoord, Ajax and Derby, it was time for me to get involved in coaching on a daily basis. Once this opportunity came up, I thought it would be perfect for me, I think I fit in with the club and the other coaches. I met Tony Carss [Head of Academy Coaching] and he was really friendly and open; there were a lot of similarities with how the coaches work here and the way I see football."
You'll mainly be working with the club's Under-13 group, is that correct?
“Basically, I’ll be the leading coach for the Under-13s and they’ll be my main group. On the days when I don’t have my usual group, I’ll be helping with the Under-15s and Under-18s too. I’m really looking forward to being involved as we move along."
Have you set yourself any targets for your time at the club?
“I haven’t really set any targets at the moment, but while I’m working at the Academy, it would be great if I can manage to get some players to improve and move through the ranks. The Under-13 group is obviously still quite a way from first-team level, but I want to help them progress through the levels and improve."
Looking further ahead, is first-team management in England your long-term aim?
“On a personal level, I’ve already managed at first-team level in Malaysia, so on a long-term basis my goal is to be a manager at that level, yes. There’s no rush; I believe that it’s important to get your experience and learn your trade. It’s not always the case that a good player becomes a good manager, the two are totally different, so I’ll put in the hours and the work to earn that right. I can’t wait to do that work here at Rovers. It was the same when I was a player, I would have to try to work my way up, and I’m enjoying it. It’s nice to start in this way, and at this club."
You had some great experiences as a player. How much will that help you, and how much will you be looking to pass that on to the youngsters?
“In my case, I can pass on what I went through as an Academy player at one of the best academies in Europe, Feyenoord. Coming through the youth system there and progressing to first-team level and eventually the national team, I’ll use that as an example to help the youngsters at Rovers by passing on my experience. As a coach, I already have some experience at first-team level; I worked under Steve McClaren at Newcastle for example, so there’s a bit of experience there. I’ll try to pass this on to the players, but obviously a lot comes from my playing days and knowing what to do in certain situations. Coming through the Academy at Feyenoord means I also know what it takes to develop and what you have to do to get to the next stage."
Finally, being in Blackburn again must bring back some memories! What do you remember about playing at Ewood Park and the sides you faced as a player?
“To be honest, myself and Tony Carss were laughing about this, because I told him that I actually didn’t like playing against Rovers! It’s because they always worked extremely hard and combined that with some extremely talented players. They were never easy games! Tony told me that’s exactly what this club stands for, and what it wants to achieve. It was never nice to play against, but it’s always nice when you’re in a team like that. It was really tough to play against Rovers in my time, against players like Matt Jansen and Morten Gamst Pedersen, they were all really good. I always enjoyed coming to Ewood though, I scored my first-ever goal for Middlesbrough here and that’s a memory I’ve always kept.”