From becoming one of David Moyes’ closest confidants to a trusted lieutenant at England with Gareth Southgate… West Ham’s Paul Nevin is getting the recognition he deserves and is one of the country’s leading coaches
- Paul Nevin, along with David Moyes, has helped transform West Ham’s fortunes
- He previously worked with England on a short-term diversity scheme placement
- Nevin now works alongside Gareth Southgate as one of his trusted lieutenants
- He knows what his appointment means for the BAME coaching community
When Gareth Southgate’s name flashed up on Paul Nevin’s phone earlier this year, the esteemed coach’s heart pumped with excitement. But mostly with pride.
Nevin had worked with England’s senior team before, on a short-term placement through a diversity and inclusion initiative scheme run by the Football Association.
But this was different. This call was based purely on merit. Because he was good enough, not because the colour of his skin.
West Ham coach Paul Nevin has been working as part of Gareth Southgate’s coaching staff at England
Nevin has settled seamlessly into his role as England first-team coach, playing an integral role in guiding the national side to next year’s World Cup.
Not that his work has come as any surprise to Southgate or anyone else on his backroom team.
They don’t see Nevin as a black coach, just as a very, very good one.
Yet the subject of Nevin’s race shouldn’t be completely disregarded. His appointment on to Southgate’s staff over the summer providing encouragement that times are changing – that the prohibitive views towards black coaches are eroding.
And now Nevin has reached the very top of his profession, he is determined to drag other coaches of race with him.
Nevin (left with Chris Powell and Gareth Soutgate) has played an integral part in guiding the national side to next year’s World Cup
Speaking exclusively to Sportsmail, the 52-year-old said: ‘When I got the call from Gareth, there is obviously a sense of personal pride but also an understanding of what it means for the BAME coaching community – massively so.
‘When you take a job in this kind of position, when you are one of very few, you carry a bit of weight as well. You need to be successful in what you do to keep that door ajar and push the door fully open for those that follow.
‘If you can see it, you can be it. And that’s a huge thing, not just for the coaches coming through but for the recruiters and senior people at football clubs.’ Having, alongside head coach David Moyes, helped transform West Ham from relegation certainties to Champions League candidates, Nevin is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
From one of Moyes’ closest confidants to now one of Southgate’s trusted lieutenants, Nevin’s position as one of England’s leading coaches is unquestionable.
So, when he stands with his chest puffed out to sing God Save The Queen during England’s opening World Cup group game next winter, he’ll do so knowing he’s earned it – it’ll have nothing to do with tokenism.
Nevertheless, the issue of race and what having Nevin and Chris Powell on England’s coaching team heading into Qatar means to the BAME coaching community shouldn’t be under-estimated.
Nevin has played a key role in establishing the Premier League’s historic Coaches Index – a development that was exclusively reported by Sportsmail last month – that launches on Tuesday.
He has gone from one of David Moyes’ closest confidants to one of Southgate’s trusted lieutenants
The tool is a comprehensive anonymous database of qualified coaches from underrepresented backgrounds in professional football, aimed at increasing the pressure on clubs to comply with diversity targets.
And Nevin is convinced Powell and himself are just the tip of the iceberg.
‘I think Chris [Powell] and myself are an example of what is possible,’ Nevin explains.
‘We are aware that visibility is really important. I think when young black players or fans look at players or coaches that look similar to them – that is fantastic because it is achievable.
‘Whenever the nation anthem is played and you’re part of that, it’s huge pride.
‘What I do like is when the cameras pan to the benches and Chris and myself, with that backdrop of a lot of black English players that are on the pitch or sitting alongside us on the bench, I think that representation is massively positive.
‘I think it’s really sad to hear when black coaches say there’s no point going into coaching because they won’t get a job.
‘I hope that stops and fewer people think that way. But you have to be massively resilient to be a coach across the board; white, black, female, whatever.
Nevin acknowledges what his England appointment means for the BAME coaching community
‘It’s a grind and you’ll get rejection. It’s a chore, it’s long hours, it’s ups and downs and you’ve got to be in for the long term.
‘I don’t want it to be because of race or gender that people are being deterred from achieving what they want to achieve.’ Having travelled the world, from New Zealand to Qatar to Senegal, Nevin’s flag is planted firmly in England.
Yet he acknowledges his globetrotting formative years have been crucial to his career.
A ‘bonjour’ or ‘salam alaikum’ around the breakfast table at West Ham’s Rush Green training facility can certainly go a long way.
‘I would absolutely encourage young coaches to go abroad because coaching is about experiences,’ said Nevin.
‘Going abroad highlights the different way the game is played throughout the world, how cultures play a huge role.
‘You can’t cut and paste. What you might do in environment A, might not sit or resonate in environment B.
‘Plus all the life lessons, that can only make you better.
‘Our team at West Ham is made up of representatives from all over the world, those little bit of connections with the French players where I can speak a little bit of French from my time in Senegal, or the Arabic speaking ones where I can say good morning, all those things build the little connections that resonate when you need them within a team culture.’
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