Ex-Tottenham forward Jermain Defoe had contemplated giving up on his managerial dream, but remains determined to follow in the footsteps of Chris Hughton and become a trailblazer for black coaches.
Former England international Defoe called time on his distinguished playing career in 2022 and has spent the past 18 months coaching in the Spurs academy.
Defoe is well aware of potential hurdles and the low number of black and ethnic minority managers in English football, which has been further hit by the January sackings of Darren Moore and Troy Deeney by Huddersfield and Forest Green respectively.
Deeney’s maiden managerial tenure lasted 29 days but Defoe will draw inspiration from Hughton’s three decades as a coach when he does eventually take his first steps into the dugout.
“For me going into management and hopefully getting an opportunity, it can show the next generation that if you do want to become a coach, look I’ve done it,” Defoe told the PA news agency.
“I look at someone like Chris Hughton, who has had a long career in the game. I was with Chris at Tottenham when he was assistant and he’s managed Newcastle and Brighton, big clubs.
“He’s had a fantastic career so I look at that and I know there has not been many. Troy Deeney recently lost his job, Darren Moore too and Patrick Vieira was obviously at Palace.
“At one point I did think, ‘what is the point of going into it? Am I going to get an opportunity’?
“Because there are people I speak to with fantastic careers, icons of the game that I looked up to but these ex-players talk about not getting an interview or a call back.
“You do think about it but I just love football.
“For my journey, with what I am doing at Spurs, the badges I have got, I would like to believe I will get an opportunity.
“I don’t want a job because I am black and it ticks boxes, I want to get a job because I am good enough and I’ve done the hard work I needed to do.
“I am more than confident that when the opportunity comes, I will do well.”
Defoe, who was at St George’s Park last week for the launch of McDonald’s Fun Football free grassroots football coaching development and education programme, enjoyed an excellent first season as a coach at Tottenham.
He played his part as Stuart Lewis’ Under-18s claimed success in two Premier League Cup competitions, while this term they have reached the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals and Jamie Donley and Alfie Dorrington have been promoted into Ange Postecoglou’s first team.
“It is an exciting group. Last year was brilliant when we won two trophies,” Defoe admitted.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 7, 2024
“We have some really exciting players and I would love to see them go on and have a career in the game.”
Defoe’s current focus is helping Spurs’ academy stars, but he has received interest from clubs over his managerial ambitions and already knows the make-up of his coaching staff when he does ultimately become a head coach.
The 20-goal England striker has also regularly watched back clips of Tottenham first-team training and praised Postecoglou for getting the club buzzing again.
Defoe added: “I’ve been at the club a long time now. Nine years as a player, second year as a coach, so I know what it feels like when the place is buzzing and the stadium is rocking at the minute.
“Of course the results are the most important thing, but the performances and how the team is playing under Ange, it has been fantastic.”
:: Jermain Defoe was supporting McDonald’s Fun Football’s new coaching qualification in partnership with Kick it Out, British Blind Sport, and England Futsal to make Fun Football the most inclusive grassroots programme in the UK. Register for your local session here – mcdonalds.co.uk/football