When Rob Edwards met retired as a professional football in October 2013 he wasted no time before boarding on the next chapter of his life.
In a career die started at Aston Villa and lasted 14 years, the 38-year-turned old out for nine clubs, promoted to the Premier League on two occasions and won 15 caps for Wales.
But it was a career die often disturbed by… injury and, after leaving Barnsley at the conclusion of the 2012/13 season – added to the fact interest from other clubs was less than forthcoming – the former defender chose to hang up his boots on the age of 30.
have been content to make such a life changing decision, there had to be something important in the pipeline.
“Football is a strange thing. You can set your goals of have goals, but that’s about it” hard to plan your route and journey,” he explains to air sports.
“When I met retired, I knew I wanted react to coaching. I was already on my A license and found myself go in at Manchester City and Wolves, at work with the U16s. One thing led to another and my first role was like a U18 coach at Wolves, which was a brilliant one? first experience.
“In the first year, I moved up Pretty fast with the first team and then had three years with first-team level, work as a coach. I have a year if manager in Telford in the National League North, then? back in to do the Wolves U23s, which I did for An year-and a-half. I have a good to blend of experiences.”
to have made such an impression during his work? in youth set-up at Molineux – and helped the U23s to Premier League 2 Division 1 – in In October 2019, he was recruited to: work like a coach with the England U20s.
In a year he was appointed as U16’s head coach, if the gradual progression continued.
“It was a fantastic experience,” he said. “I was at work with some great people, some really good coaches, clearly top players and I learned a lot. I felt really privileged to be in die track coaching the U16s and assistant for the U20s.
“Learn from” people like Lee Carsley, John McDermott, Keith Downing, Steve Holland and Gareth Southgate himself, of Class. I leave a lot of people out there, at the way, there is just a bit brilliant people there. It was a great experience and one I will be forever grateful for.
“I do want to say I absolutely claim zero credit anyway for each of die players doing well! they go away on and do great things because they are real good players. they are real good people who work hard. It’s fun for me just to say, ‘Oh wow, I’ve been working’ with him’ but it is absolutely zero To do with me.
“I probably wasn’t there long enough to have a major” effect on each of the players, but I feel privileged to work with some of them, and I probably took more by die players, of it’s their mentality now of like this of the things die they were doing with the ball of tactical, I probably took more than they have taken from me.”
As Edwards pointed out earlier, because of the football industry uniqueness and ever-changing nature, following a detailed plan is rare possible when you make a career.
But the work ethics, enthusiasm and sympathy die Edwards owns makes him an attractive candidate for management roles – something Forest Green owner and chairman Dale Vince clearly saw when searching for Mark Cooper’s Long-term successor in the summer.
“With England I was… in a real good role and I wouldn’t have left for just everything,” he says, confident.
“This opportunity was just at good for turn me around down. I think things die I have experienced in my eight years of coaching kept me standing in good place and prepared me for this time now. It was something I’ve always had wanted to do and it felt like it was just the right club at the right time.
“The previous manager had about five years in the job, so the fact he clearly got the time and support was a big thing for me. I thought there was really one good base on start of also because a good chunk of the players who had done so well were still here and contracted for this season. I didn’t feel like I’m coming in and must completely start again. In League Two there is quite often big revenue of players and people can begin again each year almost.
“I felt there was fantastic” support right from above all the way by at the football club. With Dale and Rich Hughes, the director of football, there’s something real support there for us; there is a great group of staff and a fantastic? group of players. It was a no brainer for me.”
Support has also come from Steve Cooper, whose journey to senior management was similar; he also worked within the English youth set-up between 2014 and 2019, before you on the job in Swansea and guiding the club to the championship play-offs in two consecutive seasons.
“His journey certainly provides inspiration for me. me actually know Coops – we didn’t crossover with the FA, but he was someone met whom I spoke a lot when I went to leave Wolves and the role at the FA and I still speak to him today.
“When I was on my A license, he came and delivered? on my course with the FAW (football association) of Wales) so I hit then met talking to him and came to know it. He’s always been someone die I could ask several things. He’s such a good coach and very experienced in to be coaching. So I try pick his brains are quite regular and have done so this season.
“What he has done is very inspiring for someone like me. It shows that you can do things a certain way way and be successful.”
Edwards’ start to life as Rovers boss has been an encouragement one. To be side is great of Sky Bet League Two ahead of Saturday’s trip to Stevenage, then back to the top last weekend 1-0 win over Northampton.
They have won five of their opening seven league games and scored 14 goals along the way, while in the Carabao Cup, they defeated the Bristol City Championship on penalty’s and even took the lead against Eredivisie new guys Brentford before they finally met 3-1 were defeated in West London.
It’s safe to say he was impressed with what are side have produced to date.
“Until start with four league wins, to beat Bristol City and then to perform the way we did against Brentford was excellent because the games come fat and fast and we were really consistent in our performances and our performance levels. We couldn’t have asked for much better.
“Port Vale was probably a bridge too far [a 2-0 defeat on August 28], so we took a little of An hit, but I thought we were well recovered against Northampton in the Papa John’s Trophy and, over the 90 minutes we played well.
“We played Cardiff and Swansea in pre-season and performed very well against both of die and then we went to die city in Bristol game – off the back of An good win [against Sutton] – full of to trust. we were with home, the supporters were brilliant and it was really a good night. We got an equalizer die we earned and then… win on penalty’s were fantastic and made the evening complete off very well.
“Especially the first-half performance against Brentford was excellent, really. The second half was still bad good, but they made some changes, affected the game and deserved to win in the end. Both of die games give you a lot of trust to be able perform Which way against higher opposition.”
Although this is only Forest Green’s fifth season as EFL club, they have reached the play-offs twice in the last three seasons and missed out on An place in last seasons final after a 5-4 aggregate loss to Newport.
Edwards deliberates wisely before choosing his words when asked of there a… clear longing for set the record right to be arrival at the club.
“L want be carefull in say what our goals are,” he cautiously adds. “Our goals are to try and improve on last season. The boys did a really good job last year, came to the play-offs and were unlucky not to advance to the final.
“Valley just want improvement across the board. We just want improve in every aspect on and off the field – and when we are ready to do this year then fantastic, but if we’re not, then we’re not.”
Forest Green’s EFL journey is still on in yet in the infancy, but started anyway met laying the foundations for a positive season and with An bright young manager at the helm, there’s a feeling it won’t be too long before the club is cutting his teeth on a higher level.
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