Hatters midfielder Berry insists Sheehan will easily make the switch from being his former Town team-mate to coaching role at Kenilworth Road

Assistant boss Mick Harford admits change from playing to joining the backroom staff is difficult at first

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 11:44 am
New first team coach Alan Sheehan in the Luton dugout on Sunday

Luton midfielder Luke Berry believes that his former team-mate Alan Sheehan was always destined for a move into coaching after the ex-Luton skipper was named as part of Town’s backroom staff last week.

The 35-year-old had only retired form playing a few days previously, ending a career that had seen him make over 450 appearances for clubs such as Leeds United, Leicester City, Bradford City, Notts County and Swindon Town.

He also had 135 outings when at Kenilworth Road between 2016-2020, part of the same squad as Berry that climbed from League Two to the Championship.

Former Town skipper Alan Sheehan

Although they have shared many a dressing room during that time, Berry didn’t think it was strange now having a player he was in the trenches with as one of his coaches, saying: “Not really, some I think you would, but with him I think you can always tell that he’s got that aura about him.

"He used to take some meetings with us sometimes and you can tell he speaks well, not like me!

“He was a real top player and you can see he’s going to be a real top coach.

"He’s got a great demeanour about him and he talks well.

"He’s only been in the club a week or so, but you can see he’s going to put more of a stamp on it and take more sessions and he’ll be really good.”

Another former player who took the move into coaching, amongst other roles, is club legend Mick Harford, who has done it all since calling time on a brilliant career that saw him represent the Hatters 217 times, also winning two England caps.

Once he had hung his boots up in April 1997 after turning out for Wimbledon, he quickly moved into a role at the Dons and went on to have stints in charge of Nottingham Forest, Rotherham United, QPR and Luton, carrying out various other duties at other clubs as well.

Harford admitted it was a hard thing to transition from playing to coaching, but is confident that Sheehan will be able to cope on his return to the club, saying: “I got into coaching through Joe Kinnear and I owe Joe a really big debt.

"I retired during the season and my last game was for Wimbledon against Aston Villa and I had a problem with my Achilles.

"I was 38-and-a-half-years-old and it was either an operation or retire.

“I just didn’t want to have another operation at that age, when I was coming up to 39 years old. Joe said to me, ‘we’ll put you in charge of the under-21s.’

“I went straight into a role and, with the majority of the lads, the day before I was training with them and then, all of a sudden, I was their coach.

“It is a difficult process and is something you have to deal with.

"You’re not their friend anymore but you want to help them as much as you can and make them better.

"You want to work hard with them and improve them, but you have to be strong with them.

“But if you have a structure and a belief with what they believe in, it makes it a lot easier, that was my philosophy and I know Alan, he’s a clever guy.

“A lot of the lads won’t know Alan, but they’ll know he’ll work hard, will do the right things and I’m 100 per cent certain that he’ll have a long career in coaching and be successful.

“Hopefully, he’ll be successful here first.”

Although it was manager Nathan Jones' decision to bring the ex-skipper back to the Brache, Harford was consulted about the appointment and when asked if he always thought the popular Irishman would be a good addition, added: "I believe so, having spoken to him for the last three days.

"Nathan brought up the idea of bringing Alan back a few weeks ago and we all believed it was a good idea because, firstly, he knew the football club, he knew the ins and outs of it and he’s part of our success over the last few years and hopefully we can go on and be successful with him.

“Scouting coaches, I’ve never really done that but what we do is look for good characters, good people, hard-working people and we believe Alan is one of those.”