Luton Town legend Ricky Hill would love to work in the English game again

Hatters legend Ricky Hill has revealed he would absolutely love to get the chance to work in the English game once more.

Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 12:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 12:49 pm
Ricky Hill during his time as Luton Town manager
Ricky Hill during his time as Luton Town manager

The 60-year-old, who played 508 times for Luton, the third most in the club’s illustrious history, between 1976-89, scoring 65 goals, also won three England caps during his career.

After leaving Town, he worked with the Sheffield Wednesday and Spurs’ U19s side, before becoming Hatters manager at the start of the 2000-01 season.

His tenure turned out to be a frustrating one, leaving the club after just two wins from 17 league games, but despite that, Hill would love to get the chance to work again in England.

Speaking to the Luton News, he said: “I’ve been looking to get back into the professional environment since I came back years ago.

“It’s one of those situations where there are so few opportunities for so many people, and once you’ve been away, you tend to be out of peoples minds.

“It’s just one of those things, since I left Luton in 2000, I’ve never been employed in this country since then.”

Hill has had a number of jobs abroad before and after his time with Luton, as he was player coach with American side Tampa Bay Rowdies, winning two Championships and named coach of the year.

Ricky Hill pictured as Tampa Bay Rowdies head coach

He also took charge of Trinidad & Tobago club San Juan Jabloteh, before going back to Tampa once more, winning his third league title.

Hill, who is holding a special 'evening with' at the Riverside Suite in Venue 360 on Friday, with tickets almost sold out, believes those successes prove that he is more than capable of offering something to the English game.

He continued: “That’s the sad thing from my perspective, I believe that my qualities are such, that there’s no reason I shouldn’t be in the game.

“But me saying that, promoting that, is different to someone giving me an opportunity, and that’s unfortunate where it stands.

“I’ve had successful spells everywhere I’ve been outside of the English game, including the English game too, with the Sheffield Wednesday U19s and the Tottenham 19s.

“I helped develop players that went on and played internationals, players that are now academy directors, that are now academy coaches.

“I have three professional coach of the year awards, from my 10 years away in America, Trinidad and America again, so I’ve won Championships, won coach of the year awards, all over the place.

“But unfortunately I’ve come back to England and not been able to find anything at this moment in time.”

On why he thinks his knowledge isn’t being tapped into as frequently as it could be, Hill said: “They’re a number of us who are in the same predicament.

"I look at it slightly deeper and without really labouring the race situation, there are very few black coaches from my generation working in the professional environment.

“Chris Hughton was the only one, Keith Curle at Northampton is from my generation too, so there’s been an issue.

“It’s been slow coming through in terms of disproportionate numbers of ethnic minority coaches who were ex-players who never seem to be able to get into the game to coach at any level in a professional environment.

“There’s been lots of different movements, lots of different organisations that talk about racism.

"But my argument is the system and the institution, the structure of the game at the top level has not really valued the number of back personnel that were playing back in the mid-70s and 80s, and giving them the opportunity to play a part after they finished their playing careers.

“The problems I have and Brian Stein and others like that, we were first generation black players in the UK, so once our playing careers are over, what’s our next step?

“The next step generally for people who had the ability like Brian and myself and others, would be ‘they should be in the game, they’ve got something to offer, they played ex amount of games, played for England, played in a manner, they think about the game in a certain way, they’re technically gifted in a certain way.’

“You’d think that would be something the game would embrace, it hasn’t happened like that and then people say 'I’m surprised.'

“Well you should be as the facts are there for people to see.

"The transition for a black player to a coaching or management role isn’t as smooth as it is for others with the same ability and the same playing ability and playing history.

“It’s been proven that it's more difficult for black players to get an opportunity.”

Hill, who still lives in the town, admitted he would jump at the chance to help out at Kenilworth Road one day too, saying: “I’ve been here 20-odd years, and unfortunately I’ve only been back to Luton in a working capacity for four months.

“It’s just the way it is. It’s difficult for me sometimes, to think if there’s anyone that knows the blueprint of how that club, how they want to play and the ideology of it.

“I’d have thought there might be an opportunity for me to assist in some capacity there, whatever capacity I don’t know, but so far that hasn’t been forthcoming from the old regime, the new regime, whatever regime.

“I’m currently here, doing other things, going abroad all the time, leaving my wife and my kids in search of employment.

“It’s not for me to put ideas into peoples heads, or demand positions anywhere.

"But I do feel I have a certain amount of quality that would be beneficial to some organisation in a football capacity.”

Until that happens, or he finds a role at another club, Hill will continue to help out wherever possible in the town, as he currently does by coaching football sessions and working with organisations such as Mary Seacole Housing Associations.

He added: "I've always wanted to be part of the community, the community is the lifeblood of any town, or any organisation.

"I never looked upon myself as solely being a footballer, I've just been fortunate that I was one that was given an opportunity to get out of the community, but I never left them behind.

"When I was 17, I used to go back to my community and take the training sessions that I was taught and give training to those guys, because I think that was part of my duty to still be part of where we all came from.

"Only a few could maybe get to where they dreamt to be, but it doesn't mean you leave anybody behind, so I was always there to help out wherever I can."