Chris McGuane has the illustrious claim to fame of having developed England international footballer Jadon Sancho from the age of 9 to 14. Now working as Nottingham Forest’s assistant academy manager, the Milton Keynes resident is regarded as one of the best football coaches in the country by those in the know, but you won’t find him shouting about it. Celebrate:MK went to meet him…
When you think of the best football coaches in Milton Keynes, you probably think of Paul Tisdale, Karl Robinson and Dan Micciche, writes Jon Boyle.
But Chris McGuane’s name sits easily alongside that trio as he has earned a reputation within the game as one of the best young coaches in the country – he just doesn’t shout about it.
We sat down with the highly-rated Nottingham Forest assistant academy manager over a cup of tea in Brooklands to discuss his career, starting with the all-important question of whether he is the best football coach in MK.
“Of course!” he replies with a cheeky grin. “See what your columnist Karl Robinson thinks of that!”
But all banter aside, Chris comes across as a quietly confident, intelligent, humble and deep thinking family man, which is hugely refreshing in the often ego-driven world of professional football.
The 36-year-old dad-of-two would have every right to brag about his illustrious CV after obtaining a UEFA A Coaching Licence, an LMA Diploma in Football Management as well as developing one of the brightest stars in English football today, Jadon Sancho, in his previous role as Watford’s academy manager.
But Chris is quick to share the praise with others. “Jadon was an under 9 at Watford when I joined the club and I was one of a number of people who played a part in his development,” he explains.
“I knew him all the way through until he left for Manchester City at 14.
“He’s a great kid, he was brave to go and play abroad at Borussia Dortmund and I’m sure he will be even more successful in the future.
“He used to talk about playing for England as a kid and, now he has made his senior England debut, he is living the dream.
“That’s what I got into coaching for – I’m so proud of him and the 25-or-so other players I coached at Watford who are still playing professionally.”
Before joining Watford, Chris spent six years coaching in the MK Dons academy. And he is putting all of his previous experience to good use in his new strategic role at Championship club Forest.
“I’ve probably done every single job role in academies, working with under 8s right the way through to under 23s,” he says.
“Now it’s more of a leadership role at Forest that involves planning ahead, setting the philosophy and values and driving the youth programme forward.
“It’s great as Forest have always had a record of developing young players and bringing them through. It’s part of the DNA of the club and first team manager Martin O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane understand that as they both played for the club.
“They have really embraced the academy and have watched lots of our under 18 and under 23 players already.
“With the City Ground set to be redeveloped too, it’s an exciting place to be.”
The next qualification on Chris’s impressive CV will be a Masters in Sport Directorship, which he starts in September.
But for now, the hardworking former St Paul’s Catholic School pupil will continue to embark on the three-hour daily round trip from his Milton Keynes home to Nottingham in a bid to develop the Forest and England stars of tomorrow.