"Football isn’t always perfect" - catching up with former Spur Andy Reid
Tue 18 May 2021, 18:00|Tottenham Hotspur
A talented midfielder with a wand of a left foot, Andy Reid arrived in north London as a youthful prospect in the mid-noughties. Joining with Michael Dawson from Nottingham Forest in January, 2005, he went on to make 27 appearances in a Spurs shirt during his 18 months with us while he also registered one goal to his name - a thunderbolt of a strike against Aston Villa at White Hart Lane in May, 2005.
With the Villans visiting N17 on Wednesday (6pm), we caught up with the former Republic of Ireland international to discuss that goal, his time at the club, and find out what he’s up to now...
Andy Reid was a great character in the game. A player who could get fans off their seats with not just his skill on the ball but also the pure passion he showed on the pitch. He was a great talent with a magical left foot - ability that we perhaps did not get to see enough of during his brief spell in north London, but certainly something he went on to show more and more as his career progressed. Now retired, he is working to pass on all that he learned in his playing days to the next generation back at his first club, Nottingham Forest.
It was with Forest at the turn of the century that Andy got his break in the game. Coming all the way through their youth system, he made an instant impact on his professional debut in November, 2000, as he found the back of the net against Sheffield United at the age of just 18. He continued to push on and impress at the City Ground before his performances eventually earned him a move to the Premier League as he joined us in January, 2005.
Like with Forest, Andy enjoyed an encouraging debut performance in a Spurs shirt but, unfortunately for the midfielder, who was just 22-years-old when he signed, opportunities came few and far between for him in N17. Having made just 27 appearances for us in 18 months, he decided to swap north for south London with a fresh start at then Championship side Charlton Athletic.
At the Valley, the Irishman found his feet again and it wasn’t long before his rousing displays saw him step back up to the Premier League once more. Joining Sunderland in 2008, three fantastic years then followed for him in the north east before he returned to Forest where, in the twilight years of his career, he went on to produce some of his best showings on a football pitch.
With the onset of injuries, however, retirement came for ‘Reidy’ in 2016 but, by his own words, he had caught the football ‘bug’ and he wasn’t prepared to let his time in the game end there. In the latter seasons of his playing career, his eyes had been drawn to coaching. An interest soon became a passion, his badges quickly followed before all his hard work came to fruition in January as he was appointed as the Head Coach of Nottingham Forest’s Under-23s.
“Coaching was something that, from about 26 or 27 years of age, I started to think about. You start to realise fully that football isn’t going to last forever and you’re going to need something different. I always felt I had the attributes, the knowledge of the game and I felt I understood the game enough to coach it,” the now 38-year-old began to explain.
“I’ve always had an interest in it and in how the managers that I had played under worked - I took a lot of notes and wrote down a lot of their sessions. I would have noticed a lot of stuff about how managers treated players and how some managers got the best out of them. You would take on board a lot of things that managers would do but it was also important to notice things they did that I would never do. It kind of works both ways - things that you would do while you can almost learn from some of their mistakes. I always had a keen interest in going into it and an understanding of how it is structured has built up over the last five or six years.
“I think what you learn when you finish playing and you start coaching is that it is a completely different skill set and you’re almost fully retraining yourself. Although it is the same sport, you’re doing a completely different area of it and you have to understand how people tick.
“Before, I would have probably been more interested in a midfield role, whether that be wide or central. Now as a coach, I’m having to understand what the keeper’s relationship is with the full-back, what the striker’s relationship is with the centre back - all these partnerships and how can I bring them all together? It’s a big change so you do have to retrain yourself and I’ve enjoyed doing the coaching badges.
“I finished my pro-licence last year but I’m still learning every single day, still trying to improve and to understand what makes people tick. Things like ‘how can I get the best out of these players? how can I structure my squad?’ and ‘how can I develop myself and make myself better?’ I feel that if I’m making myself better, then that can only benefit the players I’m working with as that will give me a better understanding of how to make them better, which is the ultimate goal.
“Working at Forest as the Head Coach of the Under-23s is great for me because I came through the youth team and into the reserves and then the first team, so I know the pathway these players are on and I would like to think that I’m pretty well placed to help them develop. I’m loving coaching. I have a real passion and drive for it. From very early on I was bitten by the football bug in the respect of playing it and in the last 18 months I’ve been really bitten by the coaching bug. I really get a thrill out of doing it.”
It was from Forest, in a joint move with Michael Dawson, that Andy joined us just over 16 years ago but, although his stint at the Club didn’t go exactly how he had envisaged, he admits it’s an experience that he’ll never forget.
“It was the only place that I wanted to go, and I had my heart set on it,” the former midfielder explained as he discussed his move to north London. “Frank Arnesen, who was sporting director at Spurs, had shown a real will to get me to Tottenham and that was something that stuck with me and I remember thinking, ‘I really want to go there, they’ve really shown their faith in me and they really want to push for me’. I also realised the potential of the Club.
“I remember speaking to Daniel Levy, me and 'Daws' together, and he showed us plans for a new training ground, told us about plans for a new stadium and I think at the time, we sort of thought ‘we’ve kind of heard this before from chairmen and owners’ and we weren’t too sure! Now you look at Spurs with the training ground and the new stadium and I think the Club has a lot to thank Daniel Levy for. It’s fantastic to see where they are now - a firm kind of Champions League club and a real, real top club in Europe. It’s really nice to see it got there.
“I think, in some ways, I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to really show the real me at Spurs. I didn’t really get the game time to show what I could do. In the time that I did, I think I did okay but probably wish I had done a little bit better. I would have liked more opportunities and, with a bit more time, I could have shown what I could have done, because I do feel like there was more to come.
“But football isn’t always perfect. It doesn’t always work out quite how you want it to. I didn’t feel like I was going to get the opportunities I needed to develop. I was 24 when I left and I wanted to be playing week in, week out, and I didn’t really feel that I was going to get the opportunities to even stake a claim for a place in the team.
“For me it felt like it was time to move on. Unfulfilled would be how I would probably describe it, but I still had some fantastic times and some fantastic memories. The standout for me is when we beat Aston Villa 5-1, and I managed to score. It was a decent enough goal and probably my best performance for the Club. Lots of good memories and a fantastic club.
“I don’t have a bad word to say about it. It was an experience that I most definitely won’t forget... tinged with a little bit of sadness that I didn’t get quite the opportunity to produce what I would have liked to but, take The Rolling Stones' song, ’You can’t always get what you want’.”