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A career in football after your playing days are over

It will happen eventually. Every player has a shelf life, so thinking ahead to your next career move is a good idea. Management, coaching, scouting and player representation are some of the options available to players who want to stay in the game.

Tony Awor's playing career was cut short by injury, so he began a career as a coach and has worked at Chelsea, QPR, Wycombe Wanderers and Brentford - and with New England Revolution and San Jose Earthquakes in the USA.

Having recently left the coaching staff at QPR to focus on his sports management career, he talked to Total Sport about his career path, coaching and how he rates QPR's Premier League chances this season. 

You recently left QPR to work for a sports management company, what does that entail?

After eight years of coaching at various clubs in the USA I moved into player management for Sports International Management Ltd in London and became a licensed player agent. The job involves a number of different roles from scouting, contract negotiations, finding players new clubs and finding clubs players, to marketing and sponsorship. In addition to that one of the most important roles is to guide and advise young players in the best way possible so they can reach their potential. 

Are there any similarities between this and coaching?

Yes there are a lot of similarities with regards to working with talented young players and trying to develop them into quality professionals in the long run. I still talk to all the same people in the game and the only difference is that I am watching from the stands or pitch side instead of physically coaching the lads.

Any notable youngsters you’ve worked with?

I have worked with a number of exceptional youth players that hopefully will be well known soon. Two in particular are goalkeeper Tommaso Trani and striker Bernard Mensah (pictured). Tommaso has recently signed for QPR from AC Milan. My colleague Roger Barnes and I were quick to represent him because of his ability and commitment to always wanting to improve as a player. Mensah is a local lad from Isleworth, west London who is a special talent at Watford. He’s also on Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur's wish list. Although still only 16, he is involved with the first team and has trained with the Full Ghana national team.

Have you personally played football at any level?

I have played football at academy level in the UK and professionally in the USA. It’s very cliché to say but hamstring and knee injuries cut my career short. This is how I got into coaching and eventually player management.

What made you become a coach?

Not being able to play competitively at a high level anymore was the main catalyst, but I think my love and passion for the game is that strong that I had to be involved in another capacity - I even have a degree in sports management and football. I think that the opportunity to work with and develop the ‘next generation’ of players and pass on my experience and knowledge of the game is another major factor. Nothing makes me more proud than seeing a young lad I have coached before sign professional terms.

What were your responsibilities?

Alongside my former colleague Sean Conlon I was responsible for recruitment, technical and tactical development of elite level youth players after which they would be assessed by the academy managers and a decision would be made on signing them.

Where else have you worked?

Being a west London lad I have also worked at Wycombe Wanderers, Brentford and Chelsea, as well as working for the New England Revolution and The San Jose Earthquakes in America.

What sort of season are you expecting from QPR?

At first I expected a really difficult battle for QPR to stay in the Premiership, however after some very positive signings in the transfer window, the club now have every chance of a great season this year. Shaun Wright-Phillips in particular is a player of real quality that can help the team push on.

What were your reasons for leaving?

Player management was the next logical step forward for me after spending so much time working with youngsters. I believe I can offer good advice in terms of making the difficult transition from academy starlet to regular first team professional.

Interview by Chris Smith

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