“He was a revelation for me. The best manager in my career.”

Manchester City face Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday and it’s a game with a special meaning for our MiMentor Global Ambassador, Shaun Wright-Phillips, who has won trophies at both clubs.

Wright-Phillips was 17 years old when he moved to Manchester City in 1999, having been released by Nottingham Forest, and made his debut in the First Division soon after.

That season City won promotion back to the Premier League, and while the young winger played a small part in their return to the top-flight, he would go on to enjoy a long and successful career for both club and country.

And it’s the manager who took him to Maine Road that Wright-Phillips credits for having the biggest impact on him.

Joe Royle“The coach that had the most influence on my career was my first one, Joe Royle,” said Wright-Phillips, who played more than 200 games for the Citizens during two spells and helped them win the FA Cup in 2011.

“I came through the ranks at Manchester City and it was quite nerve-wracking. Joe and the other coaches believed in my ability and what I was capable of, and just kept pushing me.

“When I first went there, I went up on my own for a week, and during that week we had two friendly games. But within the first day I felt like I had been there for over a year, just through the communication the coaches had with me and the way the players were.”

Wright-Phillips sat down with MiMentor members and experts last year for our free webinar called ‘Through The Lens of a Player’.

He spoke at length about the highs and lows of his playing career and some of the valuable experiences he had working with different coaches with varying approaches to the game.

But there was one quality that Wright-Phillips believes is vital for any successful coach.

“Being a good coach is not only about sessions they put on, the drive to win things and the passion, but it’s also about knowing and understanding your players,” he said.

“Sometimes, when players are left out, the coach has to put their arm around them. Communication is vital. A coach who does all of those things is a top coach.

“The great managers understand their players’ needs. Every player is different and need to be treated in the way that works for them.”

Shaun Wright-Phillips Premier League trophy

He added: “Playing with a smile on your face makes you want to learn more and stay out longer at training, and that’s what I tried to do all of my career.”

However when Wright-Phillips left City in 2005 to join then Premier League champions, Chelsea, it wasn’t all smiles.

His move to London was certainly an emotional one.

“Maybe I was naive to think I would be at City for my whole career, but then they accepted a bid from Chelsea.

“I took it as the club not wanting me anymore, and on the train to London I cried like a 12-year-old. I was emotionally broken.

“A few months later I found out City had no choice to sell me, as they were facing administration. But I loved it there and the supporters were tremendous with me. I had some tough times, but they always cheered for me.”

Wright-Phillips lifted the Premier League title with the Blues in his first season working under current Spurs manager Jose Mourinho, and two years later also got his hands on the FA Cup for the first time.

And he admitted that, despite some difficult times at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho always made him feel at home and part of the team.

Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jose Mourinho“One of the things people don’t understand, when you come from a team where you are playing every game to a team where you are not always playing, is mentally challenging.

“There are so many things that could break you and you could become a bad egg, but not once while I was at Chelsea did I not feel I was part of that team.

“We were always spoken to and made to feel like a family whether it was the coaches, the players around you or the staff, you always knew you were part of that club.”

He added: “Mourinho was a revelation for me. He was so premeditated in so many ways.

“His sessions were always fast, the football was always good. I was always tested, not just by him as a coach but by the players I was training with every day.

“He told me once that on a Thursday we had already started preparing for the next game, we were always a step ahead. Sessions were so integrated, practical and similar to the way we played.

“For me, he was the best manager in my career. As a player, playing football and teaching me certain ways to play.”

To listen to more from Shaun about his career, that also saw him play 36 times for England, you can watch our webinar again here.

If you’re not already a MiMentor member, you can sign up for free and as well as watching our football coaching webinars, you can also access our free course modules.

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