Former Wolves, West Brom and Aston Villa man Joleon Lescott helps Young Lions as he eyes the boardroom

Joleon Lescott has long-term plans to become a sporting director but is excited to offer support to England’s Under-21 players whilst on his own journey of development.

Joleon Lescott, centre, is part of England's Under-21 coaching set-up.
Joleon Lescott, centre, is part of England's Under-21 coaching set-up.

The 39-year-old was recently appointed as part of Lee Carsley’s coaching staff with the Young Lions, having left his position as loan manager at Manchester City in the summer.

Lescott’s role at the Etihad Stadium was part of a plan to eventually remain in football at boardroom level but the chance to work with the next generation of talent in this country was an opportunity which suited the former defender.

While the job title is England Under-21 coach, the former Wolves, Albion and Villa defender – and the Football Association – view the specifications as more broad.

“I know there is a long way to go for me to become a top coach and it is not necessary something I am thinking about, it is more developing players really,” Lescott said.

“The roles have to fit with where I want to go and that is more of an admin side, so sporting director or technical director, that is the route I want to take. The things I am studying are helping me towards that and to be recognised, taken more seriously, but the coaching elements are more mentoring roles than being on the grass every day.

“I have a plan in place for what I want to achieve and I know there is a lot of hard work that will go before that, so I am ready and excited to be on the right path.”

The former centre-back decided to step away from his old club to concentrate on a Masters degree in sports directorship whilst also taking part in courses to improve his self-development.

With a rough goal of having the required qualifications and experience behind him by the time he turns 45, Lescott is aware when he does start applying for jobs he will be one of few from black and ethnic minority backgrounds going for such roles.

Les Ferdinand at QPR is a rare example of a director of football in England who is not white, and two-time Premier League winner Lescott insisted: “I believe I have something to offer and I owe the game something because it has given me so much. In regards to the representation (in coaching and at boardroom level), it is nowhere near enough but Lee and the FA made it clear I wasn’t ticking any boxes.

“They said this is the role, this is the role you have been doing and it mirrors up with what we want the role to look like so that was enough for me. It is helpful I know Lee and Ashley Cole but, yeah, moving forward hopefully I am part of the transition where mindsets change with how we view coaching and sporting directors, but my goal is to be a success. Hopefully I inspire other players and generations but I am just here to do the best I can.”

Lescott’s first week as part of the England Under-21 set-up was eventful with their match in Romania scheduled for last Friday postponed due to a couple of positive Covid-19 cases, but the squad ended an up-and-down few days with a 2-0 win over Kosovo on Tuesday.

The 26-cap Three Lions international added: “The first part of the week was long due to not having a game and that day where we were due to fly, then having to be stuck in our rooms whilst we isolated to make sure everything was OK.

“Luckily everyone was healthy and then we had the game on Tuesday. I was speaking to Ashley and it was crazy how we were equally as excited as when we played, but it didn’t feel the same level of pressure because it is a different type of pressure.

“I really enjoyed it though, it is a great bunch of players and staff. It is a new group, an exciting group and hopefully there is success there.

“We all believe we can help in different ways and add value to their careers, which is key. Yes we want to be successful as Under-21 coaches, but the goal is to propel these players into the senior team. That is our focus; can we prepare players for Gareth Southgate and the seniors? Hopefully we’re able to do that.”

Although Lescott will be busy during international breaks, he will continue to be a pundit for BT Sport across their Champions League coverage whilst also studying.

Having watched Manchester City fall short of European glory in May, the Birmingham-born ace hopes the arrival of Jack Grealish can be the difference.

“They are definitely as strong as last year. Sergio (Aguero) didn’t feature as much and coming in is Jack, who is an exceptional talent,” Lescott said.

“After going so close and having not quite done it, I am sure there is determination there to get over the line.”

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