Sir Trevor Brooking

I could have gone into football management. I was never one to think playing would last for ever, so I got my coaching badge in the '70s just in case.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

But when I packed up as a player in 1984, my son and daughter were at school and I didn't want to uproot. I was at West Ham for 19 years and lucky to play under managers of great integrity like John Lyall and Ron Greenwood. Our captain, Billy Bonds, was really quiet and used to ask me to do the interviews after games. That helped me move into broadcasting when I retired as a player.

When you've done something day-in, day-out for 19 years, to shut that door totally is tough. Covering games twice a week made the transition easier.

I was from an East London family. My dad was a policeman and my mum worked part-time making Christmas crackers. They taught me about behaviour and respect, lessons that have stayed with me. West Ham's scouts approached me when I was 14. The school's careers officer wasn't too impressed - the financial attraction wasn't there like it is today. But I signed a two-year apprenticeship, on £7 a week, staying on to finish my GCEs first.

I took day-release as an apprentice and did business studies at college and then set up a binding company with three friends. I did the accounts, going down in the afternoons after training. It's still ticking along now.

I chaired Sport England for four years. It was fascinating, but taught me the frustrations of bureaucracy - the money was there, but never went where it should have. I had some disagreements and left in 2002, but it was a triumph getting sport on the national agenda. I'd never imagined as a player that I'd be knighted, or end up at the FA. My priority is building a structure that gives youngsters an organised, fun way into the game. If I achieve that, I'll be able to sail away quietly and quite happily.

Sir Trevor Brooking is the FA's director of football development.

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