One of the many sources of satisfaction with which I have been blessed has been the sight of my old students and mentees achieving measures of success that would have been unattainable without my guidance. Putin, Obama, Pope Francis, Higgs, Jobs, Bacon... their names will be as familiar to you as my own. And it is pleasing to see my recent students, who have yet to attain the fame of their predecessors, boosted into the world upon trajectories full of promise. Only this week, at a gala dinner in Mayfair, I had the satisfaction of applauding Warren Gatland as he stepped-up to receive the Performance Coach of the Year award, publically benefitting from my background role as the coaches' coach.
The glittering evening had another pleasant aspect, as I spent much of it in the charming company of the Beckhams, whose generosity and persistence at a charity auction had earned them seats at my table. Understandably, when the formalities had been completed, and I had taken too much of the superb claret, I confess I rather hogged the conversation at the table, giving David my insights into the vital role of the coach. In my defence it must be said that I was egged on by his nods, smiles, and encouraging interjections.
That's brilliant, he said to my observation that the role of the coach was a paradoxical one, bringing the team together, but at the same time giving each player enough personal space. Yeah dead right, he concurred with a nod or two, when I mentioned that all players come with baggage, and the coach needs to be able to cope with it. I've known both types in my time, was his comment when I appraised the spectrum from the austere, Spartan coach to the warm and welcoming. For sure, he affirmed, when I said that a good coach could carry a team all the way to a cup final. And so on.
Realising that I had indeed been making more than my fair share of the conversation, I asked David if there was one coach that stood out in his unmatched experience as a footballer. His answer was immediate and decisive. A Neoplan Starliner that took him to a game at Fulham in 2004. It had GameBoy consoles in the back of every seat. Magic.