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Former Gillingham striker Adam Birchall is hoping to influence the next generation at Premier League Arsenal

By Luke Cawdell
Bromley striker Adam Birchall coaching with the Pro Soccer Academy

Adam Birchall never managed a first team appearance for Arsenal but he’s hoping he can make that dream come true for others.

Former Gills striker Birchall - who has now signed for Bromley - progressed through the junior ranks with the Gunners before becoming a professional and working alongside Patrick Vieira, Nwankwo Kanu and Dennis Bergkamp.

For the past few years he has been coaching Arsenal’s best young prospects and is looking at running their under-10 team again next season.

“It will be amazing to see some of those players coming through and to know you have contributed a bit to their development,” said the 29-year-old, who spent the last three years playing at Gillingham.

“I enjoy doing it because I can still remember what it felt like to play for Arsenal as a kid. I like to try and give them what I had. It is like a family club and if you’ve been taught by the club over the years they like former players to come back and coach themselves.

“I started coaching at Arsenal when I came back from being out injured for 15 months. It had opened my eyes up that there might need to be something else other than playing football. I am not making millions so I can’t rest on my laurels.”

Adam Birchall in action for Gillingham last season against Leyton Orient

Birchall still remembers what it was like when he first got to train with the elite at Arsenal.

“When I got the nod to train with the first team, the hands were sweating and within five minutes I was doing technique work with Patrick Vieira and Nwankwo Kanu. It was unbelievable.

“When I first walked out with the first team, the first player to come over to me was Ashley Cole. He put his arm around me and said, ‘Ad, don’t worry about it, we’ve all seen you play in the games and you are a good player, don’t get stressed and don’t worry about it, you’ll be fine.’ Even if he didn’t think that, it was nice that he took the time to come over and do that.”

Birchall will hope to have several years left as a player but would like to be a manager one day.

“That’s something I hope to do,” he said.

“I like the psychological side of things and as a manager it’s all about man management, the psychology of your team and how it gels.”

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