Steve Lovell relishing his new role as Gillingham youth coach
Steve Lovell is back at Priestfield Stadium. Picture: Andy Payton
Steve Lovell has been back at the Gills for a fortnight but he feels like he’s never been away.
The Welshman, who scored 104 goals in 275 matches as a Gills player, has returned as the club’s youth coach.
It was an opportunity that he didn’t have to think long about.
“It was an easy decision once I was asked,” said the 53-year-old. “It’s fantastic being back. It seems like I have never been away from the place.”
Lovell held the position as the club’s community officer before leaving in 2007 to manage Ashford Town. When they went bust, he worked full-time coaching Charlton Athletic’s youngsters.
Lovell said: “There is something about the club. At Charlton, it was just a job and I had no connection there.
“Here it is a job but I love the place and you want the club to succeed and get up to the Championship.
“I enjoyed my time at Charlton but I want to work with the older groups."
“I enjoyed my time at Charlton but I want to work with the older groups. I had been involved with 13-16 year-olds. I managed all the coaches and the whole programme and it was an intense job.
“It’s great being back here, with the older boys and trying to educate players so they can play first team football.”
The vacancy for a youth coach arose following a reshuffle in the club’s backroom staff, which has seen Darren Hare take on a new role, overseeing the whole of the club’s youth policy.
Lovell’s task is to oversee the players in their final years of youth development, as they try to win a professional deal or a place in the club’s development side.
For Lovell, it’s not just about improving the players’ technical ability but also ensuring they are mentally prepared for the rigours of professional football.
“You have to have that passion to be a professional footballer,” said Lovell, who as a junior was coached by Terry Venables at Crystal Palace.
“It’s not just on the field but also off it. They need to have that mental attitude to want to do it.
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