Published: 00:00, 12 June 2019
Sittingbourne manager Chris Lynch has told how former England boss Graham Taylor encouraged him to take up coaching after a horrific injury wrecked his playing career.
Lynch was about to complete a dream move from Whitstable to Aston Villa when when his right knee was shattered in a bicycle crash, his brakes having snapped while riding downhill.
The likes of Manchester United and Newcastle had also shown an interest in the teenager in the mid-1990s but the accident meant his playing days were over.
He was thrown a lifeline in 1999 when Taylor, who had scouted him several years earlier, invited him along to pre-season training at Watford.
Lynch, still not 18, admitted defeat in his bid to play again but took Taylor's advice and went into coaching.
The Brickies boss treasured his short time with Taylor, who died in 2017.
He said: "I was in plaster for a year and a half after the accident and I was a little bit lost at this point.
"I hadn't appreciated I was still on Mr Taylor's radar so he really did me a favour.
"I've still got the letter from him, hand-signed, basically saying don't give up, get yourself into the coaching side and we'll help you get through the badges.
"It was really nice of him because at the time there wasn't a lot there for players who'd come out of the game.
"I like to be humble but when you have the likes of Aston Villa, Manchester United and Newcastle showing a heavy interest in you, and then to get injured, it's tough.
"You lose all interest so for Mr Taylor to remember me, get back in contact and try to help me, I can't talk highly enough of the guy.
"He was a great coach and an even better manager, his heart was in the right place and he loved football. I get a lot of my beliefs from him.
"He had a big, big impact on my life, absolutely."
Lynch says he was lucky to survive the accident that wrecked his playing career but he found success as a youth coach at Dover and is determined to take his UEFA A qualifications all the way to the Football League.
He said: "The sad thing is I was about to be signed by Aston Villa when I had the accident.
"I'd overtaken a car that was doing 10mph and unfortunately my brakes have snapped going down the hill.
"I ended up going head-first into a car and then the car behind hit me and squashed my right knee into the car I'd hit, so I was in a bit of bad way. I was lucky to survive that.
"When all you've ever wanted to do is play professional football and you realise you are now never going to make it, that's tough to take.
"I could handle it if I wasn't good enough but knowing that you get there and an injury takes it away from you, that is really hard to deal with.
"For me at that point I'd kind of turned my back on everything football-related which, looking back, wasn't the smartest move.
"I've got a driving ambition to get back into the professional leagues and be a manager there and I'd like to think it's realistic."