Comment and Analysis @ghostgoal
Jason Euell interview: From the Crazy Gang to coaching England
Jason Euell has gone from the Crazy Gang to coaching Charlton and is even working with England's most talented youngsters. In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Euell tells Adam Bate about his journey so far and why he is now ready for management...
Last Updated: 12/06/20 8:28am
The school of hard knocks. That is how Jason Euell describes his experience breaking through at Wimbledon in the era of the Crazy Gang. But he would not change it.
Euell has fond memories of the club that gave him his professional debut in a playing career that spanned 16 years with a dozen of them spent in the Premier League.
He was also Charlton's top scorer in the competition for three consecutive seasons between 2001 and 2004 and even gained international experience with Jamaica.
But he is planning to make an even bigger impact as a coach.
Euell already has eight years of experience at Charlton, where he is currently managing the U23 team, as well as working with England's age-group sides as an out-of-possession coach.
He has his UEFA Pro Licence too. Most of all, he has big plans for the future.
It is a far cry from those early days as a teenager walking into what, for their opponents at least, was regarded as the most intimidating dressing room in English football.
Euell grew up around the 1988 FA Cup winning side of John Fashanu and the rest. While many had moved on by the time that he broke into the team, Vinnie Jones was back for a second spell and the cast of characters made for a special working environment.
"It made me the player that I was and the person that I am today," Euell tells Sky Sports. "It was a unique group of people and it had a real impact on me. I am still in touch with probably 90 per cent of that team. We still have a WhatsApp group together.
"We were always up against it at Wimbledon. We could not afford to have off days. I still say that to the boys now. That could be the difference between getting a game and not getting a game. It could be the difference between having a career and not having a career.
"A lot of that mentality comes from Wimbledon. I had to man up very quickly. The game has changed a lot but you still take those values with you. It was about respect and trust."
Perhaps you might expect someone now steeped in the ethos of the FA and accustomed to EPPP guidelines to look back in disbelief at the antics of the old Crazy Gang but Euell prefers to take the positives. He credits that experience for shaping his thinking to this day.
"What I learned was that talent was not enough. Plenty of talented players do not make it. You need to have other attributes. It is about values. If you do not do your job then others start slipping and it has a knock-on effect on the group. Do it properly or everyone suffers.
"Some people focus a lot on the technical and tactical aspects because they think that is football. But the psychological and the social are very much part of it. Some might not have all the attributes but psychologically they are winners. Their mentality sets them apart."
As a player, Euell had that mentality. He was a natural too. Often ghosting into the box, he scored 56 Premier League goals. But he now believes he has found his calling as a coach.
"The plan was to play on," he says of the decision he made back in 2012. "I had no serious injuries and I was a fit person. But the opportunity came up when I was offered the chance to coach the U15 side at Charlton. It was a great place to start the next phase of the journey.
"It also kept me in the building so I didn't lose that changing room environment because I know that this is what a lot of people miss when they step away from the game they have been around for 15 years. For me it was an easy transition so that helped."
Euell had looked to players such as Teddy Sheringham as an example of how he could play on but turning to coaching at a relatively early age has had its advantages. Not only is he now vastly experienced at the age of 43 but it ensured his initial impact was a positive one.
He recalls the day that the Charlton youngsters were told that he would be their new coach. "They had seen me playing for the club so you felt like you had already got them," he explains. "They were going on YouTube and watching my goals. It made it easier."
Maintaining that connection is a big part of the job now.
"I have to chop myself up into so many different people," says Euell.
"You are the coach, the manager, the mentor, the role model, the best friend, the brother, the uncle. You are all of those different things to different people. Some might need an arm around them, others don't. It is all about getting to know how to get the best from them.
"If you are a shouter then that will work for some but not for all because the players come from so many different backgrounds. You have to get it right for the individual you are working with. You might have to explain things differently in order to get them to respond."
Charlton's youngsters can at least count on some of the best coaching around. Euell took up the invitation to work with the England U18 side as an out-of-possession coach and has since moved on to the England U20 group, working with the best young talent in the land.
"Being with England has enhanced everything for me," admits Euell. "It has provided reassurance where I was already implementing the same things and it has helped me to add bits to my sessions that I had been unaware of. It has made me a better coach.
"It is benefiting our players at Charlton too. Every time I come back from a camp there are questions. They want to know all about the players, they are so intrigued by it all.
"The good thing about it is that I can show them the sessions that we do with England and challenge them to do it too. That is where they aspire to be. They want to play for England. I can now say to them that if they do the right things with me then they can get there."
Euell is grateful that Charlton recognised the advantages of having him take time away from the club, not just with England but in allowing him to complete his UEFA Pro Licence.
The course meant Euell missing the occasional U23 game but he believes it has been invaluable in terms of preparing him for a future career in senior management.
"With the Pro Licence, that is where the coaching stops. It is geared towards management and working relationships. It helps you understand the boardroom and managing upwards. It helps you understand what it is going to be like as a manager at first-team level.
"They bring different people in who work in different stress environments. We have the air ambulance come in and talk to us. We had someone from the fire department who dealt with Grenfell come in. We had a guy from the army talk about Afghanistan.
"It is about dealing with high-pressure situations. Of course, being a manager is not as important as those jobs but you do have people shouting at you so it is about how you stay calm and make good decisions rather than letting your emotions get the better of you."
Management seems the obvious next step. After eight years at Charlton, Euell accepts there might be a perception that he has been in his U23 role for too long. But he has been headhunted for jobs and is open-minded if the right opportunity comes along.
"When I went into coaching, the ambition was to get to the top," he explains. "That is what I wanted to do as a player and I was able to do it. That is where I see this leading too.
"I feel I have done it the right way in terms of the progression and the pathway.
"Nobody can say I have not got that qualification or this qualification. The only thing that can be thrown at me now is that I have not got the experience. Well, give me the chance to have that experience. That is the next step for me now."
He would surely be a good appointment. As well as the qualifications and the experience, his contacts having worked with some of England's best young players could be invaluable.
And any suggestion that his lengthy stint as a development coach might have somehow dulled his appetite for winning football misunderstands Euell's approach to the game.
"We have won cups. We have won back-to-back league titles. We are not here just to take part. People misconstrue it when they talk of winning or developing. It is about winning because winning aids your development - that is what first-team football is all about."
A modern manager then. But one who has not forgotten those lessons learned long ago.