To remain in the beautiful game and make a living for such a long period of time is counted as one of his most successful things he did in his football career.
Cork man John Andrews had a great football career as a player and equally as successful as a coach, and having just been appointed womens Head Coach at Vikingur he counts himself blessed to still be involved in the game at such a high level.
“The stats on players being released by clubs and never playing again are frightening, and I feel we can address this and hold on to a lot of talented youngsters who just simply quit because one team tells them “No”,” said Andrews.
“In 2010, I got offered the professional women’s coaching job in the Premier League in Iceland, and I saw that as my pathway to “getting out” of playing, as I’m sure most older pro’s will tell you is a very painful occupation in the final years of your career. I have had a lot of success as a player but for me I always felt I got the most out of the tools given to me, and although I had championships, promotions and personal accolades, I would say the most successful thing I ever did was remain in this amazing game, making a living for such a long period of time.”
Andrews started out with Ringmahon Rangers and through playing regularly in the Irish underage teams, he was spotted by a host of clubs, and eventually chose Coventry City where he had his apprenticeship and started his professional career. He then moved on to Mansfield Town, but also had spells at Cork City, and Cobh Ramblers, before heading to the USA to get involved in the college game over there. He then returned to playing professionally in Iceland with Afturelding, where he spent six years playing and coaching before retiring officially in 2013. The reason he finished was that he had always wanted to go into coaching – even from a young age he was a student of the game, and he was coaching a lot in Iceland. Here he tells us about his experience and love of coaching.
“I started coaching club teams in America in 2004 just to make a few quid. And that’s exactly what it was – a FEW quid. I was offered the assistant coaches’ job at Martin Methodist College in 2005 and jumped at the chance to work with some top female talent that had just come off a National Championship win, and duly won the title again in 2007. I was spotted by Gareth O’Sullivan in Daytona Beach at the Nationals and became his assistant with the women’s team at Afturelding in the Icelandic Premier league in 2008, head of the men’s academy, and head of strength and conditioning for the club, so I was a busy boy. I was lucky enough to develop many youth internationals during this time, both male and female, and was offered the job as head women’s coach in 2010. At the time, Icelandic women’s football was one of the most decorated leagues in European football and I jumped at the chance. We managed to stay in the Premier league all four years I was head coach and develop some terrific senior and underage international players. I felt that in 2014 I needed a new challenge and after a brief time with UCC, I left to work in India with the Liverpool International Academy and DSK Shivajians in the Indian I-league. I was assistant manager and head of strength and conditioning there, and after a history making league and cup campaign, the owners went bust and I left. I returned to Iceland in 2018 and in 2019 won the two Dield championship with Volsungur. I was offered the job down in Reykjavik with Vikingur as head Coach in Nov 2019 and I am just finishing up our Pre-Xmas training block and coming home for the Xmas in a couple of days.” For the 41 year old, family means a lot, and been home and catching up with his loved ones and seeing how great everyone is doing, means life easier when so far away.
“I love Cork, and if I’m honest, I miss it every day. My nephew Cathal Heffernan is forging his own path now with the Ireland U15s, and my nieces are growing up so fast that its mind blowing. We are a really close family, I’m sure you see that with Marian and Rob. I miss all that, and I will admit it isn’t easy to get home. I’ve been to Dublin 10/11 times this year and only to Cork once. I’d be back in Cork/Ireland in a heartbeat if the right job arose at the right time.” Having someone like Andrews with his experience back in Cork would be great. Can we see this happening in the near future?
“I spent a lot of coffee hours with Neale Fenn over my holidays and we spoke about coming home but the logistics just weren’t right at that time so it couldn’t happen. Never say never though, Cork is home and I’m sure I’ll be back someday, when I decide to grow up.”