Speaking exclusively to Merseysportlive, Everton Under-18s coach Paul Tait talks about providing a pathway for the future generation of players, his own journey and the impact of Everton legend Leighton Baines embarking on his own coaching career.
By Jack Hatton
Being let go from Everton at a young age is something the now Under-18s head coach Paul Tait knows too well.
After being released by the Blues by the time he reached 21, there couldn’t be a much better person to nurture the next generation of players, perhaps why he’s been in the job for the best part of a decade.
After a well-travelled playing career, the prospect of being a coach was always an inevitability.
After yoyo-ing between league and non-league football, Tait was already delving into the world of coaching.
“I came out of the league at 21, I played non-league and in that three and a half years, I actually ran a soccer school in Liverpool,” he recalls.
“When I signed for Crewe in the Championship, I then started coaching with Crewe.
“So, I’d play on the Saturday in the first team and then I’d coach the U14s on a Sunday so from very early on I was involved in coaching.”
Soon after permanently hanging up his boots, the Toffees were keen to recruit his services having a vast coaching and playing career under his belt side by side.
Now, the 47-year-old is a familiar face around Finch Farm and has played a pivotal role in the development of young players at the football club.
The swings and motions of being a youth player at any club can be a bitterly unforgiving environment, particularly on a young person, in the infancy of their career but also life in general.
— Everton Academy (@EvertonAcademy) January 25, 2022
This is something the youth coach has of course experienced and tries to use that to educate the players he takes under his wing.
“There might be the odd player that has that [upwards] trajectory but more often than not there’s lots of ups and downs.
“So we try and help the players and educate them around dealing with that and the attitude of never giving up because you never know in football, things can change if you do the right things and have the right mentality.
“So, I think that’s something that’s rubbed off on them and something I try and share with the players.”
Someone who has had arguably a polar opposite experience is Everton legend Leighton Baines.
The former England international played 347 times for the Evertonians and has, this season been helping with the younger players to launch his own coaching career.
The dependable left-back, who has the most assists for a defender in the Premier League, has tried to pass on his expertise to the younger players.
“In terms of a role model for the players, he’s been fantastic.
“He isn’t just a very good ex-player, he is now a fantastic coach.”
There’s no doubt, with the likes of Ross Barkley, Tom Davies and now Anthony Gordon all graduating through the academy that characters like Tait are crucial for young footballers to make their leap into the pinnacle of English football.