Following his appointment as the Scottish FA JD Performance School coach for Broughton High School in Edinburgh, we sat down with Keith Wright to talk through his new challenge.
You are a week into the new job now, Keith. How has it been?
It’s a totally new challenge for me and one that I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into. I appreciate the chance I’ve been given to work day to day with some of Scotland’s elite young players. I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen so far and it’s been good to meet a few new faces. From my work with Midlothian council previously I’ve known all about the Performance School programme so I feel very lucky to be working within it now.
As an Edinburgh boy who climbed your way through the ranks as a player, what would the Performance School system have done for your own development?
It would only have helped. If I was a primary seven pupil or someone already within the system, I would see the chance to play football every day as a dream come true. Extra time with the ball can only be a good thing.
In Hearts and Hibs you have two clubs on your doorstep that have shown a real commitment to giving young players an opportunity. That must encourage you?
They’re getting great coaching at the clubs. We just want to complement that with individual training programmes that really focus on their strengths and weaknesses. Hearts and Hibs have been great. All you can ask is that players get an opportunity if they deserve it. From a Performance School perspective, there’s a lot of pride in what graduates like Anthony McDonald and Harry Cochrane have done. Without the two of them probably even realising it themselves, they’re great role models for those trying to follow in their footsteps.
What does a young player need to have now to give them an edge?
It sounds simplistic but, for me, it’s been a real plus that a lot of big names have come out recently stressing the value of hard work. We’ve all seen naturally talented types in the past who have maybe not reached the level they should have because the application wasn’t there. Talent alone will only take you so far. There are difficult decisions and sacrifices to make and I was heartened to read Harry Cochrane say something similar last week, that it had all been worth it for him to score that goal against Celtic.
Not everyone will be lucky enough to replicate what Harry Cochrane has done. Is there a message for those who face a setback or two along the way?
To never give up. I was 21 before I managed to go full-time and, again, Harry mentioned that he’d had a few difficulties along the way in terms of the odd injury or a red card. It’s about keeping your head down and working your way through that. The best example for any young Scottish football fan just now is probably Andy Robertson. There’s a guy who was released at a young age and forced to start again. Now he’s playing every week for Liverpool. The hope is to produce a few more like him.