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I want to be a success in dugout like my dad, says Dean Shiels


Fond memories: Dean Shiels celebrates Gers’ Scottish Championship title triumph in 2016 with Jason Holt
Fond memories: Dean Shiels celebrates Gers’ Scottish Championship title triumph in 2016 with Jason Holt

By Steven Beacom

Dean Shiels smiles as he hears the question. The former Northern Ireland star is about to jump into the mini-bus ferrying him and others to another session on their Uefa B Coaching Licence course in Belfast.

We are talking about the possibility of him entering management one day.

"Like father, like son?" I ask, referring to his dad Kenny, who has made a successful career out of being in the dugout.

Shiels Snr has bossed all over the UK from Carrick, Coleraine, Ballymena and Larne in the Irish League to Kilmarnock and Morton in Scotland. He's also shone in charge of the Northern Ireland Under-17 side and is still highly regarded at Tranmere where he coached the youth teams.

Today, Kenny is the main man at Derry City. Dean will join him there as a player next month.

In reply, Shiels Jnr says: "I hope so. If I can do as well as my dad I'll do alright."

The former Hibs and Rangers ace is 33. With his natural talent he still has much to offer on the pitch, so why enrol on a coaching course at this stage?

"I'm looking to the future," he says. "I want to stay in the game. Football has given me a lot and I want to try and give something back, especially in Northern Ireland. I want to try and help, whether that's younger kids or older kids or first-team players."

Shiels, having left Scottish Championship club Dunfermline at the end of last season, admits the course has taken him out of his comfort zone, but he is enjoying working with the IFA staff, including Coach Education Manager Nigel Best who was part of the coaching team when a Shiels-inspired Northern Ireland Under-19 side beat Brazil in the Milk Cup.

"I've known Nigel for a long time. I worked with him for the youth teams and Under-21s with Northern Ireland, and we were talking the other day about when we beat Brazil. It's great to work with him again and his staff," said Shiels.

"When you are a player you are not thinking about how a coaching session is planned. You take it for granted. The course has been a big learning experience. I've been out of my comfort zone and been put in situations that I haven't been used to but I've really enjoyed it."

Shiels' final season in Scottish football was dominated with headlines about him receiving appalling abuse from opposition fans and players from Falkirk.

Falkirk players Joe McKee and Kevin O'Hara were suspended after being found guilty of taunting the Magherafelt man about his missing eye during a Challenge Cup match in October, and then Falkirk fans threw fake eyeballs onto the pitch in a January fixture between the sides. Both incidents led to condemnation.

What Shiels has come through in his life to become an international and highly valued club player should be treated with respect, not abuse.

When he was eight, a domestic accident led to the loss of his sight in one eye, and 12 years later Dean had the eye removed yet went on to enjoy a fine career.

He's not one to bring the abuse up, but when quizzed about it he said: "I've dealt with that sort of stuff my whole career. It is not nice, but it is more difficult for the people around me, like family and friends. It's part and parcel of modern day society. I just had to get on and do my job.

"I just want to play football because I love the game and that's what I've tried to do."

He may have left Dunfermline, but he intends to follow events in Scotland and has interesting views on two of his former clubs, Rangers and Hibs, and their bosses Steven Gerrard and Neil Lennon.

"It's great that Steven Gerrard has become the Rangers manager," states Shiels. "It's fantastic for Scottish football. He's a breath of fresh air. He had a brilliant playing career and I feel he can galvanise Rangers.

"There has been a lot of negativity surrounding the club and hopefully he is the one to make things positive."

On Hibs, where he started out in Scotland, Shiels adds: "Neil Lennon has done brilliantly with Hibs. I'm not sure he has been given enough credit for what he has achieved there. He has sort of gone under the radar a bit.

"Hibs should be fighting for that second or third spot and Neil has got them to that point very quickly. Hopefully they can continue that form next season."

Belfast Telegraph


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