Tuesday, 23 Jul 2024

Jon Stead: Professional Football Player & Coach

With an impressive career playing at the highest level and for notable clubs such as Blackburn Rovers, Sheffield United, and Bradford City, Jon Stead has been scoring goals since his debut for Huddersfield Town in 2002. Currently playing in League Two with Harrogate Town FC, Stead reflects on his successful career and discusses his future aspirations in a recent chat with Sascha Gustard-Brown.

Background and Career Journey

Stead’s journey in football began later than most, with his interest in the game piquing at around 10 or 11 years old. After finishing school, he joined the Huddersfield Academy and quickly progressed to the first team due to the club’s financial difficulties. Playing for his hometown club was a dream come true for Stead, and he cherished the opportunity to represent the club. From there, his career flourished as he played for various clubs across the country.

Return to Huddersfield Town

Stead’s return to Huddersfield Town in 2013 was a special moment for him. While the club had changed significantly, with many new staff members, it felt like a second debut. Although his time there didn’t go exactly as planned, Stead still managed to score a memorable winning goal against Leeds United in a derby match.

Premier League Debut

Making his Premier League debut with Blackburn Rovers was a whirlwind experience for Stead. Within a week, he went from playing in the old Division 3 to starting in a Premier League match. Despite not fully comprehending the magnitude of the moment at the time, Stead had a remarkable start, scoring on his debut and again in the following game. This initial success filled him with confidence and the belief that he was destined for greatness. However, he soon realized that success in football requires perseverance and mental strength.

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Mental Struggles in Football

Stead acknowledges the mental strain that comes with being a football player. When he started his career, there wasn’t much support available for players facing mental challenges. The constant scrutiny from the media can also contribute to negative effects on a player’s mental health. It’s important to remember that behind the headlines, football players are human beings with emotions and vulnerabilities.

Adapting to Changes

Throughout his career, Stead experienced the challenges of adapting to changes such as new managers and moving to different clubs. These transitions can either provide opportunities for growth or setbacks. For Stead, it often meant moving on to a new club if he felt he wasn’t getting enough playing time. He emphasizes the importance of feeling valued and wanted in a team for mental well-being and optimal performance.

Retirement and Future Plans

At almost 38 years old, Stead recognizes that retirement from professional football is on the horizon. He has started planning for the future by pursuing coaching licenses and enrolling in football management courses. Stead is interested in working abroad and experiencing different football cultures once he hangs up his boots. However, he intends to take some time for personal reflection before committing to a full-time coaching role.

Jon Stead Striker Academy

Stead is also the head coach of the Jon Stead Striker Academy, which focuses on position-specific coaching. He believes that coaching by individuals who have played in the same position can provide invaluable insights and enhance players’ skills. Although the academy is currently on hold due to the pandemic, Stead plans to resume its operations in the future.

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The Jordan Sinnott Foundation Trust

Besides football, Stead is actively involved with the Jordan Sinnott Foundation Trust. The organization honors the memory of Jordan Sinnott, a former football player who tragically passed away at the age of 25. The trust focuses on helping children gain access to sports, supporting the homeless, and distributing football shirts to vulnerable individuals worldwide.

Advice for Youngsters and Retiring Players

Stead advises young players to work hard, be open, but also have alternative plans in case their dreams in football don’t materialize. For retiring players, he suggests planning early, gaining coaching qualifications, and staying involved in the game in various capacities such as coaching, media, or grassroots/community football.

Jon Stead’s career highlights may not include medals and trophies, but his longevity and contributions to the clubs he played for are something he takes great pride in. He cherishes memories such as his debut for Huddersfield Town, the promotion with Harrogate Town, and his goals in the Premier League. Stead’s career serves as a testament to hard work, perseverance, and the importance of mental well-being in the world of professional football.


FAQs

Q: How did Jon Stead start his football career?
A: Stead began his football journey in the Huddersfield Academy and later broke through to the first team. The financial difficulties the club faced at the time provided a fast-track route for academy players like Stead to play for the first team.

Q: What were Jon Stead’s feelings when he made his Premier League debut?
A: Stead’s Premier League debut with Blackburn Rovers was a whirlwind experience. He had gone from playing in the lower divisions to starting in a Premier League match within a week. Although he didn’t fully comprehend the magnitude of the moment, his initial success gave him confidence.

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Q: How does Jon Stead approach changes in his career, such as new managers or moving to different clubs?
A: Stead believes that changes in career can either be opportunities for growth or setbacks. He emphasizes the importance of feeling valued and wanted in a team for mental well-being and optimal performance. If he’s not getting enough playing time, Stead chooses to move on to a club where he feels wanted and needed.

Q: What are Jon Stead’s future plans after retirement?
A: Stead plans to continue his involvement in football by pursuing coaching roles. He has already obtained coaching licenses and is enrolled in football management courses. Additionally, Stead aims to work abroad and experience different football cultures.

Q: What is the Jon Stead Striker Academy?
A: The Jon Stead Striker Academy focuses on position-specific coaching. Stead believes that coaches who have played in the same position can provide valuable insights to help players enhance their skills. The academy is currently on hold due to the pandemic but plans to resume its operations in the future.


Summary

Jon Stead, the professional football player and coach, shares insights into his career journey, mental struggles in football, and plans for the future. From starting his career in the Huddersfield Academy to playing in the Premier League, Stead’s experience highlights the importance of perseverance and mental well-being in the world of professional football. As he approaches retirement, Stead intends to continue his involvement in the game through coaching and pursuing opportunities abroad. Through the Jon Stead Striker Academy and his work with the Jordan Sinnott Foundation Trust, Stead aims to make a positive impact on young players and various communities.