Great Scott! Shulton lands coaching role with Rangers

SCOTT SHULTON admits that if he had his way, he wouldn't be a rising star in the football coaching world at all.

Because if things had gone according to plan, the Queens Park Rangers youth development coach would be enjoying the superstar lifestyle of a Premier League footballer.

The 23-year-old Londoner was wholly dedicated to becoming a professional footballer, a path that led him through the Watford academy and onto the books at League Two side Wycombe Wanderers, where he was handed a one-year-contract at the age of 18.

But that moment turned out to be the highlight of his career and, after being released, a move into the non-leagues with Ebsfleet United and Braintree Town, with whom he won the Conference South title in 2011, followed.

However, by 2011, the former Jews Free School pupil already knew what he would do next.

"I needed to sort myself out with a life and a job so when the Professional Footballers Association presented me with the chance to do my UEFA B licence, I jumped at the opportunity," Scott said.

And he's been making progress ever since.

"I managed to get a good coaching job at Barnet in 2013, which I was really excited about, and I was ready to settle down there for a few seasons," he said.

"But after four weeks, QPR came in, which really took me by surprise.

"I was settled in Barnet and ready to earn my trade, but when such a big club took notice of me I wanted to grab the opportunity."

Before Barnet and Championship side QPR, Scott studied the art of coaching at both the European Maccabi Games and worldwide Maccabiah Games.

In 2011, he led the under-16 team at the European Maccabi Games and was then named head coach of the under-18s at last summer's Maccabiah Games.

"The European Games was a watershed moment in my professional life," Scott explained.

"I had just won the Conference South with Braintree and I had the chance to play in the Conference Premier League, which is a good standard where some of the games are on television.

"But that was a make-or-break summer for me, I wanted to concentrate on coaching so I went to Vienna to work with the under-16s at the European Games.

"Braintree weren't happy, but at that stage I knew I wanted to coach.

"I really miss playing football, but I've used my playing to my advantage to learn coaching skills.

"I miss the buzz, but there is a different satisfaction that I get from coaching.

"It's great when you see a player you've worked with executing the skills we've practised.

"By the end of my playing career I had kind of fallen out of love with playing and I knew I wanted to coach."

And he believes the Maccabi Games are improving in intensity "with every edition".

He continued: "There are a lot of players, but there is much more to come.

"The Maccabi Games changed my life in many ways and it's important to get good players involved.

"QPR let me go to Israel last summer, but I don't know about Berlin in 2015, the head coach position is still open, but I haven't really looked into it."

Scott is a rarity: a British Jew involved in football.

Shrewsbury Town's Joe Jacobson and Reading's Nick Blackman are the only British Jews plying their trade in the professional leagues and the dearth of coaches is staggering.

So how does Scott view the situation?

"A lot of the problems are down to upbringing," the West Ham United fan remarked.

"It takes a lot of dedication and effort to make it in football and it's vital you have the support and full backing of your parents.

"I think many parents prefer their kids to go into safer career choices because the money in football at the lower levels isn't great at all.

"Many people tend to underestimate just how difficult it is to make it in the game and it's only the very, very best who make it.

"There is absolutely no reason why more Jewish players and coaches shouldn't come through. It's down to a lack of hunger.

"I didn't go to university because I wanted to pursue my dream.

"Thankfully I was blessed with a good education and I can always pursue that path (university) later in my life."

The former central midfielder has recently spent some of his time organising inter-Jewish school tournaments across a range of sports for all age groups so perhaps he is best placed to comment on football's fight against antisemitism.

"Generally, there is a lot of work to do, although it's getting better," Scott said.

"Sadly, there are narrow-minded people in the world and because they aren't educated enough to say anything else, they will spew bile.

"It's got a lot better, but there is still so much not seen by the public.

"So we must focus on dealing with it and managing antisemitism accordingly when it happens."

Scott also defended English coaches and clubs from attacks on the quality of the coaching available to players and insisted there was more to come from young coaches.

"We are getting a lot better at producing young coaches in this country and the new Elite Player Performance Plan has helped us massively at QPR," he explained.

"The potential for coaches is there, but when you compare the figures with other European countries, we have fallen way behind and we need to address that."

Scott has applied to do his UEFA A licence and will find out in February if he can do the course, yet he is philosophical about his coaching future.

"It's a cliché, but I never would have believed two years ago that I'd be coaching at QPR," he said.

"I've been helped by working under the managers that I have done and they give me plenty of advice,

"I'm lucky enough to speak with Peter Taylor quite a lot and the first team staff at Aston Villa were all with me at Wycombe.

"I also have the support staff at QPR, they really push me to get on courses as well as improving the players in the academy."

And he hasn't give up playing football totally, either.

"I play futsal for Maccabi in the Southern Premier League and I've been called up to the England developmental squad," he said.

"QPR really push it and it's been a fantastic way of learning new techniques and passing them onto the players.

"My philosophies are evolving all the time and I'm learning new methods and styles."

© 2014 Jewish Telegraph