Rotherham United: Millers land coach who helped the boy Rooney

Andy Holden
Andy Holden

Francis Jeffers, Leon Osman, Jack Rodwell and a certain Wayne Mark Rooney.

All England internationals whose progress from the Everton youth ranks to the Goodison Park senior side was shaped, in part, by the same man.

New Rotherham first-team coach Andy Holden.

The 53-year-old may not be a household name himself, but some top players owe him a debt of gratitude.

“When you look at the number of quality youngsters he helped to bring through at Everton, it’s a really impressive roll call,” said Alan Stubbs, the Millers manager who has brought Holden to AESSEAL New York Stadium.

You can add another England cap, Michael Ball, plus Tony Hibbert and Victor Anichibe to the mix as well.

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney

“Andy had been my coach late in my playing career at Everton,” Stubbs recalled. “I went into the coaching side of things when I finished as a player and he really looked after me.

“I was working with the under-21s and he gave me the freedom to coach. He was great as a boss. He was my boss and now I’m his. We have a long history together.

“It’s a close relationship. He has great knowledge and experience and he’s someone to bounce things off.”

Holden was at Everton for almost 20 years, 11 of which were under that tough, driven taskmaster, David Moyes, who rated him then and remains a fan to this day.

Francis Jeffers

Francis Jeffers

As Stubbs says: “You don’t work alongside someone like that for that long if you don’t offer something.”

When Stubbs left the Everton coaching set-up to become manager of Scottish side Hibernian two seasons ago, one of the first calls he made was to the man who had been his mentor at the Premier League outfit’s Finch Farm training complex.

The pair duly had two years of success together north of the border, culminating in Hibs lifting the Scottish FA Cup in May for the first time in 114 years.

So when he Stubbs left the Edinburgh side to join Rotherham, he reached for the phone again.

Jack Rodwell

Jack Rodwell

After last Thursday’s appointment, the trio who twice came close to taking Hibs to the Scottish Premier league - Stubbs, Holden and assistant manager John Doolan - is back in tandem in South Yorkshire and looking forward to the start of the Championship campaign next month.

They met their new charges for the first time on the day of Holden’s arrival when the Millers squad reported to the club’s Roundwood training base for the start of pre-season training last Thursday.

On a day of morning and afternoon sessions, much of the work - stretching and mobility in the morning, running in the afternoon - was handled by fitness coach Paul Warne.

“For the first few days, Warney will play a big part,” said Stubbs. “He’ll be building up the players’ core base of fitness with his programme, and we’ll get involved in the ballwork. They’ve had their first touch of the ball already.”

Stubbs took charge on June 2 when the players were halfway through their end-of-season break.

“It was good to get working with them, good to put a face to a name,” he said. “I’ll be speaking to every player individually over the coming days.

Leon Osman

Leon Osman

Holden, like Stubbs, was a centre-half in his own playing days, an uncompromising customer, with an eye for a set-piece goal, who won one cap for Wales.

In an injury-blighted career, he played 100 league matches for Chester City and 49 for Wigan Athletic, but his most memorable games came with Oldham Athletic in 1990 when they were in the old Division Two.

They reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup and Holden was a starter in both matches against Manchester United as Alex Ferguson’s side prevailed in extra time in a replay.

After a 3-3 draw on April 8, the Latics went down 2-1 three days later in front of 35,005 fans at Maine Road when Mark Robins snatched a 114th-minute winner.

He doesn’t look for the limelight, so you won’t see him quoted much. The talk at Hibs, where he watched games and missed nothing from the stands, is of a quiet public figure who commands huge respect.

But the players will know what he’s thinking.

Stubbs, appropriately, summed him up in Holden’s own style.

“No-nonsense. Straight-talking.”

Click here for the inside view on new boy Anthony Forde

Pre-season training

Pre-season training

Alan Stubbs

Alan Stubbs