Former Chesterfield goalkeeper Tommy Lee on his first year as a coach at Sheffield Wednesday

Former Chesterfield FC goalkeeper Tommy Lee says he has found his first year coaching at Sheffield Wednesday challenging but “enjoyable”.

Monday, 11th November 2019, 2:43 pm
Former Chesterfield goalkeeper, Tommy Lee, is now a youth coach at Sheffield Wednesday. Picture by James Williamson

The Spireites legend made more than 300 appearances for Town from 2008 to 2017, featuring in two League Two title-winning sides, as well as winning the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in 2012.

Unfortunately he was forced to retire in November 2017, aged 32, due to a shoulder injury.

Lee, who was appointed Wednesday’s youth goalkeeping coach in August 2018, said: “It has been a challenge but it has been really enjoyable up to now and I am really enjoying getting my teeth into it.

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Chesterfield FC at Wembley v Swindon Town. Tommy Lee with Jack Lester

“It is really good, it is not something I thought I had a passion for (development) but it turns out I do which is fortunate.

“Not everyone gets to work in an industry where it is passion as well and I’ve really enjoyed passing on my knowledge to the goalkeepers. We have got some great talent coming through so that makes it a little easier as well.”

More Spireites news: Five Chesterfield FC talking points as Spireites get ready to enter crucial period of seasonLee, now 33, revealed that he appreciates the coaching and managing side of the game more now that he is no longer playing.

“I think I got that insight when I helped Ian Evatt out when he took the Chesterfield job,” Lee said. “That little insight that ultimately you are doing everything you can for these players.

Sheffield Wednesday academy goalkeeping coach, Tommy Lee.

“So sometimes when it is not returned in the way you would like it to be, it can be frustrating and I can absolutely understand why managers lose the plot a little bit.

“I don’t think I have come across a manager who did not do everything in his power to make the players better because ultimately that makes the team better which advances their career. But absolutely I can see why managers get so involved with it and get so upset at certain points.”

The former Manchester United youngster, who was a fans’ favourite at the Proact, received lots of advice when he turned to coaching and one bit of guidance has proved very important.

“I think probably the best advice I was given early on was you can’t be their (players) friends, which was a struggle,” Lee said.

“You go from being one of the lads, you are in the changing room, you are friends with the players, to then soon as you cross that white line there has to be a line with how you interact with them.

“I don’t want that to sound harsh but, there is going to be a time you are critiquing these players and ultimately you might be telling them they are not good enough.

“You have to keep that boundary pretty clear that we will have a laugh together, we will work together, I will do everything I can to ensure you get to the level but there has to be a boundary between players and players, and players and coaches.

“I think that is the best advice I have been given so far and it is definitely something I struggled with at first.”

Lee also spoke about the difficulty of releasing players, adding: “It is difficult but I think no coach would release a player for the wrong reasons; ultimately it is in their best interest at the end of the day.

“Although it might not feel like it at the time because I was in that position myself at 19, I was told I was not good enough to play for Manchester United and you think your whole world has come crashing down.

“But if they can look in the mirror and know they’ve done everything they could then you can’t really have any regrets.”