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Watson Speaks

Watson Speaks

James Robson talks to Forest goalkeeping coach Dave Watson about his career with Forest and hopes for the club this season

With his boyish looks Dave Watson looks young enough to a member of the Forest squad rather than part of the back-room team.

That's because he is.

At 32, Forest's new goalkeeping coach would still be playing if not for a knee injury that brought the curtain down on a promising career.

The former Barnsley stopper had not long finished his first season in the Premiership when all hopes of returning to the top flight vanished.

He can still remember the Tuesday night in 1998 when he started what proved to be his final first team game.

'It was against Norwich City,' he said. 'I made a save and by the time I tried to get up I couldn't move properly.

'I ended up sheering the inside of my knee. I had no cartilage and it was just bone on bone.

'You have all the latest technology, but because there's nothing in there I just have holes on the surface because of the impact. I couldn't carry on - my knee wouldn't allow it.'

After almost three years attempting to salvage his career Watson finally called it a day in 2001. He was only 27 and had not even reached his prime.

One season in the Premiership with Barnsley whetted his appetite for more success, but at such a young age Watson, had to come to terms with the end of his career and focus on what to do with the rest of his life.

'I played for a few years and you hope you could play in the Premier League permanently,' he said. 'You can't look back with ifs and buts. I've had to move on and establish myself in a new career and it's one that I love and one that I've got a lot to offer.

'From 18 to 24 I was focused on being a professional footballer. I spent a couple of years trying to rehabilitate so I had time to come to terms with what was happening.

'Then you look at other avenues and I got good advice from friends and coaches. I did my coaching badges and eventually got my reward, which was to end up at a fantastic club like Nottingham Forest. It's a great opportunity.'

Colin Calderwood was quick to snap up the services of Watson after giving him his first chance at Northampton.

It shows how highly he regards him, ensuring he was in place before setting his sights on the transfer market.

Indeed Watson played a pivotal role in Calderwood's only signing to date - recommending goalkeeper Paul Smith to the Forest manager.

And both Calderwood and Watson's judgement have proved sound with Forest keeping three clean sheets in as many games this season.

As he proved at Northampton last season, Calderwood intends to build his success from the back - and crucial to that was the acquisition of his trusted goalkeeping coach.

And Watson is grateful for the opportunities he has been given.

'I know he could have brought other people to Northampton, but he gave me the chance,' he said. 'Over that time, he saw enough to ask me to come here.

'We've got a fantastic working relationship, he's one of the brightest young managers in the game.

'He's so forward-thinking. He really deals with the players. When he offered me the chance to come here I was very keen to work with him again because I know the kind of man he is and what he can achieve for this club.'

Watson is very much the baby of a relatively young coaching set-up, on the whole, with Calderwood, 41, David Kerslake, 40, and Ian McParland, 44.

But Watson believes it points to an exciting future for Forest.

'It is a young and dynamic staff, starting out and wanting to be successful,' he said. 'It's player-orientated and bringing new ideas to the table.

'Hopefully we will get a long time to establish ourselves and be successful at it.

'With me being quite young, I get a good relationship with the keepers I work with and we can maybe have a closer relationship with them than maybe someone who is a bit older. I know what they are going through because I had those experiences recently.

'At least there is some kind of empathy between us.

'Some see it as an advantage, some see it as a disadvantage. To me it makes no difference. If you are a good coach there is no difference if you are 60 or 20.

'But maybe my age will give me a better understanding and relationship with the goalkeepers.

'If you are going to have any success you've got to be solid at the back.

'If you concede goals it is always going to be difficult. When you start chasing games you're more open to counter attacks, so if you can have that solid platform at the back you've always got a chance of winning games because we've got some quality players.'

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Writer:
Date:Thursday August 17 2006
Time: 3:12PM

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