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Lee Johnson appointed new India U-19 national coach

Stephen Constantine and Lee Johnson

Stephen Constantine and Lee Johnson

The cabin door wasn’t fully shut when you decide to knock. You had gone in wanting to greet National Coach Stephen Constantine but instead you get to greet another gentlemen as a bonus – the India U-19 Head Coach, Lee Johnson, also the Head Scout for the Senior National Team.

Lee comes to India with a repertoire of experience which is quite exceptional given his age (34). Prior to landing in ‘Incredible India’ Lee was working as the Technical Director of Rwanda where he was also the Head Coach for the U-17 National Team.

Where were you prior to that, you enquire.

“I worked with the Chelsea FC Academy for six years and also at the Crystal Palace FC Academy for five years.”

Constantine feels Lee’s presence will immensely boost “player development in India.”

“Lee brings a whole lot of valuable commodities with him. What we require is a full understanding of how young players need to learn. Lee has been fortunate enough to work for two big clubs in England and has also had the opportunity to witness top football coaches in action,” he tells AIFF Media.

“In addition to his duties as U-19 National Coach, he will also be the National Team Scout and the Assistant Coach, National Team. We have worked together in Rwanda and have known each other for the last three or more years and his value addition will be immense.”

You turn to Lee and he mentions about the summer heat. “I am happy to be here and I’m thankful to the AIFF for giving me this wonderful opportunity. I am looking forward to working with Stephen and everyone involved within the federation to help develop football in the country.”

“In such a big country you need to find them in order to further enhance the National Team squads. I will be travelling to Hero I-League matches and also youth games to identify potential players for the future,” he says.

“If we don’t look we don’t find,” he hits it on the head.

“We need to make sure that everyone understands what we are trying to do, and it’s all for the benefit of Indian football. We have got the potential to do good things and be successful.”

The silent revolution which Indian football is going through at the moment benefits the players the most. In fact, many a generation would be jealous of them where the present crop of players has the privilege of training first under Nicolai Adam from where they graduate to train under Lee and eventually Constantine.

The next step which the sport in the country has been waiting for so long is being set for the generation to supersede everyone and travel overseas to make a mark, maybe even in Europe.

Lee who was in Pune to watch the U-19 I-League will be based in Goa. “The AIFF U-19 boys resume training on 25th (May 25, 2015). We would be working primarily for the AFC U-19 Qualifiers later this year and look forward to playing in the U-19 Championship which would help us prepare for the competition.”

(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)