LONDON: Former Liverpool and England goalkeeper David James says lockdown has given him plenty of time to indulge in his passion for art and also plot a move into management.
The 49-year-old, capped 53 times, cut his managerial teeth with Kerala Blasters in south India, but now believes it is time to look closer to home.
James, whose father is Jamaican, is impressed by the Premier League’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement and England forward Raheem Sterling’s comments about under-representation in coaching roles amongst the BAME community, although as a lover of statistics, he admits the situation is complicated.
“Solely looking at Raheem’s comments, I think someone has to be looking into opportunities that are available,” James told Reuters.
“It’s not just saying there are 92 clubs and 92 jobs available, so there should be X amount of positions available for Black or Asian coaches. The question is how many qualified coaches from that community are there?
“The British population, it’s something like 15 or 20 per cent non-white. So, like for like in football, would you expect around 15 or 20 in coaching positions in football?
“I’m not sure the data exists but how many qualified coaches are there to fill those roles? Out of those how many actually go for those positions?
“I’m a Pro Licence holder and I’m now considering looking for jobs with regards to management in English football, whereas I haven’t in the past. I might be one of those statistics that hadn’t applied for something.”
James was a player/coach at Icelandic club IBV Vestmannaeyjar under former Portsmouth team mate Hermann Hreidarsson and obtained his UEFA A Licence during a spell on the coaching staff at Luton Town.
He then managed Kerala Blasters in 2018.
“I’ve been offered jobs in Asia but now I fancy putting myself forward for a job in England because my world has changed. COVID has given me time to think about things.
“We need to formulate what the right plan is going forward. But in any industry you want the best people in the job, irrespective of background.”
James, who made 572 Premier League appearances in spells with Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham United, Manchester City, and Portsmouth, says he is happy the momentum behind Black Lives Matter has continued in England.
“The difficulty with the BLM issue is that there are a lot of voices, lots of people have different values as to what it means,” James said. “Changing is a process, it doesn’t get done in five minutes. What I like about the Premier League is they didn’t just stop after two weeks.”
James is full of praise for Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp who has just delivered their first league title for 30 years.
“He’s transformed the way the club is run. When I’ve been to Melwood (training ground) since he’s been there, everyone from the kitchen staff to the coaches and players … (are) on the same page. There’s a sense of equality I didn’t experience when I was there.”
When not planning his return into football, James has used his artistic talents to create a pin design for #PinYourThanks – an initiative allowing people across the UK to give thanks for the work of NHS and frontline staff during the pandemic.
James’ pin design features an eyeball with the rainbow colours that have become synonymous with the times.
“I’ve a couple of sisters working in the NHS, my mum was a nurse, my dad worked for the ambulance brigade so it’s really close to me. It’s a privilege to be asked to design something,” James said. “I have put a forgot-me-not in the middle of the pupil. Because it’s not just about COVID, it’s forever.”