Hello. What's up, all you read? It's been a bit different today as we look at what it's like to make it in Loughlin Forest. The challenge presents a young man from relative fame and money to trying to make sure your dream is in the short lived one. Do you want me to discuss that as a man who has made the breakthrough and inspired this episode in Lewis McGoogan? Lewis, good afternoon. How are you?
Yeah, not too bad. Thank you.
Good to have you back with us and returning to the podcast is former Forest Academy Director and current Liverpool Assistant Academy Director, nick Marshall to give us the football club and Coach's perspective. Nick, are you well?
I'm good, mate. How are you?
Yes, good to have you both back with us. There's an earlier episode with nick on his Forest career that I'll put in the comments, and more with Lewis as well. Although obviously Lewis is a regular with us, but I'll send people that direction. So like I was saying, Lewis, this episode came about after our live show when you were regaling us with a few stories about your career, some which are repeatable and some which probably aren't on here, and that's fair enough. But it struck me and Greg and Mike, you sat with you, as fans, we don't really understand what it's like to make it as a player. We just see you suddenly appear from the youth team on the pitch and expect you to be brilliant and don't understand when things go wrong. So we're going to try and break that down. What was it like for you, from that personal experience of making your debut and suddenly you were Louis McGoogan, who people knew and they wanted a piece of you? What was that breakthrough like?
Yeah, it's such a long journey to get to that point. And there's so much that happens before that. That is the pinnacle. And that's when it really starts. But the transition, there's no real blueprint. Every player deals with it differently, good, bad. I think you just got to try and deal with it the best you can. There's no right or wrong way. You try your best, you're learning on the job. And it is a complete differences. You can literally be playing in the academy and playing week in, week out and have a little bit of a name and a reputation. But once you play in front of the people and you walk onto that city ground, it's like overnight everything changes and you're now in a big city in a football city, what Nottingham is. When you play for Nottingham Forest, it's literally the spotlight is on you.
Was there a particular example where something was different? I think you mentioned to us, like walking into a pub and people looking at you, which is an obvious one. But out with your mates and people wanting to say hello and stuff like that. Was that the thing where you realised something different was happening here?
Yeah. It's always, like I said, you're around the football club so much and you see the fans and you see the... As growing up, especially the youth team, you see the first team and the attention that they get. So you understand what it is and what will happen. But once that's you and you're experiencing that, it's really strange. There's a few examples and it's always an example that I use. It's like, especially even at the nightlife and going into the city, it's like you go from not really going out and just being one for where you go into a bar or into a club. And at times, it's like the whole club just stands still and everything. It's like the spotlight is on you in the group. And especially when I used to go out with the wheels, a lot of the first team players went out together. So the spotlight is on there. And they're just a few examples of how it completely changes overnight. Luckily enough, then the camera phones and stuff like that and social media, it was just starting to happen. But it's nothing like it is now. And it's just at that point where you see a lot of players, they just get better off staying in and staying indoors because that way you just stay out the limelight and it's probably the best way to deal with it.
Does that ring true for you, nick? Not walking to a bar and the pub stopping when you walk in, but in terms of...
Definitely, it never happened.
In terms of what happened with players you coached at Forest and now at Liverpool, that shock and transition to the first team. Every player is different, but is Lewis's story a familiar one?
Well, certainly that, yeah, absolutely. And it's 100 % right that it is different for each person. But that story just spoke about now, I mean, it's interesting. We just had try and add a chat to our scholars. And then after that, because I knew I was doing this, I spoke to Jay Spiering. And Jay Spiering is a month older than you ou, but a month younger than you, Luke. And he told me almost, it's amazing, almost exactly the same story. He went out for a meal, and this is after making his debut. And suddenly he went from, I mean, nobody really noticed him to Ever tellians spitting at him and calling him this and calling him that. Liverpool fans wanted to speak to him. So it's 100 % something that you almost can't prepare people for that because it's an experience. It's not something you say, Well, this might happen when you do this. You have to experience it. Football is very different now in that they don't really go out. They can't go out. They can't do what the lads used to do. I was still quite young when I first came with Kild & Magic.
So sometimes I'd be out and I'd see the lads out. I'd see the first team lads out and I'd see some of the older 18 and 19 year olds out. You'd be like, Okay, this is interesting. So that doesn't happen anymore. But yeah, it's something that it's very, very difficult to describe. I've not been through it, but speaking to people, they all say the same. It's just a complete turnaround. Jay actually said to me, he said fans miss that although there's an unbelievable massive reward, it's actually quite lonely. It's not normal. And it's difficult, he said.
Did you ever find that loneliness, Lewis? I don't know what support network you had around you, is that something that rings true?
Yeah, I think you can have the best support network around you. I think it still is lonely because at the end of the day, especially when you're coming in and you break into the first team, you have to understand that most people your age are not experiencing anything that you're experiencing. You can't have that normal dialogue. Everything changes. And going through the youth team in the academy, that is all spoke about how things would change and how you can't do things that your friends were doing, leaving that age when you're leaving school and everything. You have to sacrifice so much. So at times you're aware of all, always you're different. And that's the thing. Sometimes people don't say, you're you're different because you have to be different because you have to sacrifice so much to try and be the best you can be. So your life is completely different. But going through them early stages, 17, 18, 19, you've got no life experience in terms of that side. You don't know what to do. The football side is really hard to deal with. I think it's harder when you leave the training ground and you're in that public eye and you're in that normal every day space because that's something that's completely different.
When you're in the football club, you're in an institution, really, and everything's been done for you. You're literally, you train, you're go back to that time, which was the digs, which where the players lived. And you're in between. You're in with everyone else. It's when you have to go on into the normal real world and normal people and that's when it's sometimes hard to function. And sometimes you have to learn from mistakes and you have to learn from experiences how to then deal with the next ones better.
Is that something you have to do at Liverpool? And is this something that is changing the game, nick, that you have to prepare these young men for life away from the training ground as much as making players out of them then?
You can try, but I completely agree with Lewis. And again, Trent's just spoken about it to our players. I think really experiences is the key. You can talk to people in your face. I can sit down with you, Matt, or I can bring somebody from the SAS and he can talk to you about how you have to do this and do that. And this is the run you're going to have to do. And you're going to have to go and do some endurance test and stuff. And you can have a psychological. And to you actually experience that, really none of us have got a clue how that is and how to cope with it. I often say to parents that we deal with now that people don't understand how unique football is for these young kids. I mean, Lew made his debut before he was 18, so he's not even legally an adult at that time. Now, I know I didn't grow up until I was 25. And if I want to be a doctor or a lawyer, it's probably going to take me until 24, 25 to qualify to do that elite job that isn't in the eye of everybody.
These young people are in the eye and doing something that everybody would like to do. In Lew's case, 17. How do you teach somebody to be able to cope with that? It's very, very difficult. Like Lewis has mentioned before, it's a support network around them, but every kid deals with it in a different way. I think it's really difficult and I think it's possibly one of the key defining things that means that some players go on and have careers where they play three of the games like Lewis did, or five of the games. Or there's plenty of experience of people that made the debut in the next big thing and then they fall off the cliff because they can't deal with these things that we're speaking about now. And yes, there's more support now because economies aren't like 5, 10 people like we had. There's 70, 80 people at some clubs or 15, 20 people. So there is more support, but I still think all tomately it's going to come down to the boy's ability to learn from experience, as Louis said, learn from mistakes and then move on, hopefully with some support. But this is a lot harder than people think it is.
People just see kids going playing football think, I could do that. I love playing football. This is a double. And it absolutely is. And I've got so much admiration for these young men.
Going back to loneliness, this is a looser sense of the word, Lewis, but you walk into the dressing room and you're one young kid and I guess you do train with the first team, but now you're a threat to some senior players places. Is that a a lonely position to be in trying to fit in there when they know you're... Some of those players you're gunning for them in a sense.
Yeah, I think that's just the nature of the B Street. I think that as a young player and when I then was lucky enough to play and make my debut and then become a senior player, things like that you remember and you remember the senior players that made sure they know your name. They took the time out to ask you how you was. And you get some senior players that went the different way and they try to bully or intimidate you. And that's just part and parcel of life and something that you've got to deal with. But the ones that try to do it... And normally, I have always spoke about personal experience like Marlon here. Marlon was brilliant around the football club when he was that person. But you always, the ones who have been the ones who have been through that academy process, the ones who have been there, they always realise what is at stake and at that point. And that sometimes always will help and to have even when you end up playing and you're playing week in, week out, to have a change with good senior pros. I think it's really important.
I think back to Nick's point about when we're looking at making your debut at 16, 17, 18 and to deal with all these stuff. I think that sometimes we forget most of the population that people go to university, they go to university to let the head, to have fun and to learn. And they have two, three, four years of doing that. And then it's like, right, okay, now it's time to then look at my career and branch off. And now we can't do that. You don't have that opportunity. As nick said, it's like 17. It's like, right, you're playing in men's football in front of all these people in this spotlight now deal with it. But also I think what people sometimes don't see is that most players that have come through an academy for a long period of time, they never had a childhood. They never had a normal childhood. So to then go from that all then straight into the men's game, which is still not being an adult, really themselves. They've had no time to be a kid and to enjoy life in a certain set of such that. It's just been so serious from that point.
So it's such a tough thing to deal with. I also think, which is a big is the football club that you're coming through. And sometimes it makes difference. And my example is you look at Liverpool, you look at Everton, you look at Swell and Nottingham Forest, the city, that is everything. I f, for example, I went to Watford and no disrespect to Watford, but in London, there's so much going on. You can sometimes go for a blind and you can get up to what you're doing and you can go out and you cannot get bothered and not get really. But in Nottingham and in Liverpool, you're playing for the first team. At times you're God and everyone sees you. So I think sometimes that can have also an added pressure in terms of the football club that you're coming to make your debut for.
Another thing about time, and I'll ask nick about this as well, literal time in the day. You mentioned young kids like to go out, spend their money. If you're a kid who's broken into the first team, you've got a bit of cash in your pocket, but you're only training two hours a day. Is time a bit of a demon in the afternoon in the sense of filling your day and not getting up to no good and not miss... We don't know the Harry Toffalo case inside out, but players can spend their money on gambling and all sorts of stuff. Is that a challenge for a young player as well?
Jay talks about that again. Without specifically asking him, he spoke about that. I do think it has changed now. I think first teams tend to be around a little bit longer. It depends on the culture of the club and really the culture of the club is often driven by the senior pros. Lewis mentioned that as well. I think they're huge. The senior pros in and around the young players are massive. If they're really role models, if they're going to look after the kids, we're very fortunate at this place with the role models up here. The culture is already there. They will be in for training, depends when they are training because they could train at different times now. But it's a lot longer day. But certainly it's still not an eight o'clock till six o'clock days. There's still a lot more time and there's definitely more support now than there was and there's more education now than there was around the different distractions because there are also more distractions now than there were before. Some of those distractions are much easier to access. So I remember, for example, early doors, we had a player who from the academy who ended up playing first in football.
I don't know I had a problem with gambling, but it wasn't a difficult one to spot because it could be Steve Wrigley dragging him out of a betting shop one day and it'd be me driving out of the betting shop the other day. Well, now it can you just do it in the house.
There's a lot more hidden ways to spend your time, not particularly productively, which makes it harder. But the R in around Moore and the spotlight is even higher now than it was then. It was still massive. Losers completely right and not taking Liverpool two cities that are just obsessed with football. It's very difficult to get away with anything. But that player 25, 30 years ago couldn't do what he did now, but he doesn't need to because he just do it online.
Did you find that, Lewis, before you had kids and you were brilliant single, just filling your time and not getting stuck in your own head? Is that a problem?
I think in the terms of the early stages, you don't really know anything different but football. So you'd always try and everything will be around football. I think the big thing, as nick will know, was the digs and where the players lived. I think that was a real big thing. And I think that as a football club that made so many of the players and it got them to grow up quicker and things like that. But after training, instead of then everyone going and doing their own thing, you go into a house and you had a lot of your other teammates, whether it was computer, but everyone was still together. So that time away at that point when I was growing up, sometimes you didn't have it. Back to point, nowadays everyone is doing their different thing and everything is so accessible from a phone. It's so hard to pinpoint these things and try and sometimes stop them. And sometimes as players and sometimes as being in a youth team, you can spot them from your teammates and you can sometimes notice that that doesn't add up or people's behaviour doesn't really sound like it's going in the right direction.
But it's t that point, everyone feels like it's dog eat dog. So if someone's going down that path, that sometimes makes it easier for you to get noticed than being a team. So I think it's a real hard situation to keep on top of. And I think as life moves on, as technology moves on and all these things, I think it's becoming more difficult by the day.
How does a young player let their hair down? I had the question I'd ask fans watching this, fans, we're paying their wages, they should just go out and be completely professional. And I'd say to all those fans, Well, what were you like at 17, 18, 19? How did you let your hair down? They re human beings. They've got to be able to do that somehow. And there's a lot of things that they can't do. All their friends are off doing their bits and pieces and they necessarily can't do that. This is not easy. This is not easy. I know it seems easy and it's, oh, well, they're just playing football, but that's not the case. And like I said, there's been many a player that's not achieved their potential because of these things. And there's players that have achieved the potential and that have really struggled later on in life. Or whether they're still in their playing careers or afterwards as well. It's tough.
And digs still a thing, nick? Do you have them even at Liverpool?
No. And I know at Forest, everybody goes out into house parents. And there's pros and cons of each approach. I guess the approach of having digs. I really liked it most of the time because I'm trying to relax. I'm getting phone calls off one of the, can you come around? I was like, that's a pain in the ass. And it doesn't mean that they can't let their hair down. And they're completely surrounded by the same set of people the whole time. So there were pros and there were cons of it. But I think a.
Big thing with that is, like I said, it's like everything, times have changed. And back then, that was something like that was really now, it's just you can't really want it like that. I know a lot of clubs, if they'd still do it, they'd still do the house housing where one or two lads would go into a family and do it that way. And that also brings sometimes a bit of pressure on on the family who's bringing them in because obviously they're in control of them and they're there to look after them. And like any parent, when you get your child to someone else, you expect them to take full responsibility and take care of them. And like nick said, there's so many pros and cons of it all. You just at that time and that stage in life, that was that the best way to keep under control as much as possible? But I think it's just based on opinions, really.
I liked it because of that, Louis. I liked it because I did know that they were going to be... They might not have been eating it, but they'd be given the right food and they'd be at the right time and all those things. So I liked it in that regard. But I do look back and go, did they miss something out? Did they miss something out childhood wise? As Louis said, this is the kids now are in academics from five years of age. We spoke about this last time. It's a long, long journey. Is there a whole identity formed around football? If you're then going to make it, that might be okay. But I still think even in that case, they need to be kids and they need to let their hair down. I do think that there's a lot of mental health issues around that we have to be careful of as well. So interesting, when you go abroad, the digs thing is very common. Education, digs, football club, go out and then do it again and do it again. And if a few people fall off the wagon because of that, then it's not really a big deal.
Whereas here we're much more aware of safeguarding, mental health, that stuff. But you're always going to get those issues to an extent because it is so difficult.
How much has social media changed things, nick? Because we saw Deli Alley yesterday with his Gary Neville interview. The guys were absolutely pilloried on social media. I felt a bit bad about this, Lewis, because at our live show, someone said, should Forest sign Deli Alley? And we scoffed at it. I did feel a bit bad. N one of us know what goes on behind the curtains. So how much has social media changed things each of these young men about what's written about them, nick, and what they write, they have to be careful about that as well.
It's a sea change. It's a massive sea change. It will be the local paper, wouldn't it? It'd be the evening post. It'd be Radio Nottingham, or it'd be Fletch on whatever it was, whatever it used to be in those days. And they can't go anywhere now because everybody's got a video camera on the phone. They can't. They're not human beings. Everything they do has got to be perfect. And if they're not perfect, it's going to get filmed. It's going to get put on social media. And we can say those old fellows can turn around and go, Why are they even on social media? Perhaps that's a big part of their profile. The Ravens love them on social media. They might even manage their social media account. So I think it's been amazing. It's a sea change. It makes the position even more lonely.
Do you tell them to stay off it? Like you say, it's just such a part of life now.
That's not really found. We wouldn't say to them to stay off it. We would educate them around what it can be used for and we would suggest in terms of what they use it for and a lot of education around what you post on social media. But we would say that to the parents of some of our school boys. You'll see 11 10 year olds with social media profiles like 6 million people on Instagram. We had a boy in our pre academy who was seven or eight years of age. I think we had about 10 million followers. Now, my personal opinion, not necessarily the club's opinion, my personal opinion, I think the club might agree, but it's for them, is that that's madness. Because the pressure you're building up on that young player is enormous. But we can't. We're not their parents.
No, that's not healthy at all. Social media wasn't really around when you were breaking through, but it was around when you were playing regularly in the first team, Lewis. Did that influence you? And also, did the local media wind you up with the player ratings and stuff like that? Did you take all that to heart?
Player ratings previously?
And stuff like that. My throughout my career, nick will know very well my biggest critic was my dad. So I never looked at stuff like that. I always had that opinion of myself. Over the time, I knew if I play well, I knew if I didn't play well. It was that honesty around it. I think some players, sometimes they look at the player ratings and sometimes that can get into the head and stuff like that. In the in, back to Nick's point, I see now and I see some 8, 9, 10 year olds, they've got their own Instagram pages and this and that. From my point of view, I look at it, do I agree with it? No. But I agree from a standpoint, I don't agree from a standpoint of I understand how hard it is to get there. I understand how hard it is to make that journey. And I think sometimes as parents, I think that within the... They're probably sometimes getting on this social media bandwagon, but they're not understanding what they're doing and the pressure they're building up. And the chances of the other end, as harsh as may seem, it's so little that people make it.
It's how then do you deal with that? How then they recover from that? And how can you, as a parent, are you ready to have maybe that conversation and to go through that period of to get them back? Because at that point in time, that's they do. They play football every day. They think about football, they watch football. And then in their head, like my head, like any, is that they want to be professional football. The reality is for so many, it never happens. And can you have that honesty? And can you have that... It's hard as a parent and speaking as a parent because all you want is the best for your children. But sometimes you have to use your experience. And I've said it before, do I want my children to be professional footballers? I'm not going to ever stop them. But also I don't want to push them into that avenue because I understand it. I know what it can do. I know the industry, what it is. I think everyone just sees the cars, the houses, the lifestyle, the publicity. But as you can tell, and lthough, so we're talking about Dele Alli's interview, there's so much Monday to Friday that nobody sees.
There's so much that people are going through. And the biggest thing about football, I always say to people is that... And we have then coming into social media, if that most people, if they have a bad day at work or they have a bad performance at work, once they leave work, no one knows. Nobody knows about it. They can go home, they can be around their friends, they can go out over the weekend. They could have been sacked from their job on the Friday. Nobody knows. If they don't want to take... Whereas in football and in sport, now social media, within an hour, it's other way. So you haven't even digested it, whatever that may be. You haven't even digested it or dealt with it. But everyone else, so everywhere you go has an opinion. And they're only going to have an opinion of what that media story is. Whether that's right or wrong, it's only going to be that side. So straight away, so many people are going to have a perception of a situation that's happened. And it could be totally wrong. But that's the perception they've got of you at that point in time.
So that's when it comes to the lone less where it comes to the point where, do you know what? It's best for me to stay in. It's best for me just to close the curtains, stay in because of that way I can be in control. And that's why you find so many players suffering from the depression and mental health and anxiety because within a football career, you have no real control, especially even more the social media comes in. So at home or in their safe place when it's just them, that's the most place that they feel in control of their life.
How much, nick, can you do to prepare a person for this? I always come back to trent for you because he's such a big player and the level of scrutiny he gets for, can he defend is just insane. We wouldn't get that out of the football clubs. Niko Williams doesn't get that out of Forest, where he does off fans, but not from the media and every Twitter account in the world. How much can you as Liverpool Football Club prepare him or Kurtis Jones or Harvey Elliott? I know he came from different clubs, but how much can you prepare them for all this?
All you can do is you can talk to them about these are some of the things that might happen and you can hope that they have a real strong influence in their life that will get direct in a certain way. And that might be somebody from the club, it might be a parent. Okay? So for Louis, it was his dad. For Trent, it's his mum. The support network, I always think the support network around the player is absolutely vital. The support network has got to be so strong. And if they've got a really good support network, it makes it much easier for them. And I think Trent's been fortunate that he's got an incredible support network around him in that he's got an unbelievable relationship with his mum, his family, a few key members of the football club that it almost provides a bubble around him. But also his personality type is such that helps him. It's easy for him. And I often wonder is, is football now in a situation where there's a certain personality type that can play? So if you think about the types that played in and around the glory years of Forest in '79, '80.
I wonder if those people would actually quite struggle now with all the scrutiny and all the things around them and all the expectations. And they were unbelievable players and maybe they just adapt to it and there's not a problem. Is football producing a type of personality that can cope with all this? Maybe it's that. But I do think we can get as many ex players in as we want to talk about these things to players. What every single ex player tells us when they come in to give a talk to the players to give the benefits of their experiences, they all say, I sat in a meeting like this when I was their age and I didn't listen. And I thought that doesn't apply. It doesn't apply to me. I'll be okay. And it's only when they've gone through it, Louis mentioned it a little bit about the experience, it's only when they've been through the experiences, whether that may be released, whether that may be making a debut, playing in a big game. It's only when they've gone through those experiences that they actually then, Oh, yeah, get it now. So there's loads more support around now.
You've got psychologists around, you've got playa care people, you've got safeguarding people. We've got J. S. Spurin as one of our U team coaches, but as a player coach as well. So he's been there, he's been through the system. We have mentors. We've got Steve McManamin around, we've got John Barnes around, we've got Michael Thomas around, we've got Rob Jones around. Despite all that support, we still have people who when they go and train with the first team struggle or might make three or four games and it doesn't quite work the way that they want it. Maybe that's just because they can't quite reach the level. Maybe it's because they're just a bit unfortunate and the level is so high that there's no pathway for them. Maybe they just struggle with the mental aspect of it. So I do think ultimately it's down to experience and giving them as much help as you can to at least... It's not something new in terms of what they've heard about. But ultimately, like I say, we can sit down, somebody could come in from the SIS and tell me all about the SIS and I can think I know everything about it.
But as soon as I go in, Wow, this is different. It'll be the same in any walk of life. I think you have to experience it and then you have to be really good at learning from that experience. I do think a good support network and really good senior pros when you get up there do make a massive difference, though. We're very fortunate here.
With hindsight, was the support network in place at Forest for Young Kids when you were there and Paul Hart was there? Obviously, the game's changed, society's changed, so you can't judge it by the standards that you had at that time. But now judging it in 2023, do you think, Oh, I wish we had more in place back then?
I think the advantage now is that I think football... Life is about relationships. I think some players here have formed really strong relationships with members of staff who can mentor them. I think Trent would be one of those, particularly with our academy director and the then U team coach, Neil Cribsley. But then I'm not sure if Kurtis Jones really had that. I look back at Forest, I look and go, well, I think Michael Dawson, Jermaine Genis, they probably had that. I think the other players perhaps who didn't form a relationship. So there are more people now in football clubs and academies that if they don't quite click with this one or this one, they can click with this one. So I think that's the advantage now. I am not sure yet whether all the additional full-time staff in the playcare area and the psychology, and we had a full-time psychologist, we had a full-time psychologist when you were there, Louis. Was Chris.
Howard there? No.
Okay, so that'll just be after. So there are more of those type of people around that perhaps have more specific areas of expertise that can potentially help. But have I seen a massive change in terms of... If you look at the ratio of players who get to a position like Lewis, whether that be training with the first team or playing with the first team, those that then go on and have a career and then those that then fail, is there a massive difference in the ratio of that now to then, given all this extra support? Not really. I think it's still about the same.
Maybe there's more support. What there is more support for, though, is as if it doesn't quite go right. For example, here we've got an alumni project where anybody who signed a scholarship become a full-time footballer, whether it's be scholars or first team players, have got access to all these support services. I think that's changed. So I think the after care has definitely changed.
I wanted to ask about money and the influence of money, not specifically for you, Lewis, but in general. Most footballers are working class kids who probably don't have so much money in their pocket. Suddenly, they're making first team wages being at Forest, be it in the... Well, Forest in the Premier now, but Forest in Championship then and Liverpool now. Money can corrupt you in a sense. Other people want your money. Other people want a piece of you. Other people are going to advise you badly. How big a challenge is just dealing with that change in your bank balance in a sense?
Yeah, it's massive. And like I say, we talk about support network, which is key, but it's especially big thing with garden money. It's like there's no... Your parents don't know. It's very hard to then sit at your child that turns around at 17, 18, 19 and right now I'm earning maybe a million pound a year, well, most parents have not earned that money in their life. So it's very hard for them to now say, Right, this is the blueprint. This is the way we need to go about this. They've never experienced money like that. So it's also then when you're looking at it from a child's point of view, it's you've gone through this period of life. Your parents have done every single thing they can to try and help you get to this journey. And you've seen them over the time. You've seen them struggle. You've seen them work two jobs or whatever the different situations are. It's now for then you're at 17, 18, earning more money than your mum and dad combined. How do you then deal with that? How do you then deal with, right, what's the best way to go about it?
I think money is always going to be an issue. It's always going to be a problem in football and where does that come into on that stage? I feel that a big thing from my time and around my time and I haven't got there. When I look at as a youth team, I think there was always a massive difference. I think that as a youth team player, you work money, but at times you didn't earn very good money in terms of what you was actually doing. But then the jump to get to the first team, that was the drive. How can I get there? It's not just all about money, but it was that opportunity of getting to that level, playing in the first team, also changing my life, changing my family's life and creating a different dynamic. I think sometimes now the problem is where's the drive? I think some 17, 18 year olds are earning more than most first team players outside the Premier League. Or where's the drive? By times at Sheffield Wednesday, sometimes I play in the under 23s and they'll be 21, 22 year olds playing and they wouldn't have a care in the world.
And I used to be just like, you've got no ambition because at that point in time, they're getting a good wage. They've got a nice car, they can, as we talk about social media, it's in what they call it's in the bio now, I'm a footballer, everyone thinks I'm a footballer. But they've got no drive. They've got no drive to get to the next level because they've got it all there already. They've got the comfortable. Whereas when I was coming through and prior to that, there was such a jump. It was like, that's where I want to be. And I always say and make jokes about it, and it will have a about the academy and how strict it was and how the rules that was done. And in terms of just little things like make sure you're always tucked in, make sure you're always clean, shave, little things like that, it was just never to wear hats, gloves, nothing like that, joggers. Because, okay, you looked at the first team, you looked across the training pitch and you see now you thought, that's what comes with making that level. All them other stuff, you arrive at that level, you're now playing for the first team and then little things, that's what you've now earned.
Whereas now you see 16 year olds, they're acting like first team players. And that's the point. So when we talk about money, I think it's totally changed in the sense that players can earn so much more without even kicking the football for the first team. So where is the drive? Where is the next stage? Because yeah, okay, you can earn more money, but at that stage, when you're earning substantial amount, yeah, you can earn more money, but it's not that drive. Whereas when I was in the youth team, the difference, as I'm sure nick will elaborate on, the difference was so vast. We was playing in the youth team. That was our job. But at times, and I know it sounds mad, sometimes our friends, what would probably work at Tesco at times, would earn more money than what we were doing playing in the youth team, which some people would think that sounds crazy. But that's what it was because it was a scholarship at that point in time. But it was like, Right, now I want to get to this next level. That's my drive because all these other things come with it.
I don't want it to sound like a worries me conversation when these people can't pay their mortgage and stuff like that. But nick, I'm talking about and Louis is talking about what the money can do to change a person rapidly, I suppose, as well.
No, it's 100 % right, by the way. We were probably at the extreme end in terms of some of those standards and that came really from Paul. I learned that from Paul to a point of even checking kids bank balances, which you could never do now, to make sure they were doing a little bit of saving. And always used to make me giggle because, right, next week I want to see bank balances. And you've got to have said £10 a week over the last that 20 weeks. And suddenly a week before, there was a £200 deposit in the bank that Mum had done because they'd spent it all. You couldn't do any of those things now. Look, if you make it as a footballer, particularly now, you're right. It's an unbelievable lifestyle. I'm sure there are some fans going, Flipping a Cat, I'm just going to pay my mortgage here. Or I have to go to a food bank and these people are moaning about earning all this money. It's really just about the point that it isn't t easy and there is a different side. It's not all cars and parties and all that stuff.
That's not really parties anymore at all. Not many people can cope with that. The finance thing at Lewy's is 100 % correct. We've actually put at our place a wage cap on our young players because we think you can pay them to fail. So what you really basically should describe in there is lots of kids are being paid to fail because they don't need to strive, they don't need to push themselves. And there's 100 % many, many players, U team players at quite a few big clubs that will be earning more money per week than players in the championship and even players at the bottom end of the Premier League. And that is definitely a worry. What I would say is for the parents, it's very, very difficult if you're off with that to say now, because that could be money that buys your child a house and sets it up for life. And if they're sensible about it, it's fantastic. I don't think it does much great or break the other good in the terms of the football. But that's a new thing that's come in in the last 10, 15 years. Even at Forest, we lost players like Patrick Bamford, going from the wages you earned, Luke, a little bit more maybe, but not much more when he was 18 to going to Chelsea and earning probably about 50 times that amount of money.
So it's not a new phenomenon, it's been around for a while, but it's certainly a problem for players. And dealing with that is massive because, again, you come from a working class family, exactly as Lewis has described, in the end, you're earning more money than your family. How do you cope with that? And again, I think that is again, goes back to the relationships you form, whether that be somebody at the club, maybe there's a financial adviser that the club puts in front of a player, maybe there's an agent in the background saying, Well, don't trust that person because they will do it. And maybe they can do it. Maybe the family want to do it. But if that person is really good and has got the kid's best interest at heart, that's huge. Again, I just go back to support network and it might only be one person, it might only be a parent. But the support network around them is absolutely key and it's no different when it comes to finances.
So you don't have 17 year old's throwing Lamborghini's of Liverpool?
That would be a bit of a red flag. You know what? It's fantastic because we have the same rules we used to have at Forest, which is if Paul and then myself saw them driving to that car park with a fancy car, they just got to drive it straight out again. In fact, like Forest, it would be, okay, let's do a little deal here that you can buy a secondhand car for two, three grand and that's okay. But you start driving fancy cars, you're done. And when players here in the past have driven a fancy car round to the first team ground, the manager reinforces it, which is massive. And the first team players.
Have a go at the kids. That is massive as well. What happens when they move on to the first team, the culture around that is hugely important in terms of supporting that kid, in terms of the values they're going to need to play football, not just in terms of the playing, but the stuff off the pitch as well.
I'm conscious of the time. We got about 10 minutes or so left. From listening to you in the pub l oards, I think when Mike, you said you should be like mentor or something like that to players. Is that something that you think the game lacks? Maybe it's not you doing it, but more ex players being a point of contact for young men and trying to help them out, make sure they spend their money wisely, mentor their mentally okay. Is that something the game is lacking, do you think?
Yeah. And it's something that I've looked into and the hardest thing I think now, and I'm sure nick would agree is that there's so much more around these players now. There's so much you can't get near them. There's all these people advising them and all these people trying to help them. But in reality, if they didn't, if they wasn't the player they was and they wasn't destined for this, these people wouldn't be around. They'd just hang us on. And whether that's agencies, whether that's advisors, whatever. But there's so many players, the people now to get into. As I was growing up and nick says about senior players, on my journey, most time, your first Port of Caller, your experience was to go and find a senior pro, was to go and ask a senior pro or senior pro would get hold of you and say this, this, this, maybe do this, do that. Now, these players aren't asking senior pros most of the time. It's their agents or their agency or someone who works for their agency and stuff like this. And that's sometimes the most difficult, I think, moving forward now is that there's so much noise and a bubble around these players.
It's really hard to get into them and get that one on one time.
Not going to ask you if it's right or wrong, because I'm putting you in that position, it's not fair. But do you see more agents more prevalent even in academy levels now than you did when you were at Forest?
Yeah. The proliferation of agents across the game is mad and clubs are part of the a problem because going back to what Louis said about finances that young players are getting. But what really, really worries me, I think we can come with them if they are 16 at woods and there'll be some good ones, some bad ones. But we're seeing agents 9 and 10. They're not allowed to, by the way. It's got to be 16 and above and even that's changing. But they will start to form relationships with kids as young as that, particularly if you've got big social media following. So yeah, it's like any other industry. So I'm not going around after agents here because there's some very good ones. But there's equally, there's more not so good ones because there's so many people. And it's going to roll back a little bit because the FIFA have now made it harder again to become an agent. But there's a lot of people seeing the money in football and going, I love a bit of that, who have got no experience doing it for themselves, just don't know what they're doing really sometimes. And it's really, I think it's quite worrying.
We always speak here, and again, I might have missed this in the last time we spoke, Matt. But we always speak here about a triangle of trust between the club, the player, and the parents. And I think it's often difficult to get that. But if you can get that and keep that triangle really strong and not let too many influences into it, the more chance that the players got. So the more influences, the harder. It's obvious, isn't it? There's more people telling you all different things. And there's some great examples of a really good agent who I know really, really well, having a conversation with one of the ex forest players at the time when he was playing for Forest and doing his best for the kid and trying to help him, but saying exactly the opposite to what his coach was saying. And the agent was an ex player and the coach was an ex player. And they both played loads of games in the Premier League. But even if you listen to Karrigan and Neville at times, they'll disagree about certain things that are going on in games. But if you're a young player and you've got different people saying different things to you about the football and different people saying two things about your finance and different people saying things about your social media and different people saying things about your lifestyle.
Good luck when you're 17, 18, making sense of all that. So the less influencers, I always think the better as long as those influencers are good ones.
Just finally, I guess, for each of you, Lewis, what would you like to see changed now and what do you wish you had back then that was missing? What needs to get better in the game for supporting players?
I don't think you can ever sit there and say, wish I had this, wish I had that. Everyone's had different times and you do the best and the football club do the best. And at that time and what's allowed and what's the best for everyone else. And I think that I'm sure nick will say how he did different... Not in the forest, how he does stuff now is completely different. That's down to experience. That's down to knowledge over the time. It's down to being in a different football club with different priorities. It's all these little things. So I think that in terms of... The main thing is it will never changes. You just want the best for the young players coming up. You want the best advice, you want the best chance for them to make it professional footballer because that is the be all and end all. I think we always talk about the after and if that doesn't happen, how do you get how can these players get help? I think that will hopefully get better. But at the end of the day, you're now not at that football club. There's another person in your place and football clubs will try and help to a certain point, but that will still always be the same in any workplace.
You are not in that workplace anymore and there's someone else in your place that they're now trying to take to the next stage. So I think that will always be that after care to a certain point. I think social media will now have a massive influence and continue to have a massive influence. I just hope these players can understand that it's not the worst thing not making it. And I've spoke about this before in the terms of when I was coming up, it was you didn't make it. That was life over. That was dream over. Now, so having been in the last two and a half years in this non league game, there's actually another stage. There's a stage where you can, yeah, okay, it's not maybe full-time, but you can go and have decent money. You can go and live your footballing dream. You can play at a good standard in a good environment and you can still live out, okay, it might not be the dream you had, but you can still live out that football dream. And I think that when I was growing up, it was that point. It was like, have I made it?
No. Speaking to a lot of friends who didn't make it was like, life's over. What do I do now? And I think if to have that outlook and there's so many opportunities now, there's so many places to still have your footballing dream. And I think that's the big key because at the end of the day, when it all starts, that's what it is. It's a dream to play football at the highest level. And I say this all the time, just because highest level is everyone's opinion. When people always say, oh, he should have played in the Premier League. He should have played. But he had no given right to play in the Premier League. He had no given right to play in the championship league, he wanted to even make professional footballer. He still played at a level. He still lived out his dream. And that dream is to play football at the highest level that their capabilities have. And I think that's if they keep having that opinion and don't think I've got to be at the top. If I'm not at the top, then all this is worthless because it's not. It's still a dream.
It's just so difficult on that low. I 100 % agree with you. And all the time, the messages will always be trying to achieve your potential. Be the best player you can be. But I don't think you can ever stop a kid from dreaming. It's so tough. They want to play in the Premier League. And Trent's recently come out and done some brilliant stuff around some of his teammates who find it really, really difficult when they didn't live that. But Trent had that mindset. Trent had the time to say that this is my dream and I'm going to do it. And he was one of the ones who did do it. So it worked out for him. How do you tell another kid don't have that dream? So we can say to him, we're blue in the face, which we do do. All you can do is control the controllables and become the best possible player you can be. And if you do that, you'll be unbelievably successful. You should be incredibly proud of yourself. Control the things that you can control. You can't control... Trent can't control that Nathaniel Kline gets injured and gives him an opportunity.
If he didn't get the opportunity, each other, who knows where the journey might have taken him? Maybe he's exactly the same place, maybe he's in a different place. He can't control that. But what he can control is doing everything he possibly can. But it's very, very difficult. And my experience has been, how many times you say that to a pair? Having some players about, be the best player you can be, you will still get players who when they don't quite achieve the level they think they should be playing at, find it incredibly difficult. This is a big thing in football at the moment. What I would say is there's a lot more support around now, a lot more support around there now than there was. We have a whole department called the alumni department looking after the players who've perhaps not got where they wanted to, or maybe they have done it and now they're out of the game. Because that's another thing that we don't really think about. The players have had a really successful careers and suddenly it's gone because of the rage. There's quite a few examples of players, very high profile players have really struggle with that.
So where's their support? It's quite complicated, but I... Listen, I lose way of putting it across, I completely agree. But again, sometimes until people have experienced it and been through it, they don't get it.
I'm a lucky... And I know we talk about a look and you have to do the right things, but you have to get so much luck along the way. And I'm a lucky one. I got to live out my dream. I got to play the city ground. But it's just so easy along that journey as nick was privy to at the time, there's so many times along that journey that could have gone a different avenue.
You're one tackle away from NL career, Lewis.
And it's not nice to hear. It's not nice to think about, but that's the reality. And that's when I see these and nick will see more that 6, 7, 8, 9, just let them enjoy, let them play. The journey is so far to even get to a point of like, okay, I've left school now, now I might look in academy. There's so much what can happen in that period of time. And I just think that there's so much detail and they've got to be in academy at six. They've got to do this. They've got to go through. From experience and from going through that period, it's a tough childhood. It's a tough childhood. It's draining, it's long, and there's so much what you have to go through, emotionally, physically, everything on that journey. I just think that I wish that I could sometimes let people be privy to what it's all about, what that journey is all about, and not from the outside because I understand from a parent point of view, they want the best for their children. And it's like, Right, let me get them in there because that's where the spotlight is.
That's where everyone thinks they should be. But it's also what does that do to the child? What does that do to their development? Not just as a footballer, but more importantly as a person, as then growing up in life. Is that the best place for them to learn all these skills and the life skills and the situations? And funny enough, I always say I play a lot of golf now and I'm around a lot of golf, play a lot of tournaments. I play with young pros and great players, 16, 17, 21, 20, unbelievable players. But the biggest thing that I find, they struggle to have conversation because they've spent so much time on their own in this bubble of golf on my own every day, every day, every day. And that's trying to get to this top. They come out of that at 2021, and it's like in the real world and it's speaking and they're talking and they can't really hold conversations. They can't really look people in the eye. They don't know how to deal with these circumstances because what it's been from the start is golf, you're the best, turn up at a tournament, you're on your own with your caddy, you need to be the best.
Finish, go home. There's no dialogue, there's no thinking. So I think in terms of letting them have a chance to develop as a person and hopefully the football will come at the side of that. But don't let football be the front runner because the biggest thing...
It's a bit of good news, Lew. Our football club has been at the forefront of campaigning for this. And we're quite confident that this is going to happen now. In Lew's days, you could only play for an academy when you were young. So we're hoping, at least in the younger age groups, which is a good start, at 9, 10 and eleven, that the Premier League and the FA and the EFL are going to allow them to play grassroots football and have a different experience of football, playing with the mates, less pressure. They still come to academy and still get a little bit of training and still play for the academy, but they can go and have a different experience of football somewhere else. We think that's a massive step in the right direction to keep it.
When I was coming up, as you know, even the thought of if you're playing for school, it was like, no.
I got that wrong, by the way.
And it's even stuff like this, that's what sometimes people don't see. I never played for my school. I was a footballer playing for Nottingham Forest Academy. Everyone knew I was a footballer. I was never allowed to play for my school's team. So it's also that dealing with that as a child. Yeah, you're supposed to be this next footballer, but you never like to play for school team. Then even when you have school piece, you're always anxious, you're always this, you're always that. And because it's a scrutiny of that's how you felt as that was frowned upon. You're not allowed to play for your school. It was not allowed that. And then that's why it was literally that institution of not in the Forest Academy. And that was all you did. And that was all you seen. So when that stops at whatever age, how then to anyone to then deal with that. Right now, you go and play with your friends. The ones I want to play with for the last 10, 11 years that I've been kept apart from. Now I've got to go and face them. And in anything like any kid, I failed.
They'll feel like they failed. So what happens is they stop playing football and they come out of the game because they'll rather do that than at point feel like they've got the embarrassment of they've been there. That's not worked out. Well, I can't go back into that scenario. We all know what kids are like at that age. So they end up falling out of the game. And they're just little things. So just hearing that, I think that you've got to let them have a bit of still be connected to the normal everyday school environment of being with their friends because that academy lifestyle is so lonely, no one else experiences that.
Yeah, it's longer than it ever was. And they definitely formed their identity there. There's definitely a couple of old Nottingham FA schools people that if they're still around, Jerry and Mike would be loving hearing me say, I got that one wrong because I used to get a war with them two. But there was a big move in football to reduce the number of games the kids were playing from the plan to 80 to 100 games a year, 80 to 120 games a year, down to 40. And the Academy took over and we went along with that. And I definitely look back on that and go, yeah, that wasn't right. So we do allow our kids here to play for the schools and the local schools associations. And hopefully next year we'll be able to let them play grassroots football in the younger end as well.
I feel like we've only scratched the surface. We could do another hour on kids football, another hour on not making it, another hour on what happens when you retire. That's for another time, I think. Thanks to everyone who's watched along. Hopefully you enjoyed it. Hopefully it opened your eyes a bit like it opened my eyes hearing Louis talk about that stuff in the pub. And now with Louis and nick as well here today. Louis, thank you very much.
Not a problem. Any time.
nick, good to have you back. Hopefully find ways to get you back on again eventually.
It's good to be on and it's good to see Mr. Magoogin here. I've not seen for many years and it's been great to see him be on his journey and how articulate he is. How many kids you got, Louis?
Wow. In my head, all these ex players are always just... Well, depends on when I really have big men, like 60 year olds or 40 year olds, they always retain that. So, yeah, it's great to see both of you. But no offence, Matt, it's particularly good to see Lewis.
No offence taken, no offence at all. Right, we'll be back on Wednesday or Thursday with the usual transfer chat. We'll probably say our players good or rubbish, having learned nothing from this last hour, but hopefully not. In the meantime, have a good few days, everyone, and we shall see you soon.