Ex-Tottenham star Jan Vertonghen says Premier League clubs need former stars in key roles like at Ajax

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Ex-Tottenham star Jan Vertonghen says Premier League clubs need former stars in key roles like at Ajax

 

JAN VERTONGHEN believes putting former players in executive roles is the way forward for Premier League clubs like Spurs.

The ex-Tottenham defender envies former Belgium team-mate Vincent Kompany, the Burnley boss who has found his “passion” in coaching and management.

Jan Vertonghen, now at Anderlecht, is weighing up his options when he stops playing

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Jan Vertonghen, now at Anderlecht, is weighing up his options when he stops playing

But Vertonghen, after learning how ex-Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar became CEO of Ajax, believes his future could lie in that direction.

Vertonghen said: “Holland always seems in many ways, in the business and football side, ahead of everyone else.

“Ajax and Edwin van der Sar are perfect examples, with him coming from the football side going into marketing and then ending up as the CEO.

“It would be great, let’s talk about Spurs, to have former players getting involved in the technical side. Not just on the coaching side, but in other areas.

“But it requires a lot of study. We can’t be fooling ourselves and think we can come off the pitch and go straight into a big management job at a big club like Spurs.”

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Vertonghen, 35, is still playing at Anderlecht, but is already studying to try to work out what he wants to do when he hangs up his boots.

He is among the leading players who have taken advantage of the Career Transition Programme, one of a number of educational opportunities provided by Uefa.

The CTP course offered a taste of a number of possible roles and it was Van der Sar’s presentation that particularly impressed Vertonghen, who was himself at Ajax as a youth player and then for six years in the first team.

Vertonghen said: “Looking at Ajax, they’re very far ahead in terms of marketing and social media and sustainability, caring about the environment.

“I have some inside information because I still know people work there and play there. They have to be creative.

“They are not a Premier League team but their financial position is so strong because of their off-pitch thinking.

“Obviously they do some big transfers and that’s the biggest source of income.

“But the way they create their image online and put themselves in the market, that’s something for lots of organisations to look at and take as an example.”

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Vertonghen was speaking before the latest crisis at Tottenham. Manager Antonio Conte left with a bang, and this week managing director Fabio Paratici learned his two and a half year ban from Italian football, for his part in the Juventus financial scandal, would be extended worldwide by Fifa.

But it is tempting to wonder whether the clear, positive culture and relatively smooth governance of clubs like Ajax owes something to the involvement of ex-players like Van der Sar.

Vertonghen, as Belgium’s record appearance maker and a player with 17 seasons of experience at the top level in four different countries, is entitled to think he will have plenty to offer a future employer.

He said: “I hope I can encourage the effort that you put into a group, working towards a certain goal and creating that spirit within an organisation to reach those goals.

“That’s something you find on the football pitch as well, getting all the noses in the same direction.That’s one of the things I can help with.

“Lots of football organisations are big businesses and I need to be led by guys with experience.

“But a mix of people is best. If I can learn from those people during my career, that’s the best way to do it.

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“It’s a benefit for the club and the player to get players involved in the organisation during their career.”

But Vertonghen, despite having his Uefa A licence, won’t be following Kompany into management – at least not immediately.

Vertonghen said: “Vincent is one of the guys that I saw during his career who has that passion of waking up at six and opening his laptop until 12 at night, and then probably dreaming about it as well.

“In a way, I envy him because he has found his passion. “I’m looking for balance in my family life

and professional life.

“I’m convinced that becoming a coach, which is even more demanding than being a player, cannot give me that balance.

“Not straight after my playing career, in any case.

“I cannot do a coaching job 60, 50 or 70 per cent.

“You need to commit 100 per cent, like I’ve seen with the coaches I have had , and

“But when I stop playing, I know I can’t sit at home and do nothing.

“I hope I can find the same passion as Vincent and the same passion I have had during my career on the pitch.”

Vertonghen envies Vincent Kompany but has no plans yet to go into management

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Vertonghen envies Vincent Kompany but has no plans yet to go into management