Paul Ashworth

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Paul Anthony Ashworth
Personal information
Date of birth (1969-09-29) 29 September 1969 (age 45)
Place of birth Buxton, Norfolk, England
Teams managed
Years Team
2001-2003 FK Ventspils
2004 FK Riga
2005 FC Rostov Sporting Director
2005 FC Rostov Caretaker
2005-2009 Skonto FC
2010-2014 Kwara Football Academy Technical Director
2015 - present day Sunshine Stars F.C.

Paul Anthony Ashworth (born 29 September 1969[1]) is a former English footballer and assistant manager who is currently working as Head Coach and Technical Director of Sunshine Stars Football Club in Nigeria.

Ashworth had previously played at youth level for Norwich City before setting up PASS Soccer Schools, a national company. He later worked for Cambridge United and Peterborough United before moving to Latvia where he managed FK Ventspils, FK Riga and Skonto Riga as well as taking over at Russian side FC Rostov as Sporting Director. He worked as a Technical Director in Nigeria from May 2010 - 2014. He is Now Manager/Technical Director at Sunshine Stars Football Club, a Nigerian premier league team.

Playing career[edit]

Paul came through the youth system at Norwich City where he played for the side at schoolboy level. He didn't make the step up to the first team though but began to coach the youth teams at the club.[1]

Youth coaching career[edit]

Soccer Schools[edit]

While Ashworth was at Carrow Road, he set up his own company, PASS Soccer Schools.[2] The best players were put into representative teams from under-10 to under-16 age groups, met during the holiday periods and travelled to countries in Europe, North and South America to face their counterparts. His teams played against opposition from France, Canada, USA, Finland, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Brazil and Italy. At its height, PASS employed more than forty coaches and saw more than 100,000 children each year attend its soccer schools in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Cambridge United[edit]

In 1992, Cambridge United offered Ashworth a role as youth development officer at the club. He had previously worked with Kit Carson at Carrow Road and teamed up with him again at the Abbey Stadium.[3] The job was to nurture the club's youth system and at its height, 70% of the first team squad had come through the youth ranks. It was here that he met Gary Johnson who was the club's youth team manager (whom he later met again in Latvia).

Peterborough United[edit]

In 1996, Ashworth took on the role of youth team manager at Peterborough United.[citation needed] During his time there the senior team reached the semi final of the FA Youth Cup in 1997-98 where they were narrowly beaten by Blackburn Rovers over two legs.

Managerial career[edit]

Impressed by his work with the youngsters, Ashworth was appointed as the first team coach and assistant manager at Peterborough United[citation needed] by the then manager Barry Fry. He was responsible for all the coaching of the first team and the pair took the first team to the top of the second tier of English football.

FK Ventspils[edit]

In 2001, Ashworth ventured over to Latvia to meet his former colleague Gary Johnson, by now working as the coach of the Latvian national team. While in Riga, the president of Ventspils asked Ashworth if he would be interested in taking over as head coach at his club. Despite having little senior managerial experience, Ashworth accepted the offer and enjoyed two successful seasons managing the team, winning the Latvian Coach of the Year in 2001[citation needed].

In a league dominated by multi-championship winning side Skonto Riga, Ashworth secured two consecutive runners-up finishes, a Latvian Cup triumph and steered his squad into the UEFA Cup for the first time. In subsequent seasons, they also played Finnish side HJK Helsinki, Swiss outfit AC Lugano (winning their first European match)[4] before losing to German giants VfB Stuttgart in the next round.

While coaching at Ventspils, Ashworth learnt to speak Russian with the help of his number two.

FK Riga[edit]

In 2004, he took over as manager at another Virsliga side, FK Riga.[citation needed] Traditionally a smaller side, Ashworth led his side to a sixth-place finish in his only season at the club. He was able to coach in his second language, Russian.

FC Rostov[edit]

Having previously been unsuccessfully interviewed for the vacant managers position at Russian Premier League club FC Rostov, Ashworth was approached by the president of the club offering him the position of Sporting Director. He accepted the role and was responsible for all of the football side of the club such as youth policy, transfer policy, dealing with visas and international players, research and building of new training facilities as well as liaison with the manager on first team matters. After taking charge temporarily for two matches, he became the first Englishman ever to coach in the Russian Premier League.[5]

Skonto FC[edit]

Ashworth's success was attracting attention and after Skonto boss Jurijs Andrejevs resigned after a UEFA Champions League defeat to Macedonian side Rabotnicki, Ashworth became the manager of the country's biggest club. He was given the job of finishing each season in the top three, ensuring qualification for the European tournaments. This he achieved in every season bar one and the club enjoyed stability and success concurrently. Amongst the teams that Skonto faced in European competition under Ashworth's stewardship were Jeunesse d'Esch, Molde FK, Dinamo Minsk and Derry City.[citation needed]

It was during this period that he was described as "The Mourinho of Latvia" as a reference to his ability as a top coach despite not having played professionally in senior football [6]

Ashworth was also charged with generating a budget for the club by developing and then selling the most talented players. This was done well and at one point, no fewer than nine of the Latvian under-21 team were Skonto FC players. There was also nine internationals (from Latvia, Georgia and Slovakia) in the team and Ashworth also oversaw a mutual relationship with the national team by working closely on staff issues, training facilities and ideas.

Kwara Football Academy[edit]

In 2009 Ashworth moved to the position of Technical Director of Nigeria's only residential football academy, The Kwara Football Academy. Based in Ilorin, it takes talented youngsters from the ages of 13 to 21 and trains them as professional footballers while allowing them to get educated at the same time. Ashworth now[when?] has a staff of nine coaches and more than eighty full-time staff under his tutelage and has developed excellent facilities and training programmes[7]

The team plays mainly friendlies but entered the state FA Challenge Cup in 2011 and won the competition, beating Nigerian Premier League side Kwara United FC in the final. In March 2012, their under-17's team won the National Shell Cup, a competition in which more than 5,000 teams took part.

Sunshine Stars[edit]

In January 2015, Moved to Head Coach and Technical Director of Nigerian Premier League team Sunshine Stars. Based in Akure, Ondu state, and one of Nigeria's most famous club sides. Paul is again the first English Coach to work in this tough league, one of Africa's most competitive leagues. The team started their campaign in March.

Personal life[edit]

Paul was born in the Norfolk village of Buxton and went to school in the nearby town of Aylsham, nine miles north of Norwich. He left his education with two 'O' levels and three 'A' levels and later went to Newcastle University where he achieved a Certificate of Sports Psychology.[citation needed]

He also holds a UEFA A Licence and a UEFA Pro Licence, the sport's foremost coaching qualification.[citation needed]

He is married to a Latvian wife, Nataliya, and the couple have three children.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Flown From the Nest - Paul Ashworth". Ex-canaries.co.uk. 1969-09-29. Retrieved 2012-12-10. 
  2. ^ "Buxton man is coaching Nigeria’s top footballing talent". Eastern Daily Press. Edp24.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-12-10. 
  3. ^ "Paul Ashworth". Kitcarsonfootball.com. Retrieved 2012-12-10. 
  4. ^ "UEFA Europa League 2002/03 - History - Ventspils-Lugano –". Uefa.com. 2002-08-15. Retrieved 2012-12-10. 
  5. ^ "English coach hits the heights in Russia". BBC News. 2005-01-14. Retrieved 2012-12-10. 
  6. ^ "'Mourinho of Latvia' does his bit". Icnewcastle.icnetwork.co.uk. 2006-08-10. Retrieved 2012-12-10. 
  7. ^ "INTERVIEW: Paul Ashworth – From Norwich City to Nigeria". Betscout.com. 1969-09-29. Retrieved 2012-12-10.