Former Premier League footballer sets himself new goal in sport leadership

Damien Johnson

Damien Johnson takes great pride in developing young players capable of breaking into the Blackburn Rovers first team.

But for his latest challenge, the former Premier League footballer is aiming to develop himself, as he embarks on a course to grow his skills away from the training pitch and the dugout.

The ex-Northern Ireland international will start VSI’s MSc in Sporting Directorship in September at the centre for sports business at University of Salford as part of the 2018 cohort.

I’m really enjoying coaching and I love being on the grass,” said Johnson, who recently managed Blackburn Rovers’ Under-23s to the Premier League 2 Division 2 title, and has fed a number of promising players into Tony Mowbray’s first team fold.

However, I feel this course is an opportunity for me to broaden my skillset and develop myself professionally while learning about sporting organisations in a wider sense.

I’m looking forwarding to meeting people from other backgrounds; from different sports and business backgrounds and I know there are lots of things I can learn and take forward. I can’t wait to get started.”

Johnson enjoyed well over a decade at the highest level of English football with Blackburn and then Birmingham City, before finishing his playing career in the Football League with spells at Plymouth Argyle, Huddersfield Town and Fleetwood Town.

His career in coaching started with a role at Everton and he has now been with Rovers’ Under-23s for three seasons, back at the club where he made his professional debut as an 18-year-old.

He reflects very fondly on his time as a footballer, but is excited by a challenge that will make different demands to those he faced on the pitch.

I was lucky to have the career that I had and I will always be thankful and grateful for that,” said Johnson, who won over 50 international caps following his senior debut in 1999.

I never took it for granted. I feel like a good work ethic stood me in good stead when I played and I’m striving to continue that into my coaching career and whatever else may follow.

This course is taking me out of my comfort zone somewhat, but that’s what you have to do in life if you want to keep learning and keep improving.

When I started coaching after playing, I was immediately out of my comfort zone and this is something different again for me. It won’t be easy, but it’s certainly a challenge that I’m looking forward to.”

To learn more about the VSI MSc in Sporting Directorship contact:

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