Nino Severino: The best is yet to come from Ipswich Town Academy

PUBLISHED: 13:01 25 October 2017 | UPDATED: 13:28 25 October 2017

Nino Severino rates Bryan Klug as one of the best coaches he's ever seen. Picture: ARCHANT

Nino Severino rates Bryan Klug as one of the best coaches he's ever seen. Picture: ARCHANT

In his latest weekly column, renowned coach and fitness expert Nino Severino visits Ipswich Town - and was very impressed with what he found.

Lee O'Neill is manager of the Ipswich Town Academy. Picture: IPSWICH TOWN Lee O'Neill is manager of the Ipswich Town Academy. Picture: IPSWICH TOWN

I had a great opportunity to visit the Ipswich Town training ground last week to watch the young players being taken through their paces.

The evening started with a very warm welcome from Bryan Klug, the Blues’ head of coaching and player development.

Bryan used to be my old gaffer when I was part of his coaching team around 12 years ago; he has been one of the significant professionals I have had the privilege of working with during my sporting journey, and he made a big impression on me.

I spent eight years on the WTA World Tennis tour, working around some of the best coaches in the world – Leon Smith, ex-coach to Andy Murray, coach of the Great Britain Davis Cup team and head of GB Men’s Tennis, Nigel Sears, coach to Grand Slam champion Ana Ivanovic and head of GB Women’s Tennis and Louis Cayer, arguably one of the best technical tennis coaches in the world and ex-coach to Greg Rusedski.

So I feel I am very well qualified to say that Bryan has a very special gift for coaching, and the results speak for themselves.

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During his time at Ipswich Town he has nurtured some of the finest talent to come through the academy, and based on what I witnessed last week, I am confident the best is still to come!

It was fantastic to walk around the training pitches with Bryan, and to meet the highly professional team that he has built, which includes ex-Blues stars Kieron Dyer, Titus Bramble, Jason Dozzell and Mick Stockwell, who were all in attendance.

Jason Dozzell (left) and Kieron Dyer are just two of the ex-Town stars involved in the youth set-up. Picture: STEVE WALLER Jason Dozzell (left) and Kieron Dyer are just two of the ex-Town stars involved in the youth set-up. Picture: STEVE WALLER

I think it’s absolutely fantastic that these highly successful football players are passing their experience and knowledge onto the new breed of young football players whom Bryan is nurturing and cultivating at the academy.

I’ve worked in a number of professional sports academies during my coaching life and it’s so important that the young talent coming through the ranks have great role models who they can look up to and respect.

Without a doubt, this is what I witnessed during my visit – young players listening with respect to these seasoned ex-professionals who are passing their knowledge on. That is priceless in terms of developing young athletes.

It was an exceptional visit for many reasons and after my chat with academy manager Lee O’Neill in the players’ lounge I stayed to talk to some other ITFC staff, which turned into quite an emotional experience.

My wife’s link with the football club through her father Sergei Baltacha is embedded into the history of the Blues, with Sergei being the first ever player from the USSR to play for a British team.

Elena and I often used to attend matches, and she was always treated like royalty whenever she visited.

Sergei and the whole Baltacha family are remembered with fondness by so many people who were part of the support team that helped them make Ipswich their new home.

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One of the people who were sitting with me shared his memories of the last meeting with my wife, telling me that he met her while we were in the Director’s Box at the last match we watched.

He said she was a lovely, polite, caring and a wonderful woman.

Hearing the way that people remember my wife means so very much to me, because this is how I remember her – always taking the time to treat everybody with respect and kindness, regardless of whether she was meeting the Queen at Wimbledon, or a parent of a young tennis player asking for her advice.

We talked a lot about her memories of arriving in England from the Ukraine as a little girl, and how the staff at the club helped them with everything from finding a home, learning a new language, to finding a school for Elena and Sergei Jnr.

How incredible, over 20 years from that first arrival at Heathrow airport, that Elena would once again make Ipswich her home, as my wife and the British Number one tennis player!


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