'I want to give back to the club that helped develop me' - Nino Severino meets Kieron Dyer
In his latest column, Nino Severino sits down with Ipswich Town icon Kieron Dyer to talk about how he's giving back to the club where he made his name, and the town he still calls home.
I recently had a very unique opportunity to interview an Ipswich Town icon – not a standard interview from a paper’s point of view, in that both myself and the interviewee work in the same environment at the Blues, and we both coach, so this felt like an informal chat between two elite coaches.
The coach I had the opportunity to share this experience with, is the one and only Kieron Dyer. Anyone who knows Kieron well, will tell you he is an extremely intelligent individual, considered in his views, thinks before he talks, and has a lot of care and compassion.
One of the first things Kieron said to me was: “I owe a lot to Ipswich”, and I think it’s fair to say that he is now going about his business to repay the debt he feels he owes to his hometown.
Kieron is a patron of the Jude Brady Foundation which was set up by the trustees and the parents of Jude Brady, a foundation to raise money for research into the reason why so many babies die as a result of still birth.
He is also a very big supporter of Fresh Start – New Beginnings, which operates through Suffolk and Norfolk, and was set up to provide a therapeutic service for children and young people who have reported being sexually abused.
Kieron has openly, and bravely, talked publicly about his sexual abuse as a teenager, so understandably connects with the suffering of these local children and young people.
He recently donated half of the proceeds from his book launch at Portman Road to help the Fresh Start team, while another fact that surprised me was that he has used his wealth to re-invest in the football club that helped develop his outstanding talent, donating over £100,000 to the Town academy.
Kieron kindly told me that he reads my column every week, and I reminded him of one where I wrote about sport saving so many young people from taking the wrong path in life.
He told me, without doubt, he felt that football helped him stay strong through the personal sexual abuse he suffered, and that it gave him stability and a focus through a very traumatic period in his life.
Kieron is a very open minded and informed individual, and we talked at length about child sexual abuse, and how the very entities that exist to protect children, such as the Catholic Church, are so often part of the problem.
He expressed that sport is, in so many ways, a saviour for our young children, but I must admit, I never thought about sport being a rock of stability and consistency for young children going through the suffering of this type of abuse.
It’s no surprise that we eventually started talking about coaching, and how he was now using his own life experience to support the youngsters in the Town academy.
He talked passionately about what he had learned from the great Sir Bobby Robson. He said: “Bobby had the ability to make everyone feel special, he had the perfect balance between knowing when to banter with the boys, and when to switch to being very serious.”
Kieron clearly has taken this on board and uses it within his coach delivery, I’ve seen him coach, and he has a special ability to connect with the players, and sense their emotions, a skill that enables gifted coaches to be versatile in their delivery.
As we continued to talk about the pathway he would need to take to develop into a senior coach, he was very humble. He said: “I accept and understand where I am in the development journey. I wanted to start at the bottom of the food chain with the youngsters at the under 16 age group, and work my way up.
“I want to give back to the club that helped develop me and be part of the process that would develop the players of the future.”
I was curious to know how he was managing the transition from being a top-flight football player, to now being on the delivery end of the process as a coach.
He said: “As a player, when I lost, I took it home with me, I took it personally, to some extent it effected the people around me, as a coach that all needs to change.
“You can’t be selfish, I feel a massive amount of responsibility towards all the players in the team. If the team suffers a bad result, I need to be there for them all, I now need to think about all the players in my team and how I support them, being a coach is a massive responsibility.”
There has been so much said of Kieron Dyer, the man, the footballer, the celebrity, so to finish my column, here is what I say.
Kieron has had highs and lows, has come through some difficult professional periods, and has used his life experiences to now positively affect others.
And the most valuable aspect of this positivity, is that he has chosen Ipswich to be the beneficiary of his life experiences, knowledge and footballing wisdom!