Natural technique, dedication and a sharp tactical mind are behind England star Kieran Trippier’s rise according to his former youth coach.
Amid further talk of childhood hero David Beckham and how his own trusty right boot gives England a weapon akin to their celebrated former captain in his pomp, Kieran Trippier took time to discuss some of the more unsung influences upon his rise to the pinnacle of the game.
There are the supportive and football-mad family – dad Chris, whose huge England flag to mark tournament time famously incurred the wrath of the local council in Bury, and elder brother Kelvin Lomax, who represented Oldham Athletic, Rochdale, Chesterfield and Shrewsbury Town in England’s lower leagues.
Now shining at the World Cup on the back of accomplished Premier League performances, first at Burnley under Sean Dyche and now with Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham, Trippier still recognises his formative years in the Manchester City academy and the dedication of one coach in particular as being crucial.
“My delivery is something I always used to work on. Me and Steve Eyre, the coach at Manchester City, used to stay behind for ages after more or less every session,” the 27-year-old explained in a drizzly Repino, with England making their final preparations for Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden in Samara.
“Literally near enough every day after training, we just used to stay out and practice and practice.
“There are a lot of people I need to thank for my journey to get here and he’s one of them. He’s the one coach who I will always speak to.”
Those sessions took place under the watchful eye of City’s former academy manager Jim Cassell – a man responsible for the first steps in professional football of Shaun Wright-Phillips, Micah Richards and Daniel Sturridge among numerous others – and Eyre chuckled over the notion he should take any huge credit. The talent was evidently already there.
“I was left-footed, he was right so we’d also drag a young goalkeeper out and have free-kick competitions, first to 20,” Eyre recalled while speaking to Omnisport.
“It was always very close but he always won. It was definitely not a case of it being me as a coach who taught him how to do it, it was more encouraging the natural talent.”
Trippier did his part with aplomb in a more high-pressure shoot-out earlier this week, dispatching England’s fourth spot-kick as they prevailed on penalties following a fractious last-16 encounter with Colombia in Moscow.
Despite not being a noted goalscorer, it speaks volumes that such composure and execution did not come as a huge surprise.
Only Neymar and Kevin De Bruyne have created more chances at this World Cup, with hours of studying videos of Beckham and Andrea Pirlo and countless balls kicked with Eyre at City’s old Platt Lane training ground paying dividends.
The first leap in Trippier’s development came as a 12-year-old, when the move from eight-a-side games to playing on larger pitches instantly gelled with his style.
“That can be a graveyard for some schoolboys because they can’t cope with big-sized pitches but it was manna from heaven for Kieran,” said Eyre, who is now working at Fleetwood Town as part of Joey Barton’s coaching team.
“Once the pitch got extended that just gave him a chance to enhance his already brilliant passing and crossing.”
Just as important as the now trademark delivery is Trippier’s keen tactical mind as a whirring cog in Gareth Southgate’s 3-1-4-2 formation.
This was another facet apparent early on to Eyre and one well developed by the time the player’s “impatient ambition” drove him to seek first-team football with his path at City blocked by the likes of Richards and Pablo Zabaleta.
“Kieran’s the best I ever saw, even at 12 years old, in terms of seeing a game through the coach’s eyes,” Eyre said.
“Very quickly he would copy the coach’s dialogue and in no time at all he was coaching from within the game.
“It was fascinating and really gratifying to hear Mauricio Pochettino talk about how wonderful Kieran is tactically – that’s another thing we noticed at a young age. He was basically a coach on the field.”
Eyre and Trippier remain very close. The 46-year-old attended his former charge’s wedding and regularly receives match shirts from the Spurs star – cherished mementos for Eyre’s three daughters.
They have spoken on the phone after the games in Russia and the ex-Rochdale boss beams when discussing the 2008 FA Youth Cup winner’s latest bid for glory.
“Kieran’s the most naturally gifted right-back in the world game with his last pass,” he added, having credited Dyche for ensuring Trippier is now equally well-versed in the “fine arts” of defending.
“His one-v-one defending has been as good as anybody in the tournament and his crossing has been the best in the tournament.
“The England setup is perfect for him. He’s got pace behind him in [Kyle] Walker, he’s got [Jesse] Lingard who he combines with and he puts balls into the channels. He’s functioning well for the team.
“We can just sit back and enjoy him. We’ve had the benefit of watching this since he was 10 years of age, it’s just on a bigger stage.”