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Cole & Zamora

Football Escapes Source

Interview: Joe Cole and Bobby Zamora

interviewEDGAR sits down exclusively with former English Premier League stars, Joe Cole and Bobby Zamora to talk new coaching strategies, mental health awareness and much more.

We travel to Jumeirah Beach Hotel to talk all things football with ex-Chelsea and England star Joe Cole and Fulham favourite, Bobby Zamora.


Tell us a little about Football Escapes?? 

Bobby Zamora: So it’s something that Sam Hubert and Tom Scott (Directors of Football Escapes), Rio Ferdinand and I setup to basically work with great hotels around the world such as Jumeirah. We add extra value to the venues.

Some people call it a kid’s club but it’s a big step up from that – especially with the coaching. All of the coaches have their UEFA A license and deliver high quality courses.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for kids to come and train with the likes of Joe (Cole), Rio, (Dimitar) Berbatov, (Eidur) Gudjohnsen…


BZ: Yep, myself. We’re growing, too. The families love it and we’re really pleased with the way Football Escapes is going.

And this is your first involvement with it, Joe?

Joe Cole: Yeah, this is the first time I’ve been part of it. I’ve known Bobby for many years and I heard about him doing this. My kids are here and joining in with the sessions and they love it, too.

As Bobby says, it’s much more than a kid’s club. The players get academy level coaching. And they certainly get something from taking part and learn about football along the way, too.

BZ: One of the things we tell the parents is ‘go off and enjoy yourselves, we’ll look after the kids during the sessions – they’re going to have fun. But you can see around the pitch, the parents all want to stay and watch.

It’s a fantastic opportunity to play with Joe, which is immense for the kids.

How has coaching changed since you guys were starting out?

JC: Coaching has moved on, that’s for sure. The attention to detail now is amazing.

The game just doesn’t stand still anymore, so when the kids are out on the pitch every minute detail is pre-planned. And that’s what the players at Football Escapes get to experience.

Overall, I feel the level of coaching in the English game especially has gone up to a new heights.

Was there a pivotal moment that led to this change?

BZ: Not really, it’s just been gradually shifting this way over time. The digital age is here and the coaches at these academies have their iPads loaded up with everything they need.

It’s actually mind-blowing to think about how advanced the coaching has become since we were playing. I don’t even think the coaches had a plan when we were coming up. But then, I wouldn’t really know, as I wasn’t paying much attention as a kid!

Joe Cole Liverpool


Shutterstock Cole is backing his former team, Liverpool for EPL glory this season

What’s the biggest difference you see in the youth players of today? 

JC: Physically the kids are much better. Also, since sports science came in the big push now is to improve the psychology of the young players. All the marginal gains that are made through coaching are important.

I’ve recently just retired, and moved into coaching, and the amount of time that is spent planning is incredible – everything is thought about.

The player’s mentality, personality, physicality and more is planned out for hours and hours just for that two hour session on the training pitch.

Do you think this sort of attention to detail would’ve benefitted your careers?

BZ: I don’t think there was as much pressure on us as kids as there is today. From age seven, when they start in these academies, there is pressure right away to get to the next level and make the next cut.

Back then we were a little bit blasé – you know, just go out there and enjoy it and have fun. But now there’s so much pressure on these kids – and it’s a little bit worrying – but to be there you need to be able to deal with it either now or as an adult in the Premier League.

Where would you say the pressures come from these days?

JC: I think it’s just the way the game has gone. There’s a lot of money in football these days, so there’s a lot more riding on the wins. So the prizes are bigger for everyone.

Parents come into the game and they’re very excited about their kid’s chance at making it. But it’s easy to get caught up in it, however it’s hard for those players to make it as a footballer.

So it’s up to us as coaches to make sure we get the balance right and that the kids are having fun. And that’s the most important thing: if you’re not enjoying then it’s the learning is difficult.

BZ: Things have changed with social media, too. When we were at West Ham as kids, we wouldn’t know what the lads at Chelsea were up to.

But now a kid can pick up the phone and see exactly what a rival player is doing in training, check out their highlight reels and it’s another added pressure.

JC: Yeah, there are a lot of highlight reel players on YouTube that kids aspire to be like, and again that’s another pressure on these young girls and boys.

It’s up to us as coaches to make sure we manage this in the best possible way. The learning will come when you set the right environment.

What kind of advice do you give to parents trying to get kids into football?

BZ: Don’t force them!

JC: Just let them have fun. If they enjoy it, just let them. It’s good to let them play any kind of sport. Kids are creative and in the right environment they’ll succeed.

BZ: Yeah, just let them enjoy it.

How’s retirement working out for you guys? 

JC: I’m enjoying it, but I do miss playing. We were having a conversation last night talking about just how much we miss playing. But I am enjoying getting away on holiday whenever we want and spending time with the family.

BZ: I was quite fortunate in the last couple of years of my career, as I started to wean myself off football. I knew it was coming. I got involved in other projects to help with the process, so it didn’t come as a shock.

I started Legacy Foundation with Rio Ferdinand and Mark Noble. I’m doing some property bits and, of course, Football Escapes.

Do you feel there’s enough being done for footballer’s mental health post-career?

JC: There’s more awareness on it all now. And people are talking about it a lot more now. There’s a lot more help and it’s needed. Society is more open now and if you’re having troubles you can talk about them more openly.

Personally, I’ve been fine and everyone I’ve known closely has too. But it’s good to talk, and if people are struggling out there then they should let it be known.

Who do you want to win the Premier League this season?

BZ: I want Liverpool to win the league. I just want to see a new team win it. I also like Klopp and what he’s done there for the last few years. They haven’t gone crazy with the money either, so it’d be nice to see them win it.

JC: Me too, I think Liverpool will do it. There are lots of things that have been going in their favour and I think they’ve done enough to get the job done.


Football Escapes takes place every day until April 19 10am-12pm at Jumeirah Beach Hotel. For more information or to book a slot visit footballescapes.com


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