The strik­ing coach with a VERY strik­ing past!

Daily Mail - - Sports - SAMI MOKBEL in the Eng­land camp, Repino

Dur­ing one of Harry Kane’s metic­u­lous strik­ing drills, Al­lan rus­sell would scream at him: ‘Feel the de­fender!’

now, you’re prob­a­bly won­der­ing what a jour­ney­man striker — who scored just nine goals in a non­de­script career in English foot­ball — can teach Kane, one of the world’s most lethal marks­men.

But make no mis­take, the Eng­land cap­tain lis­tens. So does gareth South­gate. So much so that the Eng­land man­ager has al­lowed rus­sell into his inner sanc­tum.

The self- styled ‘ world’s no 1 striker coach’ has been granted en­try to South­gate’s top- se­cret coach­ing meet­ings.

When South­gate shuts the door be­hind him to de­cide his team and tac­tics, only his clos­est con­fi­dants are al­lowed in. South­gate is joined by as­sis­tant Steve Hol­land and goal­keep­ing coach Mar­tyn Mar­get­son as he con­sid­ers the de­ci­sions that will shape Eng­land’s World Cup cam­paign. it is credit to rus­sell that he is now in­cluded in that think-tank.

The fact he was part of Eng­land’s of­fi­cial World Cup photo il­lus­trates his stand­ing within the Eng­land se­nior set-up.

As for ‘feel the de­fender’, rus­sell is re­fer­ring to a striker know­ing ex­actly where his marker is be­fore tak­ing his first touch. if the de­fender is on your right shoul­der, take the ball with the out­side of your left and vice versa. it is that metic­u­lous­ness that could help re­build Eng­land’s tat­tered rep­u­ta­tion over the com­ing weeks.

rus­sell be­lieves the finer de­tails sep­a­rate the great from the good. As his rep­u­ta­tion grows, an in­creas­ing num­ber of Premier League strik­ers are turn­ing to rus­sell in search of per­fec­tion.

Crys­tal Palace for­wards Wil­fried Zaha and An­dros Townsend are among those to have en­listed the help of rus­sell. Both speak highly of him. For up to £ 1,000 per ses­sion, you would hope so.

The suc­cess of his com­pany Su­pe­rior Striker is per­haps why rus­sell isn’t a full- time FA em­ployee, de­spite his growing in­flu­ence on the Eng­land team. But you can imag­ine how Eng­land play­ers were du­bi­ous about his ap­point­ment, on an ad-hoc ba­sis, in March 2017.

The only English clubs he played for were Mac­cles­field, Mans­field and For­est green rovers. Cou­ple that with the fact rus­sell is a client of Terry Byrne’s man­age­ment com­pany Ten10 Tal­ent — who also look af­ter South­gate and Hol­land — and you can imag­ine the squad’s scep­ti­cism.

But rus­sell, with his trusty iPad never too far away, has quickly won over Kane and Co. in­deed, the Tottenham striker once en­coun­tered rus­sell at a nike photo- shoot in the Scots­man’s for­mer career as a model, which also saw him share the stage with pop star Christina Aguil­era at an MTV Awards Show.

The way rus­sell struck the foot­ball at that nike shoot re­sounded with Kane. Years later they are work­ing in tan­dem. Eng­land camp in­sid­ers de­scribe rus­sell as ‘con­fi­dent and bol­shie’. Be­cause he is only re­cently re­tired, play­ers have warmed to him.

rus­sell sounds and looks like a player, and South­gate’s men re­late to him more than they would a much older coach. His ses­sions are said to be en­gag­ing. He reg­u­larly re­freshes his drills so the play­ers don’t get bored.

Es­sen­tially, rus­sell’s re­mit is to ex­tract an ex­tra five per cent from Eng­land’s for­wards. it is those mar­ginal gains in fire­power that could dic­tate how Eng­land per­form in this tour­na­ment.

rus­sell was heav­ily in­flu­enced by nFL coach­ing tech­niques dur­ing his time spent in the uS play­ing for Carolina rail­hawks and Or­ange County Blues FC.

Video anal­y­sis is an in­te­gral part of his work. if Kane should go on to win the World Cup golden boot next month that is a video rus­sell would love to watch over and over again.

GETTY IMAGES

Star power: the tar­tan-clad Glaswe­gian (cir­cled) helps carry out Amer­i­can pop star Christina Aguil­era at an MTV awards show back in 2003 DANCER

MARK LARGE

COACH Con­fi­dant: Rus­sell with South­gate

SNS

Jour­ney­man: the Scot in his time at Kil­marnock PLAYER

ALAMY

Blond am­bi­tion: Rus­sell in his days as a pin-up MODEL

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