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Fabio Capello's debt to Tony Carr's West Ham production line

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10 Apr 2010 19:25:11

Fabio Capello's debt to Tony Carr's West Ham production line

Tony Carr's first job as a West Ham apprentice in 1966 was to look after World Cup winner Bobby Moore's training boots. Now after a lifetime's service at Upton Park, Carr is lookingforward to a World Cup this summer that could see seven of his protegesfeaturing in Fabio Capello's England plans. Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Glenn Johnson, Jermain Defoe, MichaelCarrick, Joe Cole and John Terry all spent their formative years underCarr's watchful eye at West Ham's Chadwell Heath training ground. On the ball: Tony Carr has developed players such as Michael Carrick and Rio Ferdinand The jewel in the crown of Carr's incredible 36-year coaching stint is Ferdinand, a player he turned from a gangly 16-year-old midfielder into one of the world's top centre-halves for Manchester United and England. Ferdinand, Lampard and the other famous names will be at Upton Park on May 5 when England's greatest starmaker is rewarded with a testimonial match between the current West Ham team and his old academy greats. The 59-year-old Carr, whose healthy complexion is testimony to the six days a week he still works on the training pitch as academy director, may be slightly embarrassed by all the attention but his record underlines his importance to English football. The way he shaped Ferdinand's career is arguably his greatest legacy, switching him from a midfielder for West Ham's FA Youth Cup campaign in 1996 in which they reached the final before defeat against Michael Owen's Liverpool. 'I was the first to put Rio at the back and it was a hard sell at first,' says Carr. 'He was 15 and loved playing midfield with his big mate Frank Lampard. His first reaction when I said I wanted him to switch was "Nah, nah, I don't want to play there". German influence: Rio Ferdinand became a defender because of German thinking 'I had to use a bit of psychology on him, persuade him I still wanted him to be a midfield player, but in defence. He tried it and took to it right away.' It was the Germans who influenced Carr to put Ferdinand in defence - a revelation that could make his club manager Sir Alex Ferguson splutter after last week's events at Old Trafford. 'Andy Roxburgh of UEFA gave a lecture about this new system being developed in Europe, with three centre-backs and two wing-backs. 'The best exponents were the Germans. They would put their most talented midfielder in the centre of the three defenders, allowing him to break forward and do damage. I immediately thought of Rio. I knew he could adapt. 'He was the best all-round player I've had. When I published a coaching manual, Rio's photograph was on nearly every page. I'd need a model for the chapter on heading and Rio was the best header. I'd do one for passing, Rio was the best at passing. And so it went on.' Carr also has a soft spot for Ferdinand's best pal from the youth team, Lampard. They were the odd couple - Ferdinand from a council estate in Peckham, Lampard educated at public school - but Carr says the future Chelsea star's dedication won over everyone. 'I use Frank as an example to the boys I coach today,' says Carr. 'Young Frank - I still refer to him as that because his dad will always be Big Frank -would come into training on his days off. He would put cones out to mark the two penalty areas. He'd sprint from one box to another, jog back and sprint again. That's how he got the fitness to go with the technical ability he had. A great example for any player.' Lovely bubbly: Tony Carr with West Ham graduates Glen Johnson (left), Michael Carrick and Joe Cole (right) Carr was born claret-and-blue, within the sound of Bow bells. As a kid, he would sneak into Upton Park at half-past 11 in the morning to sample the build-up before a game. 'By kick-off, it would be packed,' he says. He started training at the club as a schoolboy in 1964 and watched Bobby Moore from afar. 'It didn't stop me telling my mates I knew him when we watched the World Cup final at my council flat in Bow,' he smiles. 'I didn't but that changed a few weeks later when I began my formal apprenticeship. First day I walked in, there was Moore, Hurst and Peters - three World Cup winners. Wow. 'Bobby's training kit number was 12. I punched the number into his boots carefully. He was immaculate. He would put on his shorts last so the crease would look good. He'd even fold up the dirty kit. I remember on a Friday lunchtime, the teamsheets would be put up at Upton Park; first team, reserves, A team and two youth teams. Everyone would crowd around to see if they'd been picked but Bobby would just walk past before it was pinned on the wall - he knew he was in!' The ones that got away: Frank Lampard and John Terry both began their careers in East London Carr's own playing career was cut short by injury but his real career began as a coach at Upton Park in 1973. Most youngsters fell for Carr and West Ham's charm. The one that got away is Terry who, even at 10 years old, had a winner's attitude that stood out. Carr says: 'I didn't have a clue Chelsea were interested. I turned up for pre-season to be told John had left. He was 14.' They still say in east London that West Ham won the World Cup in 1966, providing the captain and scorer of all four goals. The links with Capello's team are arguably even stronger. 'Bobby Moore would be proud that the West Ham connection is still there,' says Carr.  West Ham 1 Sunderland 0: Ilan is the toast of Upton Park England World Cup match targeted by terrorist group linked to al-Qa'edaWEST HAM UNITED FC


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