The most important part of any youngsters chances of making his dreams come true and, becoming a professional footballer, lie with early decisions by his parents, well, it most certainly did in my case and, I watched as others faltered. You might think that growing up in Chelsea, so close to Stamford Bridge, gave us kids an advantage, but the record books show that I still remain the most local kid to ever make good at Chelsea Football Club – in fact, the only one of my generation and several before. The scouting system simply does not exist, which is something that has always staggered me, because there were many talented kids around in the 50s, 60s and 70s, yet none given the opportunity to make their particular dream come true.
Some years later in Stoke-on-Trent it appeared to me that the same thing was happening because clubs would prefer to either spend money on youngsters with ‘proven abilty’ or, as is today, ‘go foreign’.
Going back a step, my father Bill Hudson, who played at Wimbledon and Wealdstone as an amateur, insisted that his sons would be educated at home, much like some children being taught any subject that the school system fail to do. I use myself as an both an example and exception as a youngster who come through the ranks without being coached professionally – my father saw to that. It was only when explaining this to my two friends Lewis Griffiths and John Hellier, both football lovers of the Seventies, that this latest ‘project’ was discussed. My response was that over the years I have been approached by many a parent who was/is looking for a way to ‘cut through the tape’ so to allow their youngsters to get a real helping hand or in other words ‘put in the right direction’ and my answer is always the same – ‘do not let the modern day coach knock out the inborn talent your son might have for I know that it was something I never needed’.
Although I have stated that, I still find it difficult to believe that these parents never see a scout at their kids matches, which simply baffles me, from Chelsea to the Potteries. I have offered my assistance on several occasions but it seems that they would rather send their youngsters to a professional football club at such a ridiculously young age. In my case I never truly developed fully until I reached the first team, as a seventeen going on eighteen year-old and, you have to keep in mind in my day there were sixteen players in the first team squad and our foreign players were from Scotland and Ireland.
Do I consider myself a good judge of talent?
Absolutely, and one example was Frank Lampard, although he had come through a very ‘rare’ coaching system under Tony Carr at West Ham United, I was still wondering where his future lie. After receving a call from his father I put him in the right direction by telling him, ‘If young Frank wants to fulfill his dream, and I know that he is both fully committed and totally dedicated to the cause, he must not join Leeds. He must go to Chelsea if he wants superstardom’. I think that was rather good information from a player who wore the Chelsea Number 8 before Frank and after Jimmy Greaves. Therefore, he we are, with Lewis insisting we put this all together and, we have covered almost every aspect of not only finding a good young talent but put them in the right direction after personal tuition, which might sound a little frightening, but believe me it is not, coaching is frightening for a youngster, not simply advice. I also must point out that for every thousand youngsters that go to a professional football club if one makes the first team I might be exaggerating. I learned through my father that you must work on your strengths as a young player, for example I have had many a coach tell me that I should have worked on my left foot, something very foreign to me, much like the great Ferenc Puskas who was the greatest one footed player of all time. If you are one footed, as I was, you simply adjust your body, like Puskas did against England for Hungary on that wonderful night when those at the FA were left scurrying back to the drawing board. You simply could not coach such a man, which can be said of George Best in my day and Lionel Messi today.
I’ll finish by using a saying that I think that covers all aspects of our game: ‘football is a simple game made difficult by fools’. And as the great West Ham United manager Ron Greenwood used to say: “simplicity is genius”, well it is simplicity that I use in everything I do when it comes to the game of football. I had trials at London Schoolboys and London and England Youth teams but never got a look in, but because of the advice given to me by Bill Hudson there after, I don’t think I did too badly – do you?
Alan Hudson Academy
The Alan Hudson Academy is a football education development programme geared at developing the footballing skills of players whilst supporting them to achieve excellence.
Academy players will receive:
- Alan attending a match of your choice
- Individual Player Development Plan
- One to one coaching advice
- Match analysis sessions
- Possible Professional Club links for progression
To book Alan or for further information on bespoke costs on the above package, please get in touch via the Alan Hudson Football Academy contacts page.
Alan Hudson is an English footballer who played for Arsenal, Chelsea, Stoke City and the Seattle Sounders as well as the England national football team.
Born and brought up near the King’s Road, Alan was rejected by Fulham as a schoolboy before signing for Chelsea. Injury denied him the chance to become Chelsea’s youngest ever player aged 16 and he eventually made his senior debut nine months later on 1 February 1969. Alan found himself in a Chelsea side noted for its flair and skill. It was during the 1969–70 season that he established himself as the team’s playmaker in the midfield of a 4–2–4 formation.
Alan played in every match in Chelsea’s run to the FA Cup final in 1970, but missed the final itself due to injury. He did, however, play a major role in Chelsea’s replayed European Cup Winners’ Cup final win against Real Madrid in Athens a year later. Chelsea’s debts caused by the building of a new East Stand resulted in the failure to replace key players, and a spiral of decline began. Chelsea in order to recoup money put Alan on the transfer list and within a month he joined Stoke City for a then club record of £240,000.
Stoke’s manager at the time was Tony Waddington. Alan was the final piece of the jigsaw for Waddington and the signing of Alan would turn Stoke City into genuine championship challengers in 1975. Alan’s debut for Stoke was against Liverpool on 19 January 1974 and was described by former Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Stan Cullis, commentating on radio, as the finest debut performance he had ever seen. Allowed a free rein by Waddington, Alan combined brilliantly with Jimmy Greenhoff and their form sparked a run of only two defeats in 19 games at the end of the 1973–74 season. Alan was enjoying the form of his career at Stoke and in his first two years at the Victoria Ground he missed only one game out of 162, and he helped Stoke set a club record 23 home games undefeated from December 1973 to December 1974. Stoke almost won their first league title in 1974–75 finishing four points off Derby County in top spot. Alan then played 40 times in 1975–76. In January 1976 a strong storm caused considerable damage to Stoke’s Victoria Ground, and to pay for the expensive repair costs Stoke had to sell off their playing staff and, in December 1976, Alan was sold to Arsenal for £200,000.
Alan helped Arsenal reach the 1978 FA Cup Final, which they lost 1–0 to Ipswich Town; however differences with the Arsenal manager Terry Neill meant that he moved to the Seattle Sounders of the NASL for £100,000. He was 27 years of age.
In the autumn of 1978, Alan signed with the Cleveland Force of the Major Indoor Soccer League. He then returned briefly to Chelsea on a non-contract basis when John Neal signed him in August 1983. Partly due to illness and injury he never played in the Chelsea first team.
He re-joined Stoke City for £22,500 in January 1984 after Bill Asprey had consulted Waddington on how to help Stoke avoid relegation in 1983–84 Stoke picked up 33 points in 17 games and clinched survival with a 4–0 won over Wolverhampton Wanderers on the final day of the season. But in 1984–85 Stoke were relegated with a record low points tally. Alan was named captain by Mick Mills for the 1985–86 season but a knee injury forced him to retire in September 1985.
Alan won nine caps for the England U23 team. He had initially made his debut against Scotland U23 at Roker Park on 4 March 1970, but the game was abandoned due to snow after 62 minutes. He therefore went on to make his first full debut for the under-23 team on 2 December 1970, in a 0–0 draw with Wales U23 at the Racecourse Ground.
Owing to a ban from international football after refusing to tour with the England under-23 side, Hudson didn’t make his England debut until 1975, when sparkling performances earned him two call-ups by then England manager Don Revie. He starred in the team that beat 1974 FIFA World Cup champions West Germany 2–0 at Wembley, and then in the 5–0 destruction of Cyprus.