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Antwan Russell takes on coaching role at Paget

Antwan Russell is relishing a new challenge this upcoming season as player-coach of First Division side Paget. (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Antwan Russell will be stepping into a coaching role at First Division club Paget, alongside head coach Don Vickers, with the aim of making the team a strong contender for promotion.

The veteran striker spent last season back at his hometown club PHC, helping them to a second-place finish in the Premier Division behind Dandy Town, as well reaching the FA Cup final, where they went down 3-2 to the same opposition.

At 35, Russell plans to be still active as a player, though coaching will be his priority.

“The plan is for me to coach first and foremost, and obviously being a new coach I won’t be able to give my all if I’m playing and coaching,” Russell said.

“But I did sign on as a player just in case, and we do have a few coaches there as well who can take the reins as the coach on that day if I have to play.

“Early in the season I’ll be 36. I haven’t lost the hunger to play but I will have more of a hunger to teach and pass on some of the things that were taught to me.

“When I look around the league, players my age are few and far between now, but when I came through I had the likes of Sammy Swan, Kenny Mills and Raynel Lightbourne. “The average player now is 27, 28 but they’re not learning from the older guys any more and I feel that’s where I can help.”

Having contemplated retirement since 2018, Russell rejoined PHC last season from Robin Hood and enjoyed himself playing alongside cousin Marco Warren, who was the season’s MVP, and nephew Enrique Russell who was the Premier Division’s top scorer.

After much thought over the summer, Russell is ready to take on a new challenge. He previously did some coaching under John Barry Nusum and Kyle Lightbourne at Hood.

“That season [2018] was going to be my last season, but that year we had a kid by the name of Mazhye Burchall who passed away [motorcycle crash] that I took to Robin Hood four years ago, so I had to play,” Russell added.

“And when my nephew [Enrique] came back on the island, I started playing full time because his daddy [the late Tokia Russell] wasn’t here any more and I used to play with his daddy. Playing with Enrique and my cousin Marco, I developed the hunger again and got serious.”

He added: “When I came back to PHC, the plan was to retire there but after playing this year I think I have something to offer to a team.

“I found a new hunger in coaching but I still have the burning desire to play if need be. I guess I can still terrorise some First Division defences for a few games.

“The lucky number for us this season will be 27, I’ve already done the math.

“It will be 18 league games, five FA Cup games and four Shield games. We need to win 27 games to win all the trophies available to us!”

Paget are delighted to get Russell on board.

“We have picked up a few players, including Antwan as player-coach who will be under the mentorship of Don Vickers,” Kian Butterfield, the Paget vice-president, said.

“Early this year we started some talks and he’s keen in helping out. He does have some ties with the club as Dale Russell was an integral part of the club. He is very excited and looking forward to the role.

“We’re excited about the players who are coming on board.

“It isn’t solely about promotion but sustainability of the club and I think Antwan has come to us with a plan to be sustainable and not just be a club that bounces from the First Division with a strong team to the Premier Division and then back down.”

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Published July 16, 2022 at 7:57 am (Updated July 16, 2022 at 7:36 am)

Antwan Russell takes on coaching role at Paget

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