Crofts: It’s a great learning environment

After a professional playing career that spanned almost 20 years, Andrew Crofts admits the transition he’s made into a player-coach role in Albion’s under-23s has been an enjoyable experience, as he continues to share and expand his knowledge on and off the pitch.

By Kieran Cleeves • 12 September 2019

By Kieran Cleeves
Andrew Crofts takes part of the session with the under-23s

The 35-year-old returned in July for a third spell on the south coast, following two stints playing for the Seagulls, and he spoke positively about his steps into coaching and the support he’s received since taking up the role.

He said, “It’s been brilliant since I’ve come in. Fair play to Simon Rusk and Shannon Ruth — I’ve stepped into an environment where it’s just like being in the first team.

“The good habits, the high standards, day in day out – they demand the highest and that’s what the boys demand as well.

By Kieran Cleeves
Andrew Crofts gives instructions on the training field

“You’re going to have off-days now and then, but they’re young players who are learning and there are always going to be bumps along the road.

“It’s also a great learning environment for me, but I’m keen to keep my boots on and help the boys with that experience as well.”

Crofts, who made 24 Premier League appearances for Norwich City after leaving the Withdean Stadium for Carrow Road in 2010, made his first appearance for Simon Rusk’s team in the Trophy last week.

By Paul Hazlewood
Andrew Crofts in action against AFC Wimbledon earlier this month.

Albion recorded an impressive 2-0 win over League One side AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow, and Crofts, who played 90 minutes, commented on where his focus needs to be when taking to the field.

“When I’m playing I’ve got to be a player," he continued. "Simon asked me to be a player and just do what I do on the pitch. It was good advice really, because that’s how I think they’ll learn from me.

“I’ve always spoke as a player; I’ve been captain for different teams, so that’s a natural thing. But hopefully there will be times where I see things and I’ll be able to guide them.

“However, when I’m out there, I think I have to just play my natural game, and hopefully that will rub off on the boys.”

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