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Omer Riza
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Job xxxx Football Coach
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Club as Coach Watford [Youth Coach]

2020 03 20 Retrieve

[Omer Riza’s remarkable journey of discovery] It wasn’t just football. I went for jobs in colleges, every job you could think of, I applied for. And I wasn’t getting them either. That’s when I started to lose a little bit of hope. A lot of the time it was ‘Oh, you are too qualified for this.’ But that’s not the point. If I’m too qualified, let me do my job as an over-qualified person so I can get on with my life. That was a really, really tough time

I’m really happy with the path I’m on at the minute and the circles I’m finding myself in because it’s helping me to develop. It’s been a journey that has been tough at times, but it’s made me who I am. From where I was to where I am now, the difference is massive and I just want to keep working hard. Watford is a great club and we’ve put a good team together with the Under-23s. I’m leading it at the moment as Hayden Mullins has stepped up to the seniors and we’ve managed to get a few first-team debuts this season. It’s going really well and hopefully we can continue to develop some really exciting players at this club

The programme was designed for coaches who are the minority and I think it’s been a good thing. Providing the people involved know what they are doing and have good qualities, I think it’s good and coaches are progressing because of it. The only downside of it is you could have people saying ‘He’s only got this job because of this or that.’ But that’s a little bit short-sighted and something that needs to change in terms of mentality. My placement was for last year and I think the FA liked what I was doing, the staff who were around like what I was doing and this year I’m the new possession coach for the Under-16s

It’s been great development for me. It’s something I love. I love being around coaches that are all striving to be worked leading and to be part of that is something that I’m very proud of. My training there has been second to none

There were things going on you couldn’t even imagine. There was the takeover taking place and people at the club wanted it to implode even more so those people could take over. So, nothing helped the situation in hand and the situation in hand for me was to protect the club, to see the season through with no damage, no fines and to act in a professional manner even if we were getting paid or not. I didn’t get paid any more money to do the job I did with the first-team. I was still on the wage I was taking when I was with the Under-18s. I just wanted to make sure I acted with integrity and got the best out of a very and situation. So, it was a lot of learning, I took a lot from it and it made me better and stronger.

[He’s settled at Watford] I love the club and everything that it stands for. It was part of my profile, my career, my pathway. When I left and turned down the contract, there was a lot of politics involved. I felt I was being suppresssed, things were happening where people were being pushed through and I felt I was being a bit hard done by at the time. I was young and maybe in hindsight I could have been more patient and just signed the contract, got on with it and seen where it took me. We had great players at the time. Patrick Vieira who was starting to make waves, Nicolas Anelka was coming through and doing really well. We were spoilt really with the players we had. But Dennis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars, they were just brilliant. Very good professionals, elite at what they did on the pitch and off the pitch in every way. My time there is one I will never forget

2020 03 26 Retrieve

[Omer Riza - the Arsenal academy star who spent 10 years and £200k to clear his name] Hopefully now all parties will have to pay for all the wrongs they created

[Three successful seasons with Denizlispor saw him snapped up by Trabzonspor, but then things started to go wrong for the frontman] We had a new manager come in and he had a problem with me. I don’t know what it was. He wasn’t playing me, he wasn’t putting me in training sessions. He was isolating me even though I was a senior player who had been bought for a bit of money. His behaviour wasn’t right; it wasn’t normal. Then, payments started to arrive late. They stopped paying wages. Not just to me but to the whole team. They started giving back-dated cheques, saying if you don’t sign them you, won’t be involved. All these things were going on. In my contract, there was a certain period, I think it was 100 days, that was the maximum that the club could pay me late without defaulting. So, one time they defaulted and I told them that they had broken my contract and I wasn’t putting up with the behaviour anymore. I had my wife and kids at home and I was going in at 8am in the morning and leaving the training ground at 10pm after triple sessions. So, I said enough was enough. I put in my letter to Fifa and the TFF saying Trabzonspor had broken my contract and I was done

[But Trabzonspor fought the case and said that by walking out on them, it was Riza, not the club, who had broken the terms of the contract] I couldn’t sign for anyone and if I did, I couldn’t play until the suspension was up. So, no-one would take me on. It took me 15 months before I signed a contract anywhere. They fined me £150,000 ($175,000) at the time as well. So, I took it further. I took it to CAS, I took it to the Swiss Federal Court, but they all found it inadmissible because when I went to Turkey, I got dual citizenship as they wanted me to play for the Turkish national team. By the time I’d done that, they said I was a Turkish citizen, so CAS couldn’t look at it and Fifa couldn’t look at it. They put me in a bad situation, really. I wasn’t protected by any laws, when I should have been. I was from England, I was a British citizen, I went abroad and I wasn’t protected by anything.

[Omer Riza admits what he went through in Turkey took a massive toll on the latter part of his playing career] Although I fought and fought, I lost a bit of my performance. It was a hard time. I don’t like that part of my career. I ended up going here, there and everywhere trying to find my feet. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s something that happened and it happened due what went on in Turkey. That’s another reason why I took this thing to the European Court of Human Rights

It’s been long-winded, it’s been a tough fight and it’s been very costly. I’ve spent over £200,000 over the last 10 years. I had no other option because if I hadn’t, the case would have been dismissed. It hasn’t just been me either. It’s been my father and my family helping to push me because there’s been many times when I’ve thought I cannot do this anymore. But having strong people around has helped keep me strong.

[Riza - who had a brief spell as Leyton Orient manager in 2017 - is pushing to ensure that his success in the courts will lead to much needed reform at the very top of Turkish football] They have found in my favour so the TFF now has to look at how their boards and tribunals work; they have to be impartial and not just selected by the TFF. There are a lot of friends involved in these processes. They are not impartial, so the TFF are having to look at that and rejig it. It’s become a case about player rights really because they are not protected enough there. Hopefully, those changes will now be made in time

2020 05 08 Retrieve

[The end of tiki-taka and gegenpressing? Football’s next tactical revolution] I think the game will always change. The one thing that is obvious it has got quicker and more physical and I think to be an elite player, you probably will need to have those attributes to be able to compete at the top level. At youth level there are two aims. One is to get the Under-23s boys up to a level where they are pushing for first-team football and the other is to develop the basics in the younger ones so they are ready to cope with the rigours of professional football and they have sound tactical understanding. I try to focus on a bit of everything as a coach. The intensity of sessions is paramount because if that isn’t there, they just get lost when they try to step up to the first team. So I try to implement that the best I can. Intensity wise, they train at a level that is replicated when they go up to the first team and tactically it’s really important they understand how to beat opposition, how to deal with opposition and be able to deal with making changes to either win a game or protect a game

One thing we know for sure is one player is never going to play under the same manager for a long period of time anymore, so they also have to be adaptable, they have to be able to play different ways and also in different positions. That’s why it’s important you don’t just give young players a narrow understanding of the game. You have to give them a broad one and you expose them to different type of systems, different types of tactics throughout the course of the season. At Watford we definitely provide that within our curriculum. We might play one system one term and then play a different system the following one. And it’s the same with the tactics, in respect of we might play a low block, a mid block or a high press. It’s to make sure we give them a whole range of different ways of learning the game so that they are adaptable