OUR Publications Editor Dave Bowler sits down with the characters woven into the fabric of West Bromwich Albion. Up next - Mark Naylor.
Mark on his first involvement with the Baggies…
“As a 16-year-old I came to the club and played against Albion in a game for Kidderminster Harriers.
“I remember the game being played, and I think I did alright. After the game I got told by Kidderminster’s Centre of Excellence Manager at the time that Albion wanted to take me on trial.
“It was massive for me, coming from a West Bromwich Albion family and background. It was a club that I had always looked at and followed and been to The Hawthorns to watch.
“For me and the family it was a huge thing.”
On moving into coaching…
“I was only here really as a player for six months.
“I found out really quickly that the pressures of the game affected me quite a lot. I struggled to deal with the psychological side of the game, which is something now that really interests me working as a coach.
“I couldn’t really deal with playing in front of crowds and the pressure that came with coming here every day to be the best player that I could possibly be, and I’m quite open about it now and I speak with the goalkeepers regularly about it.
“You’ve got to be able to deal with pressure and goalkeeping is probably about 80% psychological in my opinion.
“Technically I was always capable, tactically I always understood the game, physically I was probably at that time everything that people would want in terms of height.
“But that psychological side is what I struggled with, so I made a decision quite early that I was going to come out of playing and because I always loved training I thought that the progression was to go into coaching.”
On his perfect goalkeeper…
“I think it’s very individualised. Different goalkeepers that you work with have certain strengths and certain weaknesses.
“I think because of our strong DNA at the football club, especially with the Gaffer, Jimmy Shan and Neil Cutler being around the first-team, we want to play a certain style of football.
“West Bromwich Albion has always had a history of producing footballing teams that want to play attractive styles and win football games.
“So a goalkeeper for me is somebody that protects the goal, first and foremost, but also I think to be able to be proactive in possession of the ball and be able to work within the team.”