From wanting to go to university and travel the world, to having played in over 350 EFL games during his senior career… we caught up with a Brewers favourite Shaun Barker to see what he likes about working for Burton Albion Academy.
After Shaun retired at the end of the 2017-18 season, he re-joined the club but this time as a Player Performance coach.
He said: “I noticed that loads of the players had team objectives but I wanted to be a little bit more specific and direct my attention to individuals, so being a player performance coach allows me to oversee their individual action plans.
“What you offer when you’ve played is first-hand knowledge of what it takes, so I go through their match clips to show the lads the things that they’re doing in matches, whether it’s their strengths or weaknesses, and we talk about it and go from there.
“It’s all about the stuff that’s individual to them!”
Since gaining experience at a range of professional clubs, Shaun understands what it takes to be a player, and especially how to get the trust of the fans. Therefore he puts this across to the Burton Albion Academy players when helping them develop as both players and people, on and off the pitch.
“It makes it seem more approachable and reachable to the fans when they see players who wear their heart on their sleeve who give their best.
“If you’re rubbish, you’re rubbish and the fans could accept it and it didn’t matter because they knew you would try. And if you are great, great!
“Being a relatable player is getting less and less nowadays. There’s no connection with the fans like there used to be and that’s why people like Jake Buxton are still loved by their fans because they’re relatable.
“It feels like it’s just your mate that’s playing football, and that is what makes a great player.”
Since Shaun has always been around youngsters due to his family fostering 180 children over the years, it would be fair to say Shaun doesn’t just think of the job as football orientated; he takes it within his stride to be a mentor and take on a teacher role.
“I’ve always been around kids and I love working with people so I just like to help others and help them become the best possible versions of themselves that they can be.
“I enjoy what I do. I love the conversations I have with the boys and I try to tell them it’s not about wanting it, it’s about doing your best with whatever you do. I tell them it’s best to give everything you’ve got and even if it falls short, you’ll be able to hold your head up high and be proud of yourself.”
Despite the fact that Shaun didn’t actually want to go into football as a young adult, he is thrilled to be back at the Brewers as the Player Performance Coach, as he finds helping and directing the kids very rewarding and thrilling.
“This role of mine has grown organically and I think there’s not many clubs of our size with such a new academy that have a player involved in this kind of job and role which makes it very special to me.
“I feel very privileged to be given it and I’m giving it my all. Where it leads I’m still unsure but that’s exciting and we’ll see where it leads us.
“My aim is to be as beneficial and as helpful as I possibly can to the players, to help them develop to become better footballers."