Lord Wandsworth Leaderboard

Former England football star tells Ashville Sixth Formers hard work is key to success

Published by Ashville College on Monday 12th of December 2022

A former professional footballer, who played for England and captained Tottenham Hotspurs, Hull and Nottingham Forest, has told Sixth Formers at a Harrogate school that hard work and determination are the key to a successful career.

Michael Dawson, who is now a Sky soccer pundit, also told the Ashville College pupils that for mental health reasons he steers clear of social media and advised the current England players to do likewise.

Michael, who was born in Northallerton and grew up in Leyburn, was the latest guest speaker at the independent school and was interviewed by the College’s Head of Sixth Form, Leanne Norton.

Others speakers this term have included investigative journalist Jeremy Hunter, York Outer MP and former pupil Julian Sturdy, digital marketing specialist and former pupil Nathan Kemeny, investment manager Vanessa Eve, and international banker Simon Figures.

Michael told his young audience of the challenges he faced in his career, including injury and the time when a new manager arrived at Spurs, and dropped him from the first team.

“I was playing for England at the time, but as soon as the new manager arrived I lost my first team place. What I did was to put my head down and train! I was 26, good enough to play for England, but not for my club’s first team.

“The manager didn’t like me, so I set about changing his opinion of me. People either like or dislike you, and in his case it was the latter. However, through sheer hard work and determination I managed to change his opinion, and I was back in the first team.”
Of social media, Michael said: “I’m not on it and I’m not a big fan of players being on it. Whilst you might get loads of positive comments, just one negative post can stick in your mind and affect your game. What I’m saying is don’t read it. I only like positivity, not negativity.”

Speaking about playing for England, he said: “It doesn’t get any better than putting on an England shirt. I was playing with the likes of John Terry, Sol Campbell and David Beckham, and I have to admit I was incredibly nervous about playing alongside him (Beckham).”

Talking of his career, Michael said that playing professional football has a limited lifespan, and towards the end of his career he was looking at what to do afterwards.

“At the age of 30, I was starting to think about retirement. I was starting to do a bit of TV and took my coaching badges. I was looking to retire at 35 but played on until 37. My career ended at the start of Covid.

“I do miss the buzz, the team spirit. I was doing the job I love. I was never the best player, but I was 100 per cent committed. My success was all down to hard work.”

Leanne Norton, Ashville’s Head of Sixth Form, said: “It was an absolute pleasure to interview Michael, and to hear about his career as a professional footballer.

“The message he put across on a number of occasions was that through hard work and determination anyone can reach the top in any profession, and not just football.

“Our speaker series is part of our ‘Future Ready’ programme, which is designed to get our pupils ready for life beyond the classroom, and our guests are helping them appreciate what is needed to succeed in life.”
Former England football star tells Ashville Sixth Formers hard work is key to success - Photo 1Former England football star tells Ashville Sixth Formers hard work is key to success - Photo 2
Windlesham House rectangular 18 Oct 2023
Aysgarth An Exciting New Chapter