West Ham to Bahrain: Future is bright for Anthony Hudson
Life could have been so easy for Anthony Hudson. The son of former England international Alan Hudson, Anthony had football at his doorstep all his life.
As a youngster in the West Ham youth academy, Hudson shared a room with Michael Carrick and was a close friend of Frank Lampard – another player who knows what it is like to follow your father into football.
But Hudson wanted to do things differently and, since hanging up his boots in his mid-20s, has gone on a nomadic search for knowledge, experience and plenty of qualifications.
Hudson became the youngest person to acquire a UEFA Pro Licence – the highest coaching qualification in Europe – at the age of 31 and has already drawn favourable comparisons to Jose Mourinho.
Currently the manager of the Bahrain Under-23 side, Hudson has been a manager since the age of 27, working in the American second division – where he led Real Maryland from bottom place to the playoffs in one season – as well as with Newport in Britain.
When discussing Hudson’s fledgling career, it is so difficult not to mention the names he has worked with – Harry Redknapp has been his most vocal supporter as well as receiving coaching invites from Sir Alex Ferguson, Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers – and the football connection that runs in his veins.
But for Hudson, everything is about going your own way and sticking to a philosophy or ideology that you can persuade others to buy into.
“It takes time, you have to go out and learn (the game),” Hudson told Sport360°. “You’ve got to have so much conviction about how you want to play and know exactly how you will get others to play that way. For that reason, you have to learn, you have to get experience.
“I want to manage in the Champions League and the Premier League and at the World Cup, those are my ambitions; so I’ve never once thought about (doing anything else).
“I was ambitious as a player. I wanted to play at the highest level but when I realised that wasn’t going to happen, I turned to coaching. I knew I had time on my side and that I have all the attributes in terms of work ethic, discipline and sacrifice.
“I will give up anything to coach at the highest level and I believe I will. I don’t see any reason why I won’t. I have so many years ahead of me, I have so much belief in myself, I have had so many people at the highest level reinforce that – not that I need that. There’s never been anything else in my life.”
Hudson has spent his career trying to escape the family name that he has admitted came with a burden too heavy to carry. While Hudson is brimming with ambition, he is not unaware of the sacrifices that go with being a coach at the highest level and is determined to see as much football around the world as possible.
“I’ve been learning Spanish over the last few years because I want to go to South America or to a Latin country because I want to learn their style of football. To be in charge of a team at the top of world football, I think you have to have that kind of experience.
“I need to keep learning and keep knocking on doors and keep being successful. We just had a tournament in Qatar where we got to the finals – Bahrain had never got past fifth place before – so that was a big improvement. Next time we want to win it. Beyond that, I’m open (to changes) as long as it’s a progression.”
In Bahrain, Hudson had the chance to work with former Leicester City and one-time caretaker England manager Peter Taylor.
When Bahrain coach Peter Taylor and all his staff were sacked earlier this week, only Hudson was left standing. Hudson insists Bahraini football is improving and doesn’t feel that the scorching hot political climate there – that has seen players arrested or defecting – has had any bearing on the two managers’ ability to do their job.
“I’ve not even noticed (the pol-itical climate). Before I came here I heard there was some stuff, but I don’t know the full extent of that. I know there was a player in Australia and now he’s back. To be honest, Peter’s outlook was always – and I think this is why people respected him – that he picked players on ability and not what religion they are or anything else like that.
“Coming to Bahrain, it’s very different but I have learnt a lot from Peter in terms of man management.
“He’s an excellent coach, he’s very straight with players and staff. His ability to manage teams and upper management is very good.
“I came in at an Olympic level, so you can’t really have much effect on what comes up below you. But the Bahrain FA have brought in two very good Spanish coaches that were at Barcelona and Espanyol and they’re addressing programmes and structure. There is a lot of talent in Bahrain, a lot of natural talent, and they have a lot of quality, but they have a lot of bad habits.
“My main remit is to try getting the players (to play the game), get them experience in a semi-final or a final, get them playing the same way as the national team so that whenever Peter needs someone, he can just pop straight into the team.”
For all the enjoyment Hudson takes from Bahraini football, it is unlikely his bosses at the BFA will be able to hold on to him for long.
“My long term goal is to coach at the very highest level of football and be successful and win. I think, along the way, you try to find a philosophy that works and wins. And one thing I was very mindful of is that I don’t want to go England and be the same as everyone else.
“Teams play the same, very direct; so it’s very important to go and learn how I think the game should be played and find a club and an opportunity that will allow me to do that.”
1998: Left West Ham United youth team
2000: Left Luton Town after a brief spell
2002: Left NEC Nijmegen
2003: Worked as an academy coach at AC Diablos SC
2005: Became an Assistant Manager at USL Second Division team Wilmington Hammerheads
2008: Appointed Head Coach at Real Maryland at the age of 27. Maryland had the worst record in the league at the time of the appointment
2009: Guiding Real Maryland to the US Second Division play-offs, losing in the quarter-finals
2010: Left Real Maryland to learn under Harry Redknapp at Tottenham Hotspur
2011: Joined Conference National club Newport County, leading them to ninth place
2011: Sacked from Newport County after a poor start to the season
2012: Appointed Bahrain Under- 23 coach and gained UEFA Pro Licence