Distin says knowing that as a black player he wouldn’t get the “same chance” in management put him off going into coaching
Last Updated: 06/07/20 8:10pm
Former Premier League defender Sylvain Distin says he could have been a better player if he had worked under a black coach or manager.
Distin began his career in his native France before being loaned from Paris Saint-Germain to Newcastle in 2001, after which he spent the rest of his career in England, with stints at Manchester City, Portsmouth, Everton and Bournemouth.
Asked whether he would have benefited from having more black coaches around during his playing days, Distin told Sky Sports News: “Yeah, definitely.”
“I think what you want, and that starts not only as an adult but as a kid first, you want heroes. You want to recognise yourself in someone.
“I had that with players. There are a very important number of black people who play football, but then when it comes to managers you look around and you try to recognise yourself in someone and you don’t.”
The under-representation for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) coaches in English football has come under increased scrutiny amid the prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Premier League, EFL and PFA last week announced a new scheme to combat the issue.
Starting next season, the scheme will give six coaches a 23-month work placement at EFL clubs per campaign, with PFA members at any stage of their career able to apply.
Distin, who ended his career with 469 Premier League appearances, says that limited opportunities for black coaches was a major factor in his decision not to go into coaching following his retirement in 2016.
“I know it’s really difficult,” Distin said. “It seems the obvious second career. When you stop football, everybody thinks you’re going to be a manager.
“But I’ve played in the Premier League all my career, I don’t see myself being in a very low league.
“And then you have to look around and look for examples, players that retired in the past few years, and what they do, what level they started, and you realise that through your career, you never had any black managers.
“And you realise that when you look around, you even have friends who tried and it’s proven difficult. The reason why – I have no idea, but I was in the mindset where I just didn’t want to fight for it.
“I just didn’t want to fight to prove that I belong here. You just want to have the same chance as everyone and I just felt at the time that it wasn’t the case.”