Former Myerscough College and University Centre football student, Will Still, is the youngest Head Coach in any of Europe’s top leagues.
Will is in charge at Stade de Reims, in the French Ligue 1, and at just 30-years-old, has already built up a highly impressive CV in the professional game.
Last week, Will generously gave up his time to speak to current Myerscough football students, explaining all about his journey so far, his ambitions for the future, and give a fascinating insight into his tactics, analysis and footballing philosophy.
Will said: ‘’I had an amazing experience at Myerscough and it’s the best place to learn.
‘’I couldn’t thank them enough. The staff are some of the best I’ve come across in my career.
‘’Myerscough gave me the ideal opportunity to develop as a person and a coach. To be a top flight manager at the age of 30 is completely crazy.
‘’If you want to move into the professional game, Myerscough really offers you that possibility.
‘’If you get the opportunity to get on the course, my advice would be to listen, watch, take as much information in as possible, but also to be brave and push yourself out of your comfort zone to really progress. Don't just go through the motions as would do at school or Uni, because Myerscough really is a different world.
‘’I really loved my time at Myerscough College and learned a huge amount about football, coaching, different cultures, but also and probably most importantly about myself. I grew up, I became a young adult. Coming from a different country and living on my own at college, I had to sort myself out and face the fact that I no longer had my parents to fall back on. Everyone makes you feel very welcome and there is always someone who is ready to listen to you and help.
‘’So I became a better person I think, as well as a much better coach and analyst. Myerscough was the start of my career and hopefully will help others in their career too.’’
Will has English parents, but was born and grew up in Belgium. After moving to England to be part of University Centre Myerscough’s foundation degree study programme in Football Coaching, Will initially moved into the professional game back in Belgium, starting off at Sint Truiden VV, in the second Division in Belgium, as a video analyst. In his first season the club won the league and were promoted to Belgium Pro League (1st Division). After two months, he followed Head Coach, Yannick Ferrera, to Standard Liège, where they won the Belgian FA Cup and qualified for the Europa League in that first season.
Early in the following season, the club decided to fire the entire technical staff after a change of directors and board at the club. At 25, he went on to K Lierse SK. Will was then asked by the club to take over as caretaker manager, with the club second bottom in the table. After three games in charge, the club's President asked Will to take over for the rest of the season. They finished second in the league, just missing out on promotion, and Will had become the youngest Head Coach in the history of Belgian Football and was statistically the best coach in Belgium that season.
After financial problems at the end of the season the club folded, and Will took up a role as Assistant First Team Coach at KFCO Beerschot Wilrijk, who also play in Belgium's second division.
He returned to Standard Liège after a first, short spell as an assistant coach, but came back to the Stade Auguste-Delaune ahead of this season, before soon becoming a number one in the French top tier.
Now in charge at Ligue 1 Stade de Reims, Will first stepped up from his role as assistant and oversaw an impressive 0-0 draw with the reigning champions PSG in early October. A few days later he was named head coach on an interim basis to replace Oscar García, the appointment coming in the week he celebrated his 30th birthday. After five more games without losing, he was confirmed as coach permanently during the break for the World Cup, and has since enjoyed the most successful start for any Reims coach in France’s top flight, including keeping seven clean sheets in 11 games.
Dave McCann, Myerscough’s Head of Football, said: ‘’Our football study programmes enjoy a fantastic reputation for developing and preparing our students for employment in a variety of roles across the football industry.
‘’Practically, we have helped a number of players break into professional football at various levels across the football pyramid, reflecting our fantastic practical football provision. Meanwhile, we have also helped many students to develop into excellent coaches, working in professional football, in the UK and beyond.
‘’Will is a fantastic example of a student who embraced the opportunities our HE programme provides, pushing himself to learn, grow and develop. It is a pleasure to see his fantastic progression over in Belgium and now France, and we will continue to watch his progress with interest.
‘’We wish him the best, and hope Will's progress can inspire the next intake of students at Myerscough.’’