Kenna heads to US

By
Updated: July 11, 2011

Former Republic stalwart and Premier League winner, Jeff Kenna is planning an escape to the sun after becoming exasperated with the lack of coaching chances in English football.

Frustrated Kenna, who was part of the Birmingham side that won promotion in 2002 and won the Premier League with Blackburn, has not had a permanent position for nearly two years.

The 40-year-old ex-Ireland international finished his playing career with Kidderminster in 2008 to become manager at Galway United.

And, having led the seemingly doomed outfit to safety, he returned to his hometown to take the reins at St. Patrick’s’ Athletic.

But since leaving Dublin he has found it impossible to break back into the game back in England.

It seems neither his part in Birmingham’s climb back into the top flight nor Blackburn Rovers’ first Premier League title has counted for anything when it comes to career opportunities.

“I have got all my licences. Pro, A licence, B licence – the lot,” Kenna says.

“It is disappointing but being a realist about it I am one of 400-500 players who retire every year.“I would say 80 per cent of those don’t know anything other than football and the natural progression is to go into coaching and management.

“Unfortunately there are only 80-90 odd jobs. It’s very difficult, people tend to work with who they have worked with before. The difficulty is getting in.

“Once you get in it seems the same heads get all the different jobs, it’s like a merry-go-round. People have been sacked one week and been appointed somewhere else another week

“It’s a weird industry for that, you would presume they had been sacked because it hadn’t worked out – failed for want of a different word.

“So to walk straight into another job is strange.”

Brum-based Kenna has become so disillusioned with the closed shop that he has taken the bold decision to move his family stateside.

He hopes to hear in the next few weeks whether he has been successful in attaining a visa. It is a career move well travelled with the likes of Stevie Nicol, Mo Johnston and Frank Stapleton all moving into US management in recent years.

“We’ve been working on it in fine detail for 12 months and it’s very exhausting,” Kenna admits. “The amount of detail they require is amazing.”

It is the second time Kenna has thought about leaving the British Isles.

He left Blues for Derby in 2004 and spent two good years at Pride Park. At that point he was set to migrate to Majorca only to pull out at the last minute.

Instead he played at Kiddy where he finished his coaching badges and then jumped at the chance to manage Galway.

“It this was an opportunity to get some experience,” he said. “I went over when the club were seven games into the season, rooted to the bottom of the table and everyone had written them off for relegation.“We ended up staying up with a win on the last day of the season.

“It was a fantastic year, we got to the semi-finals of both cups.”

Then came the chance to make the step up at St Pats who were in the Europa League.

“It was a tough time, the financial meltdown in the league was just starting then.

“But we had a great run in Europe. we got to the penultimate qualifying game where Steaua Bucharest beat us to go into the group stage.

“I came back in September 2009 and I have been applying for stuff since and had no joy.

“I am currently doing a bit of coaching education with the FAI but it’s not something long term I would like to stick at.“I would like to get back into coaching but obviously you need a job.”

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