Former England international Gary Charles is stepping in to management as he takes charge of Nuneaton Town on a permanent basis.
The former Nottingham Forest, Derby County and Aston Villa right-back succeeds Dino Maamria, who departed last week to take over at Stevenage.
Chairman Lee Thorn couldn’t hide his excitement at the appointment, telling the club`s official Pitchero website: “I’ve known Gary a long time and admire his professionalism and commitment. It was always the plan to have him involved at Nuneaton from next season, so when the position of manager opened up it was an easy decision.”
“It’s an exciting new chapter,” stated Charles. “It’s nice to be back on the training ground and being around the players. We’ve got a good mix of older and younger professionals and I’ve had the chance to bring some of the youth team players in to train with the first team squad. It’s been a good first week or so and it was great to start off with a win against Walsall which gave us a good base carry to in to the Alfreton Town match on Good Friday.”
Charles has learned from some big names, including Arthur Cox, Brian Little, John Gregory, Harry Redknapp, Glenn Roeder, Graeme Souness and two-time European Cup winner Brian Clough.
Known as `The Brazilian` for his skill and flair during his playing days, Charles says that he’ll bring his “experience and knowledge” to the club “taking little bits, both good and bad, from all of the managers I’ve worked with.”
But it was Cloughie that had the biggest influence: “I used to clean his office and walk his dog but I’d travel with the first-team from a very young age and that was a great experience and huge benefit to my career.”
Born in East London, Charles came to prominence under Clough after the legendary Manager signed him as a 14-year-old.
Clough had been walking his dog around the training ground and, after noticing the pacey full-back during a trial, watched him for 15 minutes before signing him.
During his time with Forest he made several appearances for England at under-21 level before winning two senior caps under Graham Taylor.
Other highlights of his time with Forest included winning the Zenith Data Cup, as well as being a League and FA Cup runner-up.
That 1991 FA Cup Final is probably best remembered for Paul Gascoigne’s dreadful challenge on Charles. The England star ruptured his ligaments as he lunged in with a horrific challenge on the Nottingham defender, coming out far worse off.
After a transfer to Derby County, where he was a play-off final runner-up, Charles was named in the PFA Team of the Year before a million-pound move to Aston Villa where he won a League Cup.
There were also spells with Benfica and, childhood club, West Ham United, where he called time on his playing career after struggling with injuries.
Since his retirement Charles has gained his UEFA A Licence, been director of football at the University of Nottingham and had a spell as assistant-manager with Lincoln City.
Whilst there have been offers of managerial roles over the years, the timing was never right for Charles, who has also worked in player recruitment for Roy Keane at Sunderland and Ipswich as well as for Sean Dyche at Burnley.
Now, with his children grown up, the appointment came at the right time for Charles and the Boro.
With their near two-week lay-off for the international break, the new manager has had plenty of time to get to grips with his squad.
“The Walsall match was a great experience and a good chance to have a look at some of the players. I’d also seen them recently, when they won at Telford, so I know what they’re about.”
Having struggled with addiction, including during his playing career, Charles has since qualified as a counsellor and is Managing Director of GCSportsCare and GCCare – a service that helps people from the worlds of sport and commerce, that have struggled with addiction.
His primary focus now though is guiding Nuneaton through the end of this season: “I’m grateful to the chairman for bringing me in and giving me the opportunity to prove myself as a manager.”
Charles will have a busy start, after the trip to Alfreton Town tomorrow, the new boss will have just two days before he makes his proper debut at the LDJ Solicitors Stadium as Boro host Boston United on Easter Monday.