Mark Beard exclusive: Why Brighton academy so different; Millwall fans still talk about 'that' Arsenal goal

Tribal Football
Mark Beard exclusive: Why Brighton academy so different; Millwall fans still talk about 'that' Arsenal goal
Mark Beard exclusive: Why Brighton academy so different; Millwall fans still talk about 'that' Arsenal goal
Mark Beard exclusive: Why Brighton academy so different; Millwall fans still talk about 'that' Arsenal goalFlashscore
In his own words when speaking to TribalFootball, his time at Millwall and that day were the highlights of Beard's career: Every Millwall fan remembers that moment - when I go there everyone that I meet mentions that goal."

But like most careers in the Football League, as much as days like Beard's one at Highbury are special, it was not all sunshine and rainbows. After leaving boyhood club Millwall for Yorkshire and Sheffield United, Beard spent three more seasons in the First Division before joining Southend United permanently in the summer of 1998. The club were tight for money after being relegated to the Third Division the season before Beard joined and to make matters worse several key players left that summer.

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Southend was the most challenging period in Beard's career, and it also marked the end of his time in the Second Division. After two spells at Southend, two years in Marbella and a non-league merry-go-round - Beard's playing career came to an end in 2011 at Tooting & Mitcham United.

Can you tell us a bit about the best and worst time in your playing career? Where were you the happiest and where, if anywhere, did you not feel so at home?

My best experience was Millwall because it is the team I supported as a boy. I signed for them when I was 14 years old, and I made my debut at 18 years old. I made my debut very young, and I remember that we won that match 4-1 and I was a man of the match.

During my time there we had different successes. I remember we beat Arsenal 2-0 at Highbury in the FA Cup and I scored the first goal. When I go (back there) everyone mentions to me about that game and that goal. After Arsenal, we beat Chelsea in their stadium and yeah, we had a real season that year.

Regarding the most difficult experience, I would say Southend because it was a struggle all the time, we didn't have money, so we had a lot of financial problems and that was the biggest struggle during my career."

You left your boyhood club Millwall for Sheffield United in the summer after that famous FA Cup run. What have you made of your former club this season in the Premier League and their struggles after last seasons promotion?

The fact is that any team that comes from the Championship, it is hard to play in the Premier League and everyone expects them to go down again. Also, the financial aspect affects the performances of these teams because they don't have the financial powers of the other teams to buy better players.

Sheffield has been okay for me, and Wilder has come and has done a good job stabilising the ship for a little bit. It is going to be tough for them because there are a lot of good teams in the Premier League, but I hope they get out of the relegation zone and stay in the league."

You mentioned him a bit there, but can you explain further your thoughts on how Chris Wilder has done on his return to the club?

It is difficult for him because he has come during the season, and he has not created the teams and didn't pick the players that he wants so he could create his philosophy.

He is doing his best and trying everything to fix the things there but is a very difficult task not only for him but for whoever manager that would have been in his position."

Outside of your former employers, what have you made of the current Premier League season and this enthralling title race?

For me, it is the best (season) ever because in general we see two teams fighting for the title but this season 3 teams are fighting for it. It will be a battle until the end, but I think Liverpool will win the title. I think it's written in the stars that Klopp will win the league.

Arsenal are better this season, but I think they are one year far from winning it and City due to their qualities will fight until the end."

And as for a league you know well from your playing days, what have you made of the equally gripping Championship season?

"Very interesting season because it seemed like Leicester would win it and now, they have slipped, and Ipswich Town have passed them. Also at the bottom, there is a great battle between different teams, and I hope that Millwall (aren't) in that relegation battle.

Also in this league, everyone can beat everyone, and things can change very quickly so I think it will be a tough battle until the end."

Since retirement from football you have delved into the coaching world including the u-18s manager of a Brighton side that included the likes of Evan Ferguson. How have you found the world of coaching?

It has been amazing, and I have enjoyed every moment of it. An important experience for me as a coach was {at) Brighton where some of the players that are in the first team now have been coached by me like Ferguson, Moran, Molumby.

Since I left Brighton, I have been the first team manager or assistant in different clubs where I have learned a lot, and I enjoyed every (experience). Also, with the teams I have worked with, I have achieved success (through) promotions.

Now I am without a team but working with a football agency in Barcelona trying to help them identify different football talents and waiting for the right offer to come."

As someone who has worked with Ferguson before his name was spoken about as one of the best emerging talents in the Premier League, what was it like working with him and what do you think he can go on to achieve in his career?

From the first moment he came in we trained him as a first-team player because we saw the great talent he had and the great potential in his disposal. We didn't teach him only the technical stuff but we taught him how to play in the first team and we prepared him for that part.

Other academies don't do it; at Brighton we prepare the youth players from a young age for the first-team ambient and for the level and the requirements that the first team has in a Premier League environment.

And I am that confident that Evan Ferguson will be the most expensive footballer in a couple of years."

Finally with the Euros on the horizon, I have to ask you about England. Can they live up to the expectations and win it?

We have got the best team in the world, but I think we have not got the best manager in the world. I think Gareth is too safe in his approach, too cautious and this affects the player's performance.

Because they are not able to express themselves 100% due to the tactics and strategy Southgate uses.

When Gareth came in the beginning it was like a breath of fresh air but with time he got very cautious and safe during the matches and that's why I say we don't have a chance to win the tournament and it is very frustrating for me to see this team with such great talented players playing so safe and cautious."

- adapted by Harry Dunnett