Former Wolves defender Rob Edwards is now looking for a new career in coaching after hanging up his boots. The article below is based on what appeared in the matchday programme for Tuesday’s game with Oldham.
The last time Wolves and Bradford locked horns – in the League Cup in August, 2007 – Rob Edwards was in the Wolves side which made progress to the next round.
Almost seven years on, and the popular defender has decided to hang up his boots as the wear-and-tear from several injuries hampered his efforts to find a new club.
He will be fondly remembered, particularly at Wolves and Blackpool where he enjoyed the majority of his appearances.
But with any luck, or more to the point plenty of hard work, Edwards is certainly keen to make sure he isn’t lost to the game completely.
Already well down the road with his coaching badges, the 30-year-old former Welsh international is ready to embark on a factfinding expedition picking up as much advice and guidance as possible in a bid to put his talents into practice.
First however that decision to retire. Having spent some time with Blackpool in pre-season until injury stepped in, how difficult was it to finally call it a day?
“It was twofold for me really in making the decision,” says Edwards.
“I think the injuries I have had have taken their toll and I have got wear and tear which is maybe slightly worse than players of my age.
“From training really hard as a youngster from 14, it’s just taken its toll and I don’t think my body was capable of the training and the demands of competing within football now.
“You have got to play between 30 and 40 games a year to be able to earn a contract for the following season, particularly when you get to my age, and I don’t feel capable of doing that now.
“My body is too sore and delicate and unfortunately keeps breaking down.
“The other side of it was a serious lack of options out there.
“Clubs were understandably looking at my last season when I think I played nine games because of injury and so that was always going to play a big part.
“I was kind of hoping something would come up but it hasn’t and so I’ve taken this decision and want to move on now and look forward to the next stage of my career.
“I’m only 30 years old and I think there’s a long way to go yet.”
Edwards is well aware that he is heading into an arena probably equally as competitive as that when he set about playing over a decade ago.
But with the experience gleaned from all levels of the game, coupled with a determination, willingness to learn and complete degree of professionalism, surely the right vacancy won’t be too far in coming?
“I’ve starting dong my coaching over the last couple of years, passing my B license and am now halfway through my A,” he explains.
“I’m trying to use all the contacts I’ve got and am speaking to people and going into clubs and looking at training sessions and watching games.
“I’m doing what I can to try and get something in the coaching side of it but it’s equally as tough as when you come through as a player.
“It’s competitive and you’re up against a large group of people and, at the moment, people with more experience than myself.
“I’m certainly under no illusions and there’s no way I feel like I can stroll into any job as a coach anywhere.
“But I do feel I’ve got plenty to offer.
“It’s going to require a lot of hard work but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
“I have still got a lot to learn but I’ve certainly got plenty of enthusiasm as well as some good experience as a player having operated at every level of the Football League and the Premier League as well.
“I’ve also got 15 international caps with Wales and feel fortunate to have had a good career and met some fantastic people along the way and made some friends within the game who will stay with me for life.”
Many of those people came during his four years at Wolves, where Edwards, cousin of current Wolves Academy coach Sean Parrish, rattled up 111 appearances and still feels privileged to have played.
Not only was it in on the football side but also the friendships forged, including Matt Murray, who has been through a similar retirement experience when injury cut short his own career back in 2010.
Indeed Edwards joined Robbie Keane, Joleon Lescott and Lee Naylor at Murray’s surprise presentation upon his retirement at half time of a game against Aston Villa early in that season.
“Matty is my best mate and has gone through this not so long ago and is now doing exceptionally well whatever he turns his hand to,” says Edwards.
“Seeing the way he has taken to life after football shows it can be done.
“Now I just have to realise that the football thing is not happening anymore – as much as I want it to, it is not.
“Matt is one of those people who I am grateful to have met during my time at Wolves and he and his family are very special to us from the time we have known them.
“It was such a shame that my playing time at Villa was affected by an ankle injury but then if that hadn’t happened I wouldn’t have come to Wolves and had such a thoroughly good time.
“Looking back my debut for Villa was amazing as it always is for a player and then my debut for Wales came not long after that.
“Wolves was brilliant and the best time of my career in terms of playing games and the people I was playing with at the time.
“It’s just a shame we weren’t more successful because with the squad we had we were capable of more.
“We played some really good football and to only make the play offs once during my time there was really disappointing.
“I loved it, and then equally loved the experience at Blackpool when we did manage to get promotion even though I wasn’t involved and fully and played maybe half of the games that season.
“In the Premier League I only played a couple of games for Blackpool, but I played at Villa where I’d started and also at Everton, the team I supported as a lad.
“And I also went to Norwich on loan that year and played under Paul Lambert which was great, especially as they got promoted as well.
“There are a lot of highlights and a lot is about the people I meet but Wolves especially because whenever I go back there I just get such a great and friendly welcome.”
Edwards has also been able to keep in touch with Wolves’ fortunes via some summarising work for Free Radio this season, something he hopes to continue, and has been impressed with what he has seen.
Now though, after a career spanning just over a decade and 236 career appearances, it’s about looking forward to what is ahead rather than dwell on what has gone before.
“Yes it is sad to retire as I’ve really enjoyed my career but I’m not allowing myself to look back too much,” he says.
“I’ve got those memories there which are great to have and look back on one day but all I am focused in now is looking forward to the next stage.”