Paul Green puts fitness first on his welcome return to Doncaster Rovers
Green is back at Doncaster Rovers, the club where he made his name during the most golden period in the club’s history in the noughties and he has two other Keepmoat legends and ex-team-mates for company in manager Richie Wellens and James Coppinger – who works in a mentoral role.
The trio were instrumental in Rovers’ rise to the Championship in 2007-08 and played in the club’s finest hour when they reached the second-tier after an absence of half a century by famously beating Yorkshire rivals Leeds United in the League One play-off final at Wembley.
They may say ‘never go back’, but for new Rovers fitness coach Green, there was a certain symmetry about his return.
While he may not have managed to play in the Football League at the ripe old age of 40 unlike Coppinger – despite being as fit as ever – Green is working in a role which is surely the next best thing from a personal perspective.
Green told The Yorkshire Post: “Throughout my football career, I always thought it would be nice to finish at Doncaster in some capacity.
“To see this side of it and help the young lads out with not just the fitness side and strength and conditioning but my coaching experiences is great as well.
“I was about 32 at Oldham where I started to do my personal training qualifications. I also have badges on the coaching side and have got my Uefa B (licence) and am on with my A now.
“It is something I always wanted to do. It’s a perfect fit, my hometown club really and where it all began. I am really excited to be part of the coaching staff.
“Richie lives and breathes football and as a manager, that’s what you have got to do. He was a very clever footballer and he thought about the game all the time. I always knew he’d go into management, definitely.
“With all the staff, we try to give input as best we can in being ex-players. Copps doing the psychology side of it means we are picking each other’s brains and we have had enough games between us where we understand it.
“We all love the club and know what it means to us and only want the best for it.
“If you have people like that around the club, you have a good chance.”
The end of Green’s playing career in the Football League was pretty much made for him in the summer of 2020, when he was one of the unfortunate victims of the Covid-19 pandemic as clubs were forced to cut costs during football’s shutdown.
The midfielder had just played his part in Crewe Alexandra’s promotion to League One, but at the age of 37 and coming out of contract, he knew he was vulnerable. He was freed by the Cheshire club in June 2020.
The former Leeds United and Rotherham United player holds no hard feelings and as he wisely acknowledges, things happen for a reason.
A business partner in the A1 Football Factory in Knottingley – a training academy serving youngsters from the Pontefract and Castleford area – Green was kept busy with his commitments at the indoor football centre ahead of his Rovers return.
Green commented: “When I went to Crewe with David (Artell), he really got my enthusiasm for football again.
“I was at Oldham and to be honest as a footballer, it was a bit of a dark time and I was not really enjoying my football.
“It was a bit of a new lease of life going to Crewe, playing the Crewe way – it reminded me a bit of my early times at Doncaster and I fell in love with the game again and it showed with getting promoted from League Two.
“I was 37 and with Covid hitting, it killed all the budgets for the clubs. If that didn’t happen, I’d have probably had a year there in League One with them.
“It was a bit disappointing in getting promoted from League Two and being a big part of it and then being a bit unlucky with what happened with Covid. It was a bit gutting, but things happen for a reason and I have moved on.”
An indefatigable box-to-box midfielder who was the heartbeat of that Rovers side who achieved promotion under Sean O’Driscoll in 2008, his suitability for a fitness role in his post-playing days will surprise no Doncaster supporter who watched him play.
It seems the perfect second career in football for Green, who learned plenty under the command of O’Driscoll – but also another influential figure in Yorkshire football over the past decade or so.
Green said: “Sean was massive. He got a nutritionist in and helped us get our heads around that and recovery. That played a big part (in becoming a fitness coach), but I’d say Paul Warne at Rotherham did as well.
“He went from a player to a fitness coach and was great to have around the place and understood what your body was going through. I thought it was something I’d love to get into.”