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Simon Darcy Clifford is an English football coach, and a businessman known for introducing Brazilian training techniques into the UK with his Brazilian Soccer Schools.
|Full name||Simon Darcy Clifford|
|Date of birth||1970 (age 49–50)|
|Place of birth||Loftus, Middlesbrough, England|
Brought up in Loftus, Redcar and Cleveland, he moved to Leeds to study at the age of eighteen. It was there that he started his teaching career in a primary school. He began training the children of the school using techniques derived from Brazilian football. He soon began an after school club that would become the first of a now worldwide chain of soccer schools. In 1997, he borrowed £5000 from a teachers' union to fund a trip to Brazil, where he spoke with Zico and Rivelino, and watched them coach. Having developed a close friendship with Brazil midfielder Juninho, Clifford used the knowledge he had learned and his own initiative to create a syllabus.
Once back in England, Clifford blended his academic knowledge of coaching and his experience as a teacher to develop his own coaching programme. In 1998, he started a Brazilian-style soccer school for youngsters in Leeds, teaching Brazilian skills as well as introducing his students to futebol de salão, unheard of in England at the time.
Clifford then set out to train his first batch of young footballers with his new methods, with a notably different philosophy, preferring to concentrate on improving ball skills and close control and an even greater emphasis on fitness and physical strength. He has since expanded his "Brazilian Soccer Schools" school franchise to other regions and countries, even expanding overseas to the likes of Hong Kong, Nigeria, South Africa, United States, Australia, the Netherlands, Thailand, Canada, Malaysia, Bermuda, Singapore, Mexico and Poland.
Clifford is well regarded in the football industry; however, he failed to emerge onto the professional scene after being recruited by Sir Clive Woodward in December 2004, to become his assistant coach at Southampton. After falling out with the coaching establishment there, he returned to his own non-league club, Garforth Town, as manager.
In 2003 Clifford purchased the Northern Counties East Football League First Division club Garforth Town. At the time of the purchase Clifford expressed the desire to take the club, then at the tenth level of the football pyramid, into the FA Premier League within twenty years. The club has made good progress, gaining two promotions during Clifford's two full seasons as manager. Clifford has managed to attract a number of his high-profile friends to play for the team including: Lee Sharpe, Sócrates and Careca. The club now plays in the Unibond First Division North league.
In April 2009, Clifford guided his team to the final of the West Riding County Cup to face Bradford Park Avenue. Heavy underdogs Garforth won 5–4 on penalties to claim the cup, a trophy which has been held by Leeds United among others.
After three seasons of managing Garforth Town, Clifford made the decision to step aside as manager of his club. This was to focus and develop more quickly his SOCATOTS and Brazilian Soccer Schools programmes.
In 2001 Clifford also introduced his pre-school coaching programme SOCATOTS, the first such programme in the world to teach basic ball skills, movement and co-ordination exercises to children from as young as six months old. The programme also teaches language, numeracy and colour identification and the children attend with their parents who are an integral part of the classes. This programme, like Clifford's Brazilian Soccer Schools is also a franchise and is running throughout the UK as well as internationally in places such as the Netherlands, Canada, Dubai, Poland and Singapore.
He lauds Everton coach, Tosh Farrell as "light years ahead of anyone else within the academy system". Tosh said: "Our Under 7, Under 8, Under 9, Under 10 Academy players now use Futebol de Salão in 75% of their training. Our U9’s who have used the ball for two years are one of the strongest age groups in the club".
Brazilian Soccer Schools is now the largest football coaching organisation in the world, with over one million children regularly attending sessions around the globe. Players such as Micah Richards and John Bostock are the most successful graduates to date, though there are an estimated 1,700 youngsters working their way through the professional academy ranks.
Over the last 12 years, Clifford has worked with Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott among others, and following his departure from Southampton, Cardiff City approached him with a view to appointing him in a similar role at Ninian Park.
In September 2008, Clifford was approached by a South African consortium looking to purchase Newcastle United Football Club, with the party offering the 38-year-old a role as Academy Director as well as shares in the club. In the same month, he was also approached by Tottenham Hotspur midfielder David Bentley, with the England international asking Clifford to devise an elite training programme and to undertake one-to-one sessions with him. Work commitments, however, saw Clifford turn down the opportunity.
The following noted players have all graduated from Simon Clifford's BSS system:
Clifford worked as Technical Coach for the two lead actresses of Bend It Like Beckham, Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra. Clifford also performed the same role in the film There's Only One Jimmy Grimble with Robert Carlyle and Ray Winstone as well as the more recent Kicking and Screaming. He choreographed and advised on the film The Damned United.
In November 2008, Clifford was approached by Setanta Sports with a view to him doing a regular blog for the company's website. His first, a critique of the state of the game from grassroots level up, was particularly damning of Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp, while subsequent articles have highlighted problems within the game. In May 2011, Clifford was made an official Yorkshire Patron for his work promoting the region around the world.
- "Youth Development: Making a Splash". FourFourTwo. Haymarket Media. September 2007. Archived from the original on 7 September 2008. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "Secrets of Samba football". BBC Sport. British Broadcasting Corporation. 23 April 1999. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- [Yorkshire Evening Post : Football guru to promote Yorkshire tourism]
- Broadbent, Rick (28 November 2007). "Brazilian factory where child labour enhances national pride". London: Times. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "Teacher finds Brazil's soccer secret in the slums". 1 February 1998. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
- Broadbent, Rick (20 March 2006). "Clifford finds his way again". London: Goal.com. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
- "Coach Clifford leaves Southampton". BBC. 15 November 2005. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "Brazilian star joins non-leaguers". BBC. 11 March 2005. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "Samba stars to join Garforth Town". BBC. 27 October 2004. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- Winter, Henry (13 September 2005). "Micah Richards' fire gives fans warm feeling". London: Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 22 April 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "Keeping uppie with Freestyling World Champ". BBC. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "Interview – Parminder Nagra". BBC. Retrieved 27 August 2007.
- "The Damned United EXCLUSIVE: Simon Clifford on doing Brian Clough justice". Goal.com. Retrieved 31 May 2010.