Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ex-QPR's Joe Gallen Coaching and Playing Career Profiled

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[And meanwhile former manager Garry Waddock's Aldershot are headed back to the Football League: 17 points run away leaders after their win yesterday (with ex-QPRs Bull and Donnelly playing). Speaking a couple of days ago about promotion- BBC

JOE GALLEN
South London Press/Toby Porter - Joe Selecta

MILLWALL coach Joe Gallen, like Arsene Wenger,started coaching at the age of 26.

And already, 10 years later, he has been assistant boss at QPR, where he coached at every level of the club.

He's almost replicated that at Millwall now, after just five months at The Den, having coached the youth team and the reserves.

Gallen has now stepped into the gap created by the departure of Colin West and is acting as assistant to Kenny Jackett until a permanent appointment is made.

He already has an enviable CV, with a job as assistant manager at Exeter City from earlier this season to add to his name. That's not surprising, since he's always wanted to coach.

Hammersmith-born Gallen was the eldest of three footballing brothers - Kevin has played more than 500 games and scored 120 goals during a 16-year career at QPR, Huddersfield, and now MK Dons.

Steven was at QPR and Doncaster Rovers. "Dad was always playing football with us in the park," said Joe. "I played for Middlesex and Inner London, and that's when things started happening."

He joined Watford before he turned 10, and was a professional there for two years, and later joined Exeter, then managed by World Cup legend Alan Ball. Even then, Gallen was paying close attention to the boss's methods.

"I was already watching him and thinking 'I'll be doing what you're doing one day,' but I don't really know why I was thinking about it so early in my career," said Gallen. "Maybe I should have started coaching even earlier."

He also played for the Republic of Ireland U21s with Mark Kennedy and Mark Kinsella against Germany, who had the likes of Markus Babbel and Christian Ziege in their lineup.

Then-Eire boss Jack Charlton was another manager to watch closely. "He took training and we all paid attention," said Gallen. "His presence was a big thing for us at the time."

Gallen's most successful season was in the Shrewsbury Town team that won the old Third Division in 1994, scoring twice in 15 appearances. Already by then, though, he was being plagued by a back injury that would end his career five years later.

"In the end it just became too difficult to get on the pitch," said Gallen. "I had been scoring lots of goals at youth level, then suddenly, I could not play any more.

"I never stopped having phonecalls from people who wanted me to play.

"But then a doctor at Harley Street said to me: 'I haven't got a magic wand. Why don't you join the Stock Exchange?' It wasn't the answer I needed. By the end, there was no point in fighting the inevitable."

But then QPR head of youth development, the late Chris Gieler, offered him the job of coaching the U9s, at the age of 26. "I jumped at it," said Gallen. "Without realising it, he had given me a direction in life."

Within two years, his badges were done. Last season, after the departure of Ian Holloway, Gary Waddock was appointed caretaker and asked Gallen to be his assistant. Their first game in charge was a 1-0 win over Millwall at Loftus Road.

One of his players at the time was younger brother Kevin. "I hardly spoke to him then, even though we are really close - I didn't want the other players to think I was trying to get him in the team," said Joe. "I would try to treat him like any player. We kept it professional - but we would talk on the phone later about what we really thought.

"I'm not jealous of Kevin at all. I have travelled hundreds of miles to see him play. And if I give him feedback, he seems to listen."

Gallen decided to go back into youth coaching after Waddock departed.

"I didn't think it was right to make the jump up," said the Irishman.

Millwall approached him to be youth coach last summer, but he turned it down to be assistant at Exeter to manager Paul Tisdale and director of football Steve Perryman. But he couldn't rent out his London home, and when Millwall asked again, he accepted the offer, and enjoyed his few months training the youngsters again, working with Jackett again after they had both been in the staff at Rangers.

"The step up from the reserves to the first team is always the toughest for players," said Gallen. "We need more Ali Fuseinis. At the moment, Charlton and Palace are doing better at finding talent. But things will turn around."

Now he is an important figure in first-team decision-making, he can play some part in setting out the future vision for the Lions.

"A winning mentality is key," he said. "We have a really young team. The average age against Luton was 22.

"We have looked really exciting away from home. We have pace and energy and individual ability and can take players on.

"We want a team that gets the ball down and plays it forward quickly.

"The manager has been brave in choosing this route and emphasising passing and technique.

"That is exciting for the future. We've played with a bit of anxiety against teams with little to lose like Luton. But we can all see how promising it looks - and after the wins at Swansea and Yeovil, we know it's there." South London Press

Also: South London Press - Success touched by tragedy

JOE Gallen's leadership at youth level has been a big factor in QPR's recent success.

He brought 15 centre of excellence graduates into the first team, and coached two England internationals.

They also won their youth league. In Dean Parrett, his set-up also produced one of the most promising midfielders of his generation, signed by Spurs for £2million last season.

"We were skint every year but we were the envy of many academies," said Gallen.

"I am glad now the club has new owners, that there's some money there at last."

But Gallen also had to cope with a season of trauma - the death of two scholars, which saw four of his youth products being questioned over a tragic accident.

In June 2005, QPR youngster Kiyan Prince, 15, was been stabbed to death outside his school.

And when a Vietnamese student died under a train at Earls Court station in December 2006, youth player Harry Smart was also badly hurt.

Smart, 17, was reported to have been play-fighting on a team-mate's shoulders when he fell during the rush-hour on November 23, taking Tu Quang Hoang Vu, 25, who later died, with him. Smart's friends were questioned over the death.

Ray Jones, 18, had already played 37 times for the first team and scored six goals when he died in a car crash in August 2007. Gallen said: "It was a very difficult time because I was close to all those players and their families." South London Press