Spanish stay allowing Arnott to follow in footsteps of legends

Darren Arnott
Darren Arnott

Former local league footballer Darren Arnott is setting off on the same path towards management as Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane.

The 31-year-old has taken up the role of assistant manager at Spanish Tercera Division promotion challengers Atletico Astorga.

The club from Northern Spain are at the same level as both Barcelona B and Real Madrid B were at when Guardiola and Zidane first cut their teeth in the coaching game.

But Arnott isn’t getting carried away with things, he is busy focusing on achieving success with Astorga and learning new aspects of the game to bring home to England.

He said: “When I was at Scarborough Sixth Form College I did a bit for Nigel Carson, then I went on to complete a degree in coaching, before moving out to America for five years to work.

“Since then I worked with the girls’ set-up in York, made a few contacts and Leeds offered me a role.

“This opportunity came from working at Leeds.

“There is a Qatari-based company called Aspire Academy, who have acquired a number of clubs in Europe and they have partnered with Leeds.

“I got a call from their head guy Ivan Bravo and he said that they wanted me to get some experience with a pro club in Spain.

“It was a way of going away for a year to get some practical experience and then after a year I can come home and bring a few ideas back to Leeds.

“I had a few other offers. A Football League club had asked me to be head of coaching and I’d been approached by the FA to become a level three B licence tutor, but the opportunity to go to Spain was something I couldn’t turn down.

“The statement I have always written on the white board is that you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

“So when someone offered me a role in a country where I couldn’t speak the language, I jumped at it.

“It is tough and quite isolating, but it is a family club and the players are all good people, which helps out.

“I’m working with coaches and players who are thinking like me and challenging my ideas, which I’ve always wanted.”

Just a few months into his switch to Spain, Arnott is already enjoying life and his new role.

“We played a team the other week and their coach had played 100 games for Barcelona and also played for Spain, so he obviously knew what he was doing,” he added.

“It is great to be given the opportunity to sample life, culture and the differences in styles of football.

“A lot of people have been asking me what the standard its like. The biggest difference between England and Spain is that the players are tactically more intelligent and the work that the coaches do is more tactics based.

“Things are going well on the pitch as well because we are currently second in the league, just a few points off the top.

“The teams we are up against have much bigger budgets, so we are punching above our weight.

“The most important thing is that we are safe in the play-off places by eight points, so it is about building that gap, rather than trying to catch the team above.

“Our ambition is to finish in the top four, anything else would be a bonus for the club.

When the stay on foreign soil runs out later this year, Arnott is unsure where his future lies.

Arnott said: “The idea is to spend the year developing myself. After that I’m not sure which pathway I want to go on.

“I have been offered coach tutoring roles in the past, but at the moment I’m more than happy working with players.

“I do have some key attributes that would help me be a first-team coach or a manager, that would be the ideal job for me.

“Whether I come home and I get an offer from a club or I go back to Leeds and pass on what I have learned, we’ll have to see.

“Obviously Leeds is a great environment and a good place for me to be, but we’ll have to see what happens in the future.”