Cook unearthed City treasure McCall

Cook unearthed City treasure McCall

Former head of youth development at City Malcolm Cook can take credit for discovering Stuart McCall

Former head of youth development at City Malcolm Cook can take credit for discovering Stuart McCall

Former head of youth development at City Malcolm Cook can take credit for discovering Stuart McCall

Former head of youth development at City Malcolm Cook can take credit for discovering Stuart McCall

First published in Sport Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Bradford City Reporter

He grew up with Sir Alex Ferguson and has worked with some of the biggest names in the British game.

The forewords to his coaching books read like a who's who of top managers - Bobby Robson, Graham Taylor, Ron Atkinson, Andy Roxburgh and Lawrie McMenemy.

But Scotsman Malcolm Cook's biggest claim to fame in his adopted city is discovering the man who has just been unveiled as the new Valley Parade boss.

Cook was combining his job as head of PE at Thornton Grammar School with helping George Mulhall as City's youth development director when he first clapped eyes on a young Stuart McCall.

"Somebody came up with this little boy for a trial game," recalled Cook. "Stuart was exceptionally small but a right hard lad.

"One or two said he was too tiny but inside secretly I was licking my lips because he was fantastic. He had good attributes and a great attitude for the game.

"I saw him afterwards and was frightened to death we wouldn't get him so I told George we had to move quickly.

"After that, I was never off his doorstep until we got him. Other clubs started to show an interest after a while but by then we had signed him for Bradford."

Cook also provided another persuasive voice in his ear when McCall was wrestling with the dilemma of whether to play internationally for England or Scotland.

Cook said: "I was one of those talking him into not playing for the England team. England had so many players to choose from and in midfield - you'd be up against the likes of Hoddle, Wilkins etc.

"Stuart was always going to get a good chance with Scotland, as it proved over the years."

There are other success stories of young lads brought through by Cook who have gone on to make their name. Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Dominic Matteo were all products of his time on the coaching staff at Liverpool.

Cook, who lives in Low Moor, had seen his own playing career cut short by injury. A trainee with Arsenal, he returned north of the border with Motherwell before arriving in Bradford to play under Jimmy Scoular at Park Avenue.

He spent two seasons with the club, even taking over Scoular's midfield role, and just missed promotion from the Fourth Division by a point.

Cook's playing days were constantly troubled with problems with his feet and knees. At 21, he was sent to an orthopaedic surgeon in Leeds, who outlined a radical programme of surgery which involved breaking most of the bones in his feet to reconstruct new arches.

It would have meant missing up to two years of football. Cook told him to forget it and soldiered on by training in his own different way, wearing specially adapted boots and playing through the pain.

But at 27, a bad knee injury on top of everything else put paid to his dream.

"I was devastated because playing football was my life," he said.

Scoular knew a contact at Margate where Cook was able to cope with the slower pace of the Southern League while holding down a part-time job. He was also keen to move into the coaching side and studied for his Football Association badges.

After studying for an honours degree in sports science, he came back to Bradford as a PE teacher in Lidget Green. Cook cut his coaching teeth with Maurice Setters at Doncaster where he unearthed former Sheffield Wednesday winger Terry Curran and Bradford-born Brendan O'Callaghan, who played many years for Stoke.

The spell at Valley Parade followed, though for £10 a week he admitted: "I was fighting a constant battle and didn't have a lot of help."

Cook had a full international coaching licence by then and moved on to Huddersfield to take charge of their school of excellence. One of the first boys he worked with was Adrian Boothroyd, the Watford boss.

Then an unexpected call from Kenny Dalglish opened the door for an opportunity at Liverpool, where he remained director of youth for three seasons before branching out to set up his own company - Freeflow Coaching.

As his reputation grew, he was invited to work with managers and coaches across Europe. Gerard Houllier even put him up in a Paris apartment for a week to attend a series of seminars.

"I try to teach coaches to be more revolutionary and more modern," said Cook, whose newly-published fifth coaching manual is endorsed by his good friend Ferguson.

"It's the scientific and holistic approach to the game.

"I tear my hair out when I see some of the things that still go on in training."

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