Chris Cohen, former Nottingham Forest Captain joins Paul Hart, ex Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday, Notts County and Birmingham City player to talk to students at You Can Do Sport, Newark with their head coach, former England footballer Gary Charles
Students from a sports academy welcomed former Nottingham Forest captain Chris Cohen to speak to them about his career and the life lessons that he learned along the way.
The You Can Do Sports Academy students sat and listened to Chris talk about his journey in football which included 11 years at Nottingham Forest.
Chris was brought in to speak to students by academy principal Natalia Hart and academy ambassador Paul Hart.
Paul and Chris have previously worked at Luton Town together.
Students listened intently as Chris talked about his career from Westham to Yeovil Town and then later Nottingham Forest.
He spoke about the disappointment of being dropped from Westham, the challenge of suffering several cruciate ligament injuries, and his thought process of what he would do once his football career was over.
Chris said he loved being around football still but missed playing.
"I was an under-21s coach at Nottingham Forest which I found really enthralling, it was a wonderful job.
"But I did miss Saturday afternoons at three o'clock.
"I was fortunate enough to end up at Luton where I worked with Paul and Nathan Jones.
"We had a great couple of years there.
"I then went to Southampton where I was an assistant manager in the Premier League.
"By the age of 35, I was fortunate enough to do a lot around professional football.
"I was fortunate to see what the leagues looked like at all different levels."
Chris invited questions from the audience with students asking about what it took to succeed in football.
Chris talked about the importance of having a strong work ethic and a good attitude.
Paul Hart who had a successful career in football playing for teams as varied as Nottingham Forest, Leeds United, and Sheffield United reiterated that football was more than what happened on the field.
"Professional football is like any other job, you have good times and bad times," said Hart.
"There are a lot of working parts needed to have a successful career."
Chris said that was true and said that it was important to be adaptable.
He said he was currently at Lincoln City helping the interim manager by coaching temporarily.
"I wrote notes on the players on how they interacted on the field and what they did," said Chris.
"I felt I could tell the really hardworking ones and those that would step up when needed.
"It is a big thing to try and act correctly all of the time, I know it is hard, especially with social media nowadays with everyone watching all of the time.
"The way that you do anything is the way you do everything.
"These are traits that you can take into any walk of life if you want to succeed.
"If you want to make it as a footballer, you have to work harder than anyone else, you have to put in the hours more than anyone else.
"You have to be a bit vulnerable and ask people for help and that is a big thing because you have to put your ego aside.
"These people are there to make you better.
"The way you carry yourself, from things like a good handshake to looking people in the eye when you talk to them is important."
Paul said manners were also important and how players behaved off the field was just as key as how they played on the field.
Natalia Hart emphasised to students the importance of the academic side of education as not everybody made it as a professional footballer and those that did could get injured.
Footballers also have a shelf life where by a certain age they normally complete their career.
"Every player I speak to, I ask them what are their plans after football?" said Chris.
"A lot of them don't think ahead and I get 21-year-olds saying I don't know, that is 15 years away.
"Hopefully it is but it might not be, it is good to have something to fall back on and education is key.
"The academic stuff might not be fun but it is highly important.
"Hopefully conversations like this make you all realise how important education is in life."
Chris encouraged students to take advantage of the opportunities on offer and told them to speak to Paul and their head coach, former England player Gary Charles.
"I know what Gary is like, definately go to him and he will help you," said Chris.
He ended the talk by telling students to feel free to reach out to him if they wanted more advice on their future careers.
"Find something you are passionate about, if you are really passionate about football there are dozens of clubs available at clubs besides playing," said Chris.
"Chris talked about his injuries and the ups and downs," said Gary.
"As Chris said, it is important that you go in every single day trying to be the best version of yourself.
"Chris was captain of Nottingham Forest for a long time for a reason.
"He went in every day and set the standards high.
"We tell the kids that it is not about perfection, it is about learning from mistakes and trying to be better.
"Saying good morning, knowing people's names, and showing respect is key.
"If you are better than someone in the group, help them."