ALLAN Russell, the former Hamilton Academical, St Mirren, Partick Thistle, Airdrie United and Kilmarnock footballer, has no qualms about describing himself as a “c*****” centre-forward as he looks back on his playing days.

When it comes to his present profession, however, the Scot is not quite so self-effacing.

The website for Superior Striker - the groundbreaking training programme which he devised and launched back in 2012 – labels him “the world’s No 1 striker and attacking specific coach”.

Having worked with, among many others, Harry Kane, Eder Lopes, Divock Origi, Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha in the past decade and helped them all to strengthen their considerable armoury of skills and achieve noteworthy results, it is far from a grandiose claim.

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So how on earth did a guy from Glasgow who only ever had a journeyman career as a player become an internationally-renowned and respected expert when it comes to teaching the art of putting the ball in the back of the net? 

In a rare interview for our Striking Out series, Russell explains how his change of direction came about.

Encountering New World entrepreneurship in the United States during his time with USL Pro franchise Orange County Soccer in California led directly to his new line of work. A lingering discontent at the complete lack of specialist coaching he had received over the years was also a significant factor.

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“It was magic blend really,” said Russell. “I was exposed to American culture. People can say what they want about Americans, but they are crazy about improvement and development. They are always on the front foot with things, they always want to be the best. Therefore, they are always looking at how they can get better.

“When I was playing in North Carolina, I coached little teams and then I started to do striker camps with kids. The best way you can learn about technique is to train kids for a few years. You really break down the body mechanics, like properly break them down. I started to learn that it’s not all about pace, it is all about position and affecting your opponent. I really started to study myself.

“I then transferred to California because there was a new franchise out there. We lived in Newport Beach. I had been exposed to coaching. I then got exposed to wealth and business. My friends were clever, wealthy businessman. Creative businessman with innovative products, not corporate businessmen.

“They would say to me, ‘Okay Allan, what’s your niche? What do you want to specialise in? That’s how you make money. You master a niche’.

“It got to a point where I was training players individually. Players who I was playing against were phoning me for training at that point. I thought, ‘Do you know what? I will just stop and focus purely on training individual strikers’. I stopped playing, stopped all the camps, stopped all the group stuff. I just focused on the individual.”

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Russell added: “Technically, I always thought I was a good player. I had seen so many players who I felt I was so much better than technically over the years. But I was never taught or coached how to be a top striker. There was a real bee in my bonnet about that.

“So I developed the Specialist Striker programme. There was a fire in my belly doing that because of what I had missed out on as a player probably. I had a passion to do it. I took technology, I took analysis, I took data, I took body mechanics, I took movement and I just combined everything together. The programme just evolved and grew and grew and grew.

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“I started to train players at a higher and higher level and they started to get results. It just comes down to how well you can train these people in their position based on what their attributes are, what their weaknesses are and what their superpower is. Every player has a superpower, the one thing that they’re really good at.

“Can you make that even better as well as improving what they’re not good at? What a lot of people do is think, ‘Okay, he can’t do this and he can’t do that’. But what is he really good at? If he is really good at something, you can make that even better and that player can then become a Premier League player or go and play in the Champions League.”

The dramatic results that Russell’s clients enjoyed started to get noticed and ultimately resulted in him moving up to a higher level as well: he was brought on board by the Football Association to be the attack coach for the England side in 2017.  

A Scot joining the ‘Auld Enemy’ made headlines in his homeland. But he was undeterred. He threw himself into the job and learned as much as from the players he worked with, from Dele Alli, Kane, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling, Jamie Vardy, as they did from him in the following five years.

READ MOREKevin Gallacher on what happened to Scotland's striker 'conveyer belt'

“What I was doing got recognised and that is where England came in,” he said. “I got exposed to the top strikers in the world, to what they do, to how they move, to how their minds work, to how they prepare, to how they recover.

“People can be in that environment with England for five years and take some things away from it and learn as coaches. But I properly immersed myself in it. How do the sports scientists work with strikers? How does the psychologist works with the strikers. I have got a full 360 knowledge on that.

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“People will say to me, ‘Why do you think you’re one of the best striker coaches in the world?’ I will say, ‘Because I’ve got a reference, a reference on what elite is and how to make it better’.”

Russell has now turned his attention to coaching striker coaches, not just strikers. He believes there is a need for an increased emphasis on specialist centre-forward training in Scotland, where the production line of top-class predators has ground to something of a standstill in recent times, and is hopeful his compatriots take an interest in the programme he is working on.

“I am developing a course at the moment on how to train strikers and how strikers should be training,” he said. “This will be an online training course for players and coaches. It then leads to practical sessions. That is the next route.

“If I advertised properly through the SFA or whatever that I was coming up to Scotland to do a two day course on how to train strikers, I would like to think a good number of coaches would sign up for it.

“I am passionate about it. I know there is so much information that needs to go into these players to make them the best in the world. For some reason, in Scotland that is not happening at the moment.

READ MOREWhere have Scotland's top-class centre-forwards gone?

“No matter what level the player is at, I am always getting psychological stuff in to them, I am always getting technical, tactical, movement stuff into them. My brain works in the different ways that you need to become a top striker so I always give the players messages from all of those elements.

“Nothing will get away from the eight different areas it takes to become a striker. I would be interesting to ask coaches in Scotland just now what those eight areas are.”

So what are the eight areas?

“You’ll find out when the programme comes out!”