20 Questions with Nathan Thackeray

This is the first in a series of posts of 20 Questions to some super-cool people I have met in the world of soccer.  I have met a lot, but Nathan is top shelf!  I was privileged to sit with Nathan for our National Youth License.   In his career as a professional and college player (and now trainer), he was (and is) a Goalie.  He is a fantastic guy, fun to be around, and, well, let me let him speak for himself…

20 Questions with Nathan Thackeray
1.  Nathan, when did you start playing soccer?
I started playing soccer at the tender age of 7/8, seems so long ago now though.
2.  Where did you grow up?  (Where are you from?)
I was born in a place in England called Burnley and grew up in and around the greater Manchester area.
3.  Why did you play soccer?
Because my Mother didn’t think I was tough enough to play Rugby…good choice. I continued to play thereafter because of the enjoyment that I got out of playing and being around the game.
4.  When did you start playing keeper full time?
I became a full time keeper at the age of 10 after we played in a tourney and our GK didn’t turn up; they stuck me in between the sticks and I never looked back.
5.  What organizations did you play for?
When I started playing I joined a team called Heyside, a local youth football team in my area. When I was 10 I was seen by scouts and signed for Oldham Athletics’ professional academy where I continued to play for a number of years. At 15 I signed a professional YTS contact with Bradford City, a professional team in the UK; I played there for 3/4 years before moving to the USA to attend a University and carry on my playing career.
6.  What is a Mancunian?
Apart from being the best people around, a Mancunian is someone who is from Manchester.
7.  Do you think it is important for Keepers to maintain their field skills?  Why?
Without a doubt! In the modern game the keeper does more work with the ball at their feet than they do with their hands. If we can encourage keepers to get a good mix of GK training and field work, then we can develop both areas together. Keepers are soccer players as well. (emphasis added)
8.  Did you play sports other than soccer?  If so, when did you stop playing sports other than soccer (what age)?
I played Rugby all the way through high school but eventually put all other sports to the side to concentrate on a career in soccer.
9.  City or United?
Easy… U.N.I.T.E.D! United are the team for me!
10.  Do you think, with Arsenal’s help (RVP), Manchester United will win the EPL title this season?
Fingers crossed, he will. He’s a great addition to the team I just hope he and Rooney click.
11.  Who is your favorite Spongebob character?
I’m not a massive Spongebob fan but my roommate in college was a big one so I’ll go with Squidworm. (I think that’s his name) (Nice try Nate – when he gets a few little Nates he will be sure to get this answer right!  He is talking about Squidward Tentacles).
12.  Favorite sitcom?
The Big Bang Theory. By far the funniest show on the box right now.
13.  Who do you work for now?
I currently work for the Houston Dynamo as the Academy GK coach and the U-16 assistant coach. I also work in the youth programs at the Dynamo which is fantastic and extremely enjoyable.
14.  How do you like living in Texas?
Apart from the Houston traffic,  I love it so far.
15.  You were recently married.  What is your wife’s name, where is she from, and how do you like married life?
Yeah, I was recently married and as you know married life has it’s ups and downs but I couldn’t be happier right now. My wife’s name is Katie and she is from Kingwood, TX (she’s the real reason I now live in Houston but don’t let her know).
16.  Why hasn’t England won a World Cup since 1966?
Hmmmm, good question. I haven’t got a clue! I just hope one comes soon.
17.  How were your youth leagues organized in Manchester?
Quite similar to how they are run here really, each team has age groups that then compete with other teams within the area. Once I joined the professional organizations it became a little different where we played other professional teams around the country.
18.  Did (do) members of your family play soccer?  Professionally?
No. I was the first soccer player to come out of the family as we are predominantly a rugby family. I’m hoping that there maybe another one to break that barrier again later in life.
19.  What advice would you give a 11 year old soccer player who wants to be a full time keeper?
Enjoy the game, it’s the most important thing, not only at this age but all the way through their soccer career. Make sure that they develop their basic GK skills so that they become second nature and keep playing on the field as much as you can to develop your touch and foot skills.
20.  Will Arsenal ever keep a player past the age of 30?
HaHa, they have more chance of doing this than they do winning the Premier League.
Thanks Nathan!

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