Chris Todd: Former manager quits professional football for teaching job

Chris Todd
Chris Todd says he is happy to have swapped the dugout for the "security" of the classroom

He might not be the biggest name in football, but few can have crammed quite as much into their career as Chris Todd.

The 35-year-old Welshman has played over 300 professional games, run out at Wembley three times - once just months after overcoming leukaemia - and guided a non-league team to the third round of the FA Cup.

So why has someone with so much experience switched to coaching football at a further education centre?

"The students all ask me the same thing - why?" says Todd, sitting in a classroom at South Devon College in Paignton.

It is three months since Todd was sacked as manager of National League side Eastleigh just four games into the season, only two of which ended in defeat.

"It's a bit of security. The game in general is starting to change drastically regarding managers, it's becoming cut-throat at times. Results are everything and there's no time to bed a manager in and let him grow, it has to be instant success," he explains.

"I believe I had success at Eastleigh, I did well in the FA Cup and we just missed out on the play-offs when we weren't really near them when I took over."

Todd's highs and lows
Played for seven clubs in the third to fifth tiers of English football
Was the first player to give away a penalty at the new Wembley stadium as he captained Exeter City in their 2007 Conference play-off final defeat by Morecambe
Diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in November 2008, but was playing again by the following February
Helped Torquay United win promotion back to the Football League in 2009 via the play-offs
Took over as Eastleigh manager in October 2015, leading them to the third round of the FA Cup in January before being sacked early in this season

Todd is now responsible for helping 16-19-year-old boys balance a decent standard of football with the opportunity to study for either academic or vocational qualifications.

"The opportunity came about and it attracted me. Getting back on the training ground again, it's a different adventure for me," the centre-back, who still plays part-time for National League South club Truro City says.

An adventure is certainly one way to describe Todd's career - seven clubs, overcoming serious illness and taking non-league Eastleigh to within a whisker of putting then-Championship side Bolton Wanderers out of last season's FA Cup.

"Back in the day when I was a youngster I had no interest in getting a qualification," he tells BBC Sport.

"When you're a kid, you get told by all the experienced players that you should do something on the side because it might not work out.

"You have to get your livelihood right, because if you're not a footballer and you don't earn that money, then as soon as that's finished you have to do something else.

"You don't earn enough money in the lower levels to be able to retire once you finish at 35, that's a fact. There's a lot of players out there who I know have gone into disarray, they just don't know what to do next."

Chris Todd
Chris Todd celebrates with goalkeeper Paul Jones after he saves the penalty he gave away at Wembley in 2007

With the likes of Jamie Vardy, Chris Smalling and Troy Deeney all impressing in the Premier League having failed initially to make the grade, more and more players are looking to get a qualification while trying to keep alive the dream of making it as a pro, which is where people like Todd and places like South Devon College come in.

"99% of them will never be professional footballers, but they want to learn, they want to be better people," adds Todd.

"I've had two lads since I've come in here who have done trials for England colleges. That was an eye-opener for me, I went to that and saw the amount of talent there that the professional game doesn't see.

"As a manager you don't take any notice of college football, you really don't, unless you have a connection with an academy. But I spotted a number of players that could easily play at Conference level if not higher."

So what about Todd's future? Is he lost to the professional game forever in favour of a more secure role out of the limelight?

Chris Todd
Chris Todd led Eastleigh in 61 games, winning 29 and losing just 15

"I'm not going to dismiss anything," he smiles, just a few weeks after being turned down for a managerial role at another National League club - he will not say which one.

"If it's an unbelievable job that comes up there's no way I'd say 'no, I'm not going to do it', because that would be crazy, and the college understand that.

"But if I tell somebody I want to do something then I'll stick at it and there's a great adventure here for me to be a part of."

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