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Gibbs is back on familiar territory

PUBLISHED

14:00 16th February 2017

. . . as Nigel prepares to write the next chapter in his career


There have been two testimonials, a string of coaching jobs and a singsong with Sir Elton John.
He was on the Swansea City bench when they won the 2006 Football League Trophy, and he was in the opposite camp when Brendan Rodgers’s class of 2011 delivered promotion to the Premier League.
Nigel Gibbs’s footballing story is a colourful one – and there are plenty of chapters still to be written.
The next, the 51-year-old hopes, will involve helping the Swans remain a Premier League club.
Gibbs has joined the club’s survival fight having been appointed as one of Paul Clement’s assistant coaches.
The move to Wales means a return to familiar surroundings.

Nigel Gibbs

“I had played with Kenny Jackett and then under him as manager at Watford,” Gibbs explains.
“Kenny was the manager here at Swansea. I did opposition match reports as well as some player reports for him, and I also came down for a few days at a time and did a bit of coaching.
“Leon (Britton) was around, so were Sue (Eames), the chairman and Alan (Curtis), so it was nice to see some familiar faces when I came back to the club.
“I was on the Swansea bench for the win at the Millennium Stadium against Carlisle. I had been to see them the week before and Kenny invited me to sit on the bench. That was a great day to be part of.”
Gibbs has had his share of memorable moments in a career which began when Graham Taylor gave him an apprenticeship at Watford in 1982.
A year later, he signed a first pro deal at Watford, the club where he would play for no fewer than 20 years.
“I first met the boss (Taylor) in 1978,” Gibbs recalls. “I played for him until 1987 when he went to Villa and then he came back. I had a lot of time under him and I was very saddened and shocked by the recent news of his passing.” 

Nigel Gibbs

Gibbs made his senior appearance for Watford at the age of 18 years and three days.
He ended up as club skipper at Vicarage Road, and still holds the record for the highest number of starts in Hornets colours.
He is the longest serving player in Watford’s history, hence he was granted not one but two testimonials by the Hertfordshire club.
That playing career was, says Gibbs, a “dream come true” for a Watford fan who grew up just down the road in St Albans.
Another Watford supporter, Sir Elton John, had taken over as chairman of the club in 1976. His contribution was such that a stand was named after him in 2014.
Gibbs has met the pop superstar many times over the years, but there are two occasions which stick in the memory.

Nigel Gibbs

“In 1987, we had an end-of-season trip to China and he came along,” he says.
“He was very pleased because in China only the people who were staying in the hotels really knew him – that meant he could be quite free.
“He would come and watch training and the games. We actually won the trophy we were playing for and in the evening we got Elton to go and play the piano.
“In the song he played, he used everyone’s name, and when he mentioned your name you got up and waved and joined in.
“I was also very fortunate that he did a concert at Vicarage Road on the day of my wedding anniversary and he dedicated a song, Electricity, to my wife. That was very nice.
“He loves football and he is very knowledgeable. He knew everything about you as a person and your family. He is a good guy.”

Nigel Gibbs

When his playing days ended in 2002, Gibbs began his coaching career at Watford, first with the reserves and then as No. 2 to Ray Lewington.
Then, after that brief spell working for Jackett’s Swans, he moved to Reading.
Having started out with the development squad, he was made reserve-team manager under Brendan Rodgers and then assistant boss to the Ulsterman’s successor, Brian McDermott.
In their first full season together, McDermott and Gibbs led the Royals to the Championship play-off final, but they were beaten by Rodgers’s Swans.
“It’s not a great memory for us, but that was an incredible game and Swansea have gone from strength to strength since then,” Gibbs says.

Nigel Gibbs

A year later, Reading were celebrating automatic promotion to the Premier League, but McDermott and Gibbs lost their jobs the following spring as the team struggled in the top flight.
Next they worked together at Leeds United, then Gibbs had a brief stint coaching at Millwall under Ian Holloway.
Gibbs’s most recent post saw him spend 15 months in the academy at Tottenham Hotspur, where he worked alongside Karl Halabi.
But when Clement got the Swans job, the duo left White Hart Lane to come to Wales.

Nigel Gibbs

“I jumped at this chance – it was too good to miss,” Gibbs says.
“Paul came to Reading a few times when he was out of work and I also went over to Paris Saint-Germain to watch him work.
“He knows Karl well, and we are all excited to be working together at Swansea. Hopefully we can help the club move forward.”




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