In part three of our exclusive interview with Chris Cohen, he speaks on making the grade in professional football and how he started on the path towards a career that spanned over 15 years.

Now the under-23 manager at the City Ground, Cohen came through the ranks at West Ham United.

A good friend of current first-team captain Mark Noble, the versatile player was just a teenager when Alan Pardew saw something in him and handed him a senior debut at 16.

(Photo by Jo Caird/Getty Images)

Cohen was introduced as a substitute during a 3-2 win over Sunderland during the 2003/04 campaign; becoming the youngest player to appear for the Hammers for 80 years.

He would leave after just 18 games but Cohen believes catching the eye in the right place at the right time, ultimately set him on his way in professional football.

He told Nottingham Forest News: “I’m a great believer in sport, particularly as a youngster looking to make the grade, you need some luck and to be in the right place at the right time.

“I always remember one particular training session at West Ham. Alan Pardew came in and the first time he came to watch the academy lads he joined in with us!


“I can still picture the training session now and it was probably the best I trained in my whole career as a professional footballer, to be honest.

“That set me on my way to shape my career. Alan knew from watching me in that session that I was ready for first-team football.

“A few weeks later I made my first-team debut but it also set me on the path to get games on loan at Yeovil and ultimately have a tremendous career at Forest.”

Cohen played exactly 300 games at Forest although he credits that one moment during his career in front of a blown away Pardew that proved the catalyst for his who career.

He is of the belief that lots of young players are good enough for men’s football but simply need the opportunity to impress.


The man who served Forest with distinction also thinks it’s important to have a manager who buys into the philosophy of utilising the academy.

He continued: “You need a manager that believes in young players.

“The way people talk about under-23s football is that’s it not the same and that the players aren’t ready.

“The reason they aren’t ready is that they haven’t had the opportunity. I know a load of kids I work with, however, are good enough if they are given that chance.

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

“When they are given a chance it’s about them doing something special at the right time, or in front of the right manager to prove they are ready for first-team action and start creating their own careers.”

With Cohen handing out such advice on a daily basis on Trentside, every Forest player in the under-23 ranks will have a chance of success.

Both he and his assistant Andy Reid know what it takes to make the grade at the City Ground and the team looks in good hands with the duo at the helm.

Chris Cohen speaking exclusively to Lee Clarke. Part four will feature more from the under-23 boss

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