Roy Hodgson: I nearly called time on managerial career 14 years ago - but my age isn’t a disadvantage

Jack Rosser
·4-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Roy Hodgson has enjoyed one of the most far-reaching and long-lasting careers of any English manager in history.

His contract at Crystal Palace is up at the end of the season and a decision has yet to be made over his future. If he does bring the curtain down on 46 years in management in the summer then it is fitting that he is back where it all started, in south London.

It was way back in 1976 that Hodgson, who has been honoured with the Outstanding Contribution prize at tomorrow’s London Football Awards, left Croydon to start out as a coach with Halmstad in Sweden at the age of 28.

Since then, he has been in charge of 16 different clubs in eight countries and managed England, as well as the Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Finland national teams.

The FA via Getty Images
The FA via Getty Images

The remarkable journey is not one Hodgson could have envisaged when he started out in coaching nearly 50 years ago.

“When I went to Halmstad, if you said I would still be working in 10 or 12 years I would’ve signed up for that straight away,” says the 73-year-old. “So everything since then has been an enormous bonus.”

Hodgson has had plenty of standout moments during his career, perhaps the biggest coming in 2010 when he took Fulham to the Europa League Final.

He landed the England job in 2012 and, despite following a respectable quarter-final showing at Euro 2012 with disappointing early exits at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, laid the foundations for the work Gareth Southgate has done in recent years.

But it could all have been very different.

Hodgson has revealed he could have called time on his managerial career 14 years ago were it not for a broken promise he made to Inter Milan.

“It was Christmas 2007 and my first game with Fulham was on January 1, 2008,” he explains.

“I could so easily have retired after Finland and even contemplated going down a different route to management and coaching.

“The major one I’d basically decided upon and, had even given a guarantee I suppose, was when I made a promise to replace Giacinto Facchetti at Inter Milan and work alongside Massimo Moratti at the club, but not as a manager, more like a director type role.

“That was immediately thrown into confusion by the fact I received a couple of other management offers which made me think again.

“When the Fulham one came it was the one that that definitely tipped me back to perhaps where I should always have been, I don’t think I should have been thinking along those lines and I’m very grateful that Massimo Moratti released me from that promise I had made.

“I am really pleased I didn’t go down that route because it has given me such a fantastic time, with living in London all that time and working not only with England for four years but with the two excellent London clubs in Fulham and Crystal Palace.

“It means a long period of my coaching life which has taken place here in London, where I suppose you could argue I belong because it’s where it all started.”

Hodgson’s longevity and hunger to continue is remarkable.

Palace have the oldest squad and oldest manager in the Premier League, but the veteran boss still connects with players who are decades his junior - not that that has ever been too much of a concern.

“When it comes to age, I don’t know that that’s such a massive disadvantage,” says Hodgson.

“The fact is, the players here don’t expect me to talk to them or to socialise with them or to interact with them on the basis of our common interest.

POOL/AFP via Getty Images
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“They probably accept that when I go home I read different books, or watch different television programmes. I have an interest in different actors and TV stars.

“What they’re interested to get from me is a training session and information that will help them do their job better on a Saturday.

“It’s better in a way that I don’t like the music they listen to and they certainly wouldn’t like the music I listen to but that is great, because I don’t oblige them to listen to my music. At least at home games when their music is on I can retreat to my manager’s room.”

There are some songs, however, which get Hodgson making the walk back from his manager’s room at Selhurst Park, down the narrow corridor and back into the mix with his players.

“Cheikhou Kouyate has got a fantastic track,” he said.

“I really enjoy listening to it so I must in fact find out who is singing it because I’ll definitely add that to my list of songs to listen to. So, it’s not all bad, far from it.”

To watch the London Football Awards — streamed directly to you on Tuesday, April 27 from 7pm — visit

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