Nathan decided to follow in the footsteps of the coaches that influenced him and joined Albion in the Community as a Football Development Officer. This was a role that came with its challenges, but challenges that he took in his stride.
“They were some tough roles I did to start off with, very challenging. It started by working with disadvantaged kids, bad behaved kids, but very talented kids, some of which are still playing now at a high level.
“The environment they were in, however, was really difficult and that was the first role I had, going into schools, working on summer camps, then quite quickly I progressed, working with all types of football.
“From the age of 16-21, there wasn't much football that I hadn't done. Whether that be girls' football, disability football, general inclusive football, and the more elite levels of football as well.
“I started off as a Football Development Officer, working with groups that couldn't access football in the normal way, for example, they couldn't go and pay to be part of a club. I went to these groups trying to find talented players and just help them with their pathway.”
Coaching really started to pick up for Nathan at this point and his role kept progressing.
“In the end I was running development centres where we bring in players that have been identified as having talent and get them in structured sessions. We were also working with talented players that had been let go from the academy, and trying to get them back in.
“The biggest example of that would be Haydon Roberts (Brighton & Hove Albion defender). My job was to give him as close to an elite academy experience as I could, which we'd try and do by using the same syllabus, some of the same coaches, and that was all overseen by me.
“In my early twenties, the hours started picking up, but right from being in college I was doing a lot of volunteering, so I was used to the long hours. I’d go into the Academy with 'Juppy' and just shadow him.
“It's not all about the money, I loved learning, so to be around them guys all the time, Martin Hinshelwood being another one, watching them train players, in quite tough circumstances back then, was always interesting to watch.”
He speaks of Darren Teague, Dave Jupp and other influences very highly, adding: “I don't tend to be a very emotional or open person, but Teague managed to work that out and that was massive for me. He probably regrets it because after that I wouldn't stop bugging him! Asking what are you doing there, why are you doing that, if coaching isn't just turning up with a bag of balls, then what does it look like.
“I used to literally just follow him around for about three years! But Juppy as well was incredible and I think at the time, he was the youngest A License coach in the country. I believe he was only 24.
“No matter what Juppy was doing in his own role, he would always find time to include us with his A License sessions. Just seeing that level of detail as a 17/18-year-old, the thought-process that went in, was amazing for me.
“More recently, working with Adam Hinshelwood, again the level of detail is incredible to see and learn from. These are guys that have been at the highest level, but they will never look down on anyone.”
It seemed like a tough environment to be in at the young age he was. However, he’s a coach that was clearly passionate about that area. Nathan left home at the age of 16 and could easily have headed down the wrong path. After captaining England at the Homeless World Cup in 2007, he later managed the side, in what is a remarkable story to say the least.
“I have been in some tough environments but looking into my journey as a person, I've always had that! I've had to live in hostels at a young age and one of the reasons football was so appealing to me, was because it was a place that I was far more at home than anywhere else.
“You can imagine what some hostels are like, and I didn't want to continue being in those environments. So, any tough situation I found myself in within football, it never compared to the tough times I had in my life outside of it.
“Plus, some of these kids I was coaching, are coming from equally, really tough backgrounds. But the interesting thing is, any issues go away once you step onto a football pitch.
“Football is very therapeutic and even when you're in a relegation battle, there's still things you can do about it. Some of the kids we worked with, there's nothing they can do about their situation, but with football, there's always something they can do.”