Sligo Rovers have confirmed that Gary Stevens has joined the club’s backroom team as assistant to manager Ian Baraclough.
Stevens, a former England international and UEFA Cup winner with Tottenham Hotspur, has signed a one-year-deal with Rovers.
Rovers manager Ian Baraclough has said he developed a good relationship with Stevens when working together on their Pro Licence and that he has opted to appoint the former FC Gabala assistant to enhance many aspects of the club.
Baraclough said: “I was taken by Gary as a coach, his manner, his knowledge of the game and the experience he brings with him.
“You make contact with people over your career and Gary is a person that immediately I found easy to speak to and we share similar philosophies over a wide range of areas. I think he will be well received.
“He wanted to get back into coaching. He does not come here thinking it will be easy or that we will achieve things without hard work.
“The league will be tough this season. It will not just be two or three clubs challenging and it is up to us to keep going forward."
Stevens has said the prospect of working with Baraclough and the impression Rovers has made on him was very appealing.
Stevens said: “I was in contact with Ian to congratulate him when he got the job at Sligo Rovers and when he started so well, and we've kept in touch since.
“When he said there was an opportunity with the assistant manager role, it interested me and I knew I would like to work with him.
"I was in Sligo last month and I met the chairman, Dermot Kelly, the treasurer, David Rowe, and saw the facilities like the Clarion Hotel and IT Sligo, where the team train.
“I looked at the new stand in The Showgrounds and the entire situation shows Sligo Rovers is a extremely progressive football club.
“It was clear there was a passion for Rovers in the community and it seemed for the vast majority of people in the city that the club is a big part of their lives. It was attractive and very appealing."
“My passion is football, this is a great opportunity for me," he continued.
"The team has won the league and it means Champions League qualifiers this year.
“I know it is a good standard, I have been watching DVDs of matches in the Premier Division in the last couple of months and I know of the large number of players that have made their way to England and Scotland, some of which have gone on to very big clubs and done extremely well.
“I was assistant academy director and worked with the reserve team at Charlton Athletic at a time when a number of players, like Paul Konchesky and Scott Parker, were making progress.
"I like to think I played a part in their development and certainly in Sligo the target will be the same. We want to develop the players for the club to prosper and the players’ careers also.
“What I bring is experience and knowledge that I have developed over decades. I spent a life in football and I like teams to play football.
“Football, for me, is all about passing the ball, being positive, and Ian and I share that belief.
"While you should have the same principles, it is also important that you are able to speak your mind in situations and have input.
"Assistant managers are not supposed to be yes men and I think we, along with the rest of the staff, can form a great team to try keep the club on a forward movement.”
Rovers return to full pre-season training on 21 January with Baraclough and Stevens planning an earlier return to Sligo to prepare for the new season.
The Rovers boss concluded: “I believe bringing Gary in as part of our structure will be beneficial. It will never be a case of me telling him because he wants to get his hands dirty.
“He is the type of coach that wants responsibility and will go and do it. He will work with individuals and units of the players and we can’t wait to get started.”