sport

Brown ready for new challenge

Michael Brown is entering his 20th year as a professional footballer this season, but the Port Vale new boy is already planning ahead for life after playing.

Port Vale are the eighth club that Brown has played for a permanent basis in his career and it is likely that Brown will pass the 600 appearance mark during his time at Vale Park.

Brown first came to prominence at Manchester City, coming through their youth ranks to play in the Premier League before moving to Sheffield United - and it was his form at Bramall Lane which earned him a return to the Premier League with Tottenham.

After Tottenham, Brown had spells at Fulham, Wigan and Portsmouth in the top flight before his three-year spell at Leeds came to an end this summer and his subsequent switch to Port Vale.

Brown has been offered a coaching role with Port Vale as part of his playing contract, but the former England Under-21 international is keeping his future options open as he considers becoming a football agent as well as maintaining his shareholding in the Spanish La Sala restaurant chain which is expanding into the UK later this year.

Despite pursuing other football and business interests, the 37-year-old admits he is in no rush to hang up his boots just yet and is still excited about beginning a new season at Port Vale.

"I am looking forward to the new season - the first day of the season is always a special day for the players and the fans because is there so much excitement and expectation when the new season comes around.

"Things have gone well in pre-season and we have got a good bunch of players at the club.

"Micky Adams and Robert Page have been there and done it and I feel there is a good mix of older more experienced players and I am confident we can enjoy a successful season.

"Micky knows the script and he knows how to handle the lads and I know a lot of people are probably tipping Port Vale to probably struggle this season, but it is up to us as players to try and prove them wrong.

"You have got to be ambitious and try and get to the play-offs at least. If you look at last season Rotherham managed to go up even though at the start of season no one probably fancied them to do it."

Brown is set to combine his playing duties with his first move into coaching as he been offered the chance to train Vale's reserves this season and it is something the experienced midfielder is relishing as he considers going into management when he hangs up his boots.

"Micky has given me the option of taking the reserves this season and it is something I am really looking forward to," added Brown

"I have been taking my UEFA A licence and coaching is a way of staying in football after I quit playing and I am thankful to Micky for giving me the opportunity to take my first steps in coaching this season."

Another avenue that Brown is exploring which will see him remain in the game is by possibly becoming a football agent.

In his long career Brown has a wealth of experience to draw on when giving out advice to players and the Port Vale new boy admits working in the football agency world is always something that has interested him.

"The agency side of things has always been something that has interested me," continued Brown. "I have been on the other side as a player and luckily for me I have been looked after by some good people.

"However, I have been at plenty of clubs where I have seen some players who have not been managed properly.

"There are a lot of young players o ut there who need their career managed properly and I feel I could offer a lot with the experience I have gained throughout my career.

"I would know how to look after players as I know how a player likes to be looked after so that can focus solely on playing and not worry about anything else."

Brown is one of several footballers to have invested in the hugely successful La Sala group, with the bar and restaurant business set to arrive in the UK before the end of the year and it is a project which illustrates the 37-year-old is thinking about his long-term future when he does decide to quit playing.

"There are a few footballers, including myself who have invested in La Sala and it has been a great success for us all in Spain," noted Brown.

"We are planning to take it to the UK later this year and it would we love to grow it in the UK like we have done in Spain.

"It is good to have interests outside football and everyone involved wants to make it as successful as possible."

Despite having so much happening on and off the pitch Brown wants to play a few more years before deciding what he wants to do when he finally hangs up his boots.

"I want to carry on playing," said Brown. "Everyone you talk to says play for as long as you can and I am no different.

"I am 37 now but I think I can play on until I am 40. That is the target I have in my head.

\"But who knows after this season I might decide that is it for me and after then I will have plenty of options to consider what I want to do next."