Manchester United made the surprise call to hire Tom Huddlestone as the club’s new player coach at under-21 level.
Huddlestone’s switch was confirmed by the club this week, with the 35-year-old midfielder a free agent after his contract at Hull City expired.
The former Tottenham star and England international is taking his first steps into coaching, and has the dream environment to transition into his post-playing career.
In a message on Instagram, Huddlestone said: “Grateful and honored, now time to give back to the younger generation.”
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Luka Modric and Jamie Redknapp react
Tom Huddlestone has played more than 550 career games, and will have valuable experience to pass on to Manchester United’s academy stars.
A number of his pals and former colleagues reached out to him on Instagram to congratulate the midfielder on his new job.
These included former Derby stars Curtis Davies and Kelle Roos, along with Jamie Redknapp, who left Tottenham in 2005 just as Huddlestone was joining.
Former Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott reached out, referring to Huddlestone’s renowned long shooting ability, a fierce mix of power and precision.
Lescott suggested this isn’t a teachable quality, to which Huddlestone responded he would now try to find out.
Ryan Mason, who has also left playing to enter coaching, and Aaron Lennon, also reached out to congratulate the midfielder.
The most high profile congratulations received by the new Manchester United under-21 coach came from Real Madrid star and Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric.
Huddlestone played alongside Modric at Tottenham, and he may have a story or two to tell Manchester United’s young stars about the Croatian.
Huddlestone’s move to United came as a surprise, and it’s a huge opportunity for him. A young aspiring coach could not wish for a better scenario to take his first steps, and he has a fantastic group of players in United’s academy to work with.
Many of the players in this year’s under-21 side helped win the FA Youth Cup last season, and Huddlestone will help each of them try to maximize their potential.