“No one recognises me, I’ve got my anonymity back and it’s marvelous.”
Those are the words of Tony Adams back in October 2010 when he was in the midst of his time in Azerbaijan.
The Arsenal legend had relocated to Gabala to manage the local club which is near the border with Russia.
It wasn’t an adventure that would last long but it was still significant that the former Gunners skipper had decided to try his hand at management far from English football.
Personal reasons brought the curtain down on his time with FK Gabala at the end of 2011, although he would again return to Azerbaijan briefly the following year as director of football.
Given his leadership ability as a player, management seemed to be the natural step for the Arsenal one club man back after he retired at Highbury in the summer of 2002.
And he did get some opportunities at the start of his coaching career in England, beginning with Wycombe.
In charge for a full calendar year from November 2003 in the fourth tier, Adams would only taste victory 10 times (including one FA Cup tie) and things would end a tad acrimoniously, with the chairman clearly displeased with how it transpired.
But even then as Adams left Wycombe, he hinted at the globe-trotting future that was to come, musing: “Maybe when my time is up here I may have to go into Europe because you do more coaching in those countries.”
But before then, he would become assistant manager to Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth from 2006, having already squeezed some work with Arsenal and a short six month stint in the Netherlands with Feyenoord’s under-19s team.
The way he spoke prior to starting that latter experience, highlighted a real willingness to “pick up a feel of the Dutch youth programme and the structure of Feyenoord” – in essence, an eagerness to broaden his horizons.
He also spoke highly of his time in the Netherlands after completing his time there and he did receive an opportunity back in England in the 2008-09 season when he was…