Why this Chelsea striker is the exception to the rule

When a footballer retires, it seems their career options are extremely limited. Being a pundit or a manager seems to be the only options available to those hanging up their boots.

The quality of these former players, swapping boots and shin pads for clipboards and whistles, differs greatly. We can go from the young managers embracing their role and flourishing, such as Garry Monk at Swansea to the quite frankly bizarre and embarrassing – look no further than Edgar Davids at Barnet.

The majority of former players moving to the technical area start at the top, their reputation goes before them, ensuring them the pick of the jobs without any real experience or knowledge behind them. This can go right, as seen at Swansea, or you can see the catastrophes that players such as Paul Ince have presided over.

But in Derbyshire, in League Two, a two-time Premier League golden boot winner is plying his trade. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, once one of the most expensive and highly rated strikers in world football, is doing his apprenticeship at Burton Albion.

When his appointment was announced back in November, it was met with not only sheer shock, but a degree of scepticism. The infamous spell his former Netherlands team-mate Davids had at Barnet had undoubtedly tarnished the idea of a former great going to the lowly level of League Two.

A publicity stunt to increase the crowds?

Burton had got themselves in a position to push themselves into League One, how would the former Chelsea and Atletico Madrid man deal with the harsh reality of Fourth Tier football?

Hasselbaink had already had a rather inconspicuous start to his coaching career with a year at Belgian outfit Royal Antwerp. But his move to English football was still seen as a real shock. However, the Dutchman has taken to his role manfully, winning 15 of his 25 matches, leaving The Brewers on the cusp of promotion.

It is refreshing to see a player, who achieved so much in the game, willing to take a job away from the riches of elite football. He has got his hands dirty and is on the precipice of a real achievement with Albion.

He talks passionately about the club he is leading; showing no signs none of entitlement that may come with the successes of his playing career. When he is interviewed, it is obvious his hiring was not one taking cynically; it was taken with the club’s future in mind.

When he was asked why he took the job at lowly Burton his answer was simple; “Because I want to. As a player, I had to come from far. I had to graft. I don’t mind grafting but I don’t see this as grafting, I see this as a good opportunity. You can go to League One or the Championship and they don’t have as good a job as I have.”

He has adapted to life in League Two like he has always been there, he has seen the opportunity of managing a club for the fantastic one that it is. His life in League Two may be ending soon, but his attitude and desire at this level should not be forgotten.

It is hoped many more starting their career on the footballing ladder will have the same grounded passion for the game as Jimmy does.

As he continues what looks like it could be a successful coaching career, he will always be able to look back at his real life apprenticeship at the Pirelli Stadium.