The former Premier League striker was the McDonald’s Ambassador at Canton Rangers’ Community Football Day. We caught up with him to find out why he’s so keen to give back to the grassroots game...
Craig, it’s great to see you at our Community Football Day. How important are events like this to Welsh football?
It’s vitally important. I’m happy to support the great work McDonalds do for Football and for communities, across the country.
To get thousands of children playing football in one place is great, clubs from across Cardiff and beyond are here and every one of them is enjoying it.FIND A COMMUNITY FOOTBALL DAY NEAR YOU THIS SUMMER
We hear lots about the importance of grassroots football but speaking as somebody who’s spent your entire career at the top of the elite game, how important actually is it?
It’s vital because every kid starts somewhere, just like I did.
If you’re going to be a great player, it’s what you learn in grassroots football that sets you up for it.
And if you’re not going to be a great player, you’ll still get so much from playing football with your mates and learning from your coaches.
There are lots of life skills to pick up through football.
So, you obviously enjoyed playing football in the parks around Cardiff as a youngster. Tell us some of your grassroots football memories?
It was great. When I was young, the part of Cardiff I was from was full of great teams and there were some excellent players.
Now I’m coaching, I’m constantly seeing old faces that I played with or against.FLICK THROUGH THESE GREAT IMAGES OF CANTON RANGERS' COMMUNITY FOOTBALL DAY
How can days like this benefit clubs like Canton Rangers?
It’s great because they get to showcase the excellent work that they do and can convince new boys and girls to join them and get new coaches and volunteers.
You took the opportunity to play alongside some of their players. How did that go?
It was OK!
It was very hot but great that they all enjoyed it.
And you took the opportunity to pass some of your wisdom onto some of them…
I’m aware that you can over coach but it’s important that if you see something that a player can do better that you can help them to learn.
That’s what coaching is all about, passing on your knowledge to help young players develop and enjoy the game more.FIND YOUR NEAREST GRASSROOTS FOOTBALL CLUB
Now you’ve made that transition from player to coach, how important do you think coaching is to the development of football in Wales?
It’s vital, if we’re ever going to get to where we need to be.
At events like this you see so many good coaches passing on their knowledge to their players and they’re doing it for their own love of the game.
I’ve learned that there are so many skills you can learn from coaching. Patience is a big one that I’ve definitely picked up.
And what do you love about being a coach?
Taking what I’ve learned and putting it into practice.
I remember a school teacher telling my class that the children who want to learn should sit at the front and learn, while those who don’t should stay at the back, out of their way.
That’s the worst bit of advice I’ve ever heard!
I take the attitude that if somebody doesn’t want to learn, let’s find another way of helping them to learn or find something else that they actually want to learn.
That way it’s more rewarding for you as the coach and them as the player.BECOME A COACH: HERE ARE OUR UPCOMING COURSES FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR MCDONALD'S COMMUNITY FOOTBALL PROGRAMME