For Sheffield Wednesday boss Darren Moore, it was always his destiny to sit in the dugout, right from his early playing days at Torquay United and Doncaster Rovers.
Although he didn’t know it at the time, the former centre-back was a natural born leader and those skills would set him up for a career in management.
“I said to myself that I wanted to be a good coach, but when I look back at my career now, the managers used to talk, and I’d listen to everything and take what the manager did onto the pitch,” he explained. “Back then, not only was I doing my job, but I knew what other people had to do, so I was almost a conductor on the pitch as a player.
“Subconsciously, I was destined to be a manager. I not only knew my job, I knew where other people should be standing in set plays and corners, and talking it.”
Promotions with Bradford City, West Bromwich Albion and Derby County peppered his playing career and Moore is now approaching three decades within professional football.
“Having five promotions in the EFL has been wonderful and there’s been so many moments and amassing nearly 600 games. Over a 20-year span, I’ve been really grateful for that as a player in the game.
“As a coach and manager, I’m going on nearly 30 years that I’ve been in the game and it’s been a part of my life. Through those playing experiences, it’s lead me onto the coaching and managerial side.”
Moore stepped into the breach at West Brom following Alan Pardew’s departure and although he couldn’t save the Baggies from their fate, he scooped the Premier League Manager of the Month for April. The West Midlands team went undefeated, taking points from Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
“It was under unforeseen circumstances,” he said. “When I was given the role, it was kind of like put in my lap. I always remember being given it on the Bank Holiday Monday and everybody came in on the Tuesday and we had a couple of days to prepare for the first game which was Swansea.
“Such was the turnaround and the level of performance from the players, that game was a draw, but it created a snowball effect. We won at Old Trafford and we knew that we had to win at Old Trafford, and the run of games we went on was incredible. We picked up some great points week after week and kept the season alive. The game against Spurs at home when we did take it to the last game of the season, the atmosphere at The Hawthorns was great.
“That catapulted me into the managerial world and when the team dropped into the EFL, I was given the job and the role to go with. There’s never a right time, you’ve just got to be ready for it.”
Despite his dismissal in March 2019, the 47-year-old wasn’t out of work long, taking the reins at former Club Doncaster Rovers. And he crossed the South Yorkshire divide to join Sheffield Wednesday earlier this year.
“I know all about this football Club and the size and structure of it," he continued. "There’s been a lot of ups and downs so we’re trying to bring a solidity and a consistency and put the Club back to where we feel it should be.
“We know there’s a lot of hard work ahead but we’re working to achieve that. You don’t get a God-given right; you’ve got to go and earn it. That’s where we are at the moment – we’ve got to go and earn it. As the weeks go by, the team is getting stronger and stronger.”
As the first-ever Jamaican to manage in the Premier League and a black manager within the EFL, he recognises the role model he’s become for aspiring players and managers alike – a position that he is honoured to take up.
“I never used to think anything of it but now I understand that comes with the territory in the professional game. I’m the manager of a wonderful football Club and I’m a black manager. I’m just consistently open with everyone and I work with staff, a group of players and a supporter base that’s been tremendous.
“If that means I’m a role model amongst the black community and my group of peers, I’ll happily accept that and keep putting out the positive energy to people that aspire to be a manager or a top coach.”
He added: “Here, I have an opportunity and a platform to express the proud moments that Black History Month brings. Black History Month gives us the opportunity globally and worldwide to express the magnificent work and pioneers or people that do so much for this wonderful country that we live in now. It goes back generations and generations.
"It’s a proud moment for me to illustrate to the people out there the wonderful work that we’re doing and we’re together as one in society, working together and making the world a better place."
Throughout Black History Month, the EFL is celebrating current and former players and managers that have had an impact on the game by telling their stories in a series hosted by radio and television presenter Nick Bright.