Former Fulham teenage star who played alongside Manchester City's Kyle Walker and Athletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier at England youth level thinking ahead with Gosport Borough move

From the one-time youngest ever Premier League player to turning out at Privett Park - it's probably not the career path new Gosport Borough signing Matt Briggs had planned.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 2:58 pm
Matt Briggs featured for Gosport Borough in their friendly win over Hungerford last Saturday. Picture: Tom Phillips

At the age of just 16 years and 65 days, the former Fulham defender was handed his top-flight bow as a late substitute in a 3-1 defeat at Middlesbrough in May 2007.

Back then, hopes were high and the pressure piled on Briggs' incredibly young shoulders to be the next teenage breakout national star.

Unfortunately for him, despite being capped by England from under-16 through to under-21 level, appearances for his boyhood Fulham were few and far between in his eight-year senior career at the club.

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Matt Briggs, left, locked in battle with former Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku during his days at Fulham. Picture: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

In August 2014, having featured 29 times for the Cottagers and being sent out on loan to Leyton Orient, Peterborough, Bristol City and Watford while with the Craven Cottage club, a move to Millwall arrived.

Since his brief season stay with the Lions, spells at Colchester, Chesterfield and Barnet have followed and most recently he was with Danish Superliga side Vejla Boldkulb.

But rather than reflect on what might have been, Briggs knows at the age of 30 he must think about life after hanging up his boots.

And after being put in touch with former Pompey and current Gosport chairman Iain McInnes - a friend of representatives Twelve Football Consulting establisher John Kimbell - the former Premier League player was sold on the move.

Not only does it provide Briggs the chance of what he hopes will be regular minutes in a push for Southern League Premier South promotion this season, but he has also taking on a role within the club's centre of excellence to pursue his coaching passion as he plans for life after football.

The Gosport defender said: ‘I wasn’t playing as much as I wanted to in Denmark and I started thinking about what I wanted to do in life after football because I’m 30 years old now.

‘Speaking to my agent (John Kimbell), I think he knows the chairman, and with the ideas the chairman had for the club I thought it would be a good fit for me.

‘I’m playing, doing a bit of coaching, and what he wants to do with the club and get promoted - I love that idea - and I got on board with it straightaway.

‘When I was at Fulham I did my level 1 and 2 (coaching badges), it was something I’d always wanted to do, but wasn’t quite sure.

‘The chairman has offered me an opportunity to come here and coach so I grabbed the chance.

‘Where I’ve had so many injuries and stuff it’s been difficult for me to try to cement places in teams.

‘Obviously in Denmark, being away from home, it was so difficult and that’s what probably cemented my decision to come back to the UK and just enjoy football, loving what I’m doing, and building for the future.'

Briggs' age group England international career saw him called up for the Euro under-19 Championships in Ukraine.

Alongside the then-Fulham teenager in that squad were recent Euro 2020 finalists with Gareth Southgate's senior team, Manchester City's Kyle Walker and Athletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier.

Former Manchester United and Arsenal striker, currently at Brighton, Danny Welbeck and Everton summer signing Andros Townsend were others included in that under-19 Euros where England were beaten finalists.

Briggs might not have gone onto enjoy the stellar senior career of some of those he was rubbing shoulders with for the Three Lions at age group level.

But he insists he can hold his head high with some of his personal achievements, such as standing as the Premier League's youngest ever player for more than a decade and featuring in both Europa League and the Championship.

Briggs said: ‘I’ve said before as a 16-year-old it’s every kids dream to play professionally and I was able to accomplish that at such a young age and I’ve got vast experience, I’ve played Premier League, Europa League and Championships and stuff like that.

‘I played at every age from under-16s to under-21s (with England).

‘I was in the under-17s at the time and I got called up to play in the under-19 European Championships and I was playing alongside Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and others.

‘I think I’ve kind of comes to terms with the fact now that I’m 30 years old, I’ve managed to accomplish a lot in my career - maybe not as much as I’d have wanted to - but I’ve come to terms with it now and it’s just about looking to the future and building a career for life after football.’