Ex-Reading, Stoke and Reading striker announces plan which might come as a surprise to those at former club Portsmouth
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The Dave Kitson Academy will be based in Berkshire, with the aim of providing a high-quality standard of coaching for young people in Reading and its surrounding areas.
The ex-Royals player, who helped Reading win promotion to the Premier League in 2006, will offer group and one-to-one coaching sessions for males and females from the ages of eight to 23. The ultimate ambition is to establish it as a category one academy.
Kitson told The Reading Chronicle: ‘I want to help Berkshire become a footballing hotbed that provides good opportunities for young players to develop their football and life skills – and to be part of developing the best talent that the county has to offer.
‘There are a huge number of grassroots clubs with tens of thousands of people playing football every day of the week. In terms of provision for quality, elite coaching, Berkshire does not currently have the footballing cache, nor the numbers of qualified high-level coaches that have played at the highest level, that can implement the very latest coaching techniques enjoyed exclusively by the elite category one academies in Britain.’
The move could be considered an unlikely venture by those of a Blues persuasion given Kitson’s two-season spell at PO4.
Following his move from Stoke in September 2010, the now 43-year-old featured 72 times for the Blues, scoring 12 goals. But the front man came in for some harsh criticism from the stands during his time at Fratton Park.
His performances were deemed by many as not up to scratch. Meanwhile, with Pompey on the brink of liquidation, an agreement to cancel the remaining year of his contract was only reached in August of 2012 – six months after the club went into administration for the second time in three seasons.
At the time, that was interpreted as proof that Kitson did not care about the club.
Since then, the former player has revealed that he was suffering from clinical depression during his spell with the Blues and had, in fact, deliberately driven his car into the concrete pillar of a bridge as he struggled to cope at the time.
In an interview with World Football Index, he revealed: ‘It was horrible. A really rough time to be a footballer and a fan of the club. The club was in administration when I signed, and also when I left.
‘I did not play well there. I was also clinically depressed at the time and I got to the point where I had to say to the manager, “look, I can’t even be on the pitch let alone kick a ball properly”.
'I was making myself look silly and the manager Steve Cotterill – who was great with me – realised that I was not right and that mentally I was going further down the rabbit hole.
‘I think the fans took my mental illness as a sign that I did not care about their club, because that’s how it looked when I played.
‘The truth is that I was in no condition to play football at all and their boos, catcalls and abuse simply made it worse.
‘But they didn’t know. It was not an easy situation for anybody given what was happening at the club. I wanted to do well for Portsmouth FC as did all the players.’
Kitson joined Sheffield United on a free transfer following his controversial Blues exit. He scored 12 goals in 37 appearances during his single season for the Blades, before joining Oxford United in 2013. The striker’s last professional game was for the U’s against Northampton in May 2014.
Kitson will walk in solidarity with Reading supporters ahead of today’s game against Pompey as Royals fan protests against owner Dai Yongge.