‘I needed to help’ – England legend David Platt on grassroots football, Kalvin Phillips and Mason Mount

England legend Platt was one of the finest players of his generation and he was Roberto Mancini&aposs assistant at Manchester City, but in the last five years, he&aposs given up his weekend mornings to coach his son&aposs amateur football side.

Although Platt never intended to manage the team, the baton was passed to him when the previous coach departed and he&aposs been involved in grassroots football since, as he told the Manchester Evening News on Tuesday morning.

Platt was speaking to the MEN back where it all started in Oldham. The 57-year-old was born in Chadderton and his company Golazzo Group recently intervened when hearing that his former junior club were on the brink of collapsing.

Boundary Park Juniors was where Platt first kicked a ball before representing the likes of Aston Villa, Juventus, Sampdoria, Arsenal and Nottingham Forest and accruing 62 caps for England in a memorable period for the Three Lions.

Platt had been told Boundary Park, established in 1978, were struggling and he wanted to help. I heard they were on the brink of not existing as a club anymore. I contacted the club chairman and pledged our support,” he said.

“The kit and equipment we are providing have immediately helped the club double the number of teams it operates, and John Francis [Boundary Park chairman] has big ideas of growing the club back to the stature it once held.

Platt is a co-founder of Golazzo Group, a name which was inspired by Channel 4&aposs famous Football Italia TV show, and the company looks to help grassroots clubs by providing the best value equipment and kits on the market.

Platt is joined on the company&aposs board by Scott Hannah, who is chairman at Wilmslow Sports, where he coaches his son&aposs team. The pair know all about the financial challenges grassroots clubs face and that&aposs why Golazzo Group was formed.

“Michael Vaughan&aposs son played for our team as well and I was once in a meeting discussing Wilmslow Sports&apos finances and I thought it was ridiculous because we had myself and Michael, access to 300 parents and the community to fundraise.

“I suggested we should do an evening with two former England captains, cricket and football, and we raise the money we need for the club. We organised it and within a week we had to change the venue because it wasn&apost big enough.

“We raised more than we needed and we also had a raffle for a kid who was playing in my team whose father had been in a car accident. His mother was looking after the family and they were struggling as a family.

“At Wilmslow Sports, we&aposll always pay for the kids&apos subs if they cannot afford to pay, just like most grassroots clubs. They shouldn&apost be denied the chance to play football and that&aposs another reason why we had to raise that money.”

Platt added: “With Golazzo, we&aposve looked at the market and it&aposs such a size that we can actually aid football clubs in terms of cost, not just with getting kits, balls and equipment, but with other solutions we&aposre also looking at.

“There&aposs not much margin in it for us, but by the same token, the market is huge. We&aposre not just another online retailer, we&aposre here to help clubs, take some administration away and build up trust that we&aposre finding solutions.

“This is the first summer we&aposve been doing it and we&aposve not done any marketing. We visit the clubs we work with and it&aposs all designed not just to get stuff cheaper, but making the lives of people involved in grassroots clubs easier.”

Platt was in personable form and happy to take questions regarding City and Manchester United. To begin with, he was asked about Kalvin Phillips&apos time at the Etihad and admitted he was a little surprised he didn&apost leave this summer.

“First and foremost, I think he&aposs a great player,” he said. “Sometimes you join another club and the environment doesn&apost feel right, you lose a little bit of confidence because you&aposre not in the team and City have very good players.

“Funnily enough, I was at City&aposs game against Fulham on Saturday and I saw he came on at the end to a great crowd reaction. That was a pleasing thing for me because it&aposs a testament to how he&aposs handled himself during his time there.

“He&aposs not thrown his toys out of the pram and been in the media asking for a move. He&aposs got his head down, although I have to say from afar, I&aposm surprised that he didn&apost leave this summer, to be honest with you.

“He might want to fight for his place, so fair play to him, but if he leaves, he&aposs definitely not going to drop a huge level.”

Cole Palmer&aposs transfer to Chelsea was next on the agenda and Platt said: “I know they thought a lot of him. What you understand when you&aposre in football clubs is what is coming through and you have to create a pathway for them.

“It could be they have someone else coming through. You&aposre still talking about a player joining a top club, though.”

Although Platt made his name elsewhere, he signed for United as an apprentice on leaving school in 1982 and so the conversation briefly turned to the biggest story of the weekend: Jadon Sancho and Erik ten Hag exchanging words.

“When anything comes out of the dressing room that should stay in there, you risk opening up a can of worms. Ten Hag has obviously got his reasons, but Jadon Sancho has also got the right to give his opinion on that.

“For me, it&aposs a better conversation to be had inside the dressing room, than to be playing out in public.”

Platt knows a thing or two about midfielders and the interview ends by discussing Mason Mount, who was brought to Old Trafford from Stamford Bridge for 55million this summer to play in a deeper midfield role.

“My belief is that any top midfield player needs to be exceptional at something,” Platt said. “What they&aposre exceptional at just needs to be one thing, so if you&aposre No.10, then go score goals and have an impact on the game.

“If you&aposre a No.8 these days, you&aposre byline to byline, the fitness is there and you defend but score as well. I think he&aposs a complete midfield player and what I&aposm interested in seeing now is ok, what are you going to excel at?