I was an Aston Villa star but I quit to become a mind coach aged just 38 to help petrified young players | The Sun

Ex-Aston Villa star Karim El Ahmadi has proved he doesn't just possess an educated right foot… by becoming a mind coach for young players.

The former Morocco midfielder, 38, is back for his third spell with Feyenoord – but this time to help the club's starlets overcome nerves that left him "petrified" on the pitch.

El Ahmadi netted three goals in 56 games for Villa before rejoining the Dutch giants in 2014, then seeing out his playing days with Saudi club Al-Ittihad Club.

And after quitting as a player last year he drew on the abuse he took while a player to become a counsellor to Feyenoord's youngsters.

He said: "Mental coaching is so important for young players.  I only began playing well once I stopped letting criticism drive me crazy.

"In my role as a counsellor to Feyenoord's players I work to ensure that they no longer have to suffer doubts and uncertainty.


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"I think it is great to be able to help young players on their way, by using my experience of top-level football.

"It can be relentlessly tough at times.  I experienced it at first hand when I joined the club from FC Twente in 2008.

"I was petrified by nerves.  I had to face tons of criticism, and was all of a sudden no good.

"I even felt guilty towards the Feyenoord fans, as I had cost £4million and not shown my best form.


"It would have helped me had someone told me: 'Karim, keep your confidence up – everything will be OK'.

"In this regard I could say that my time in Rotterdam made me grow up."

Dutch-born El Ahmadi amassed 66 caps for Morocco and played at the 2018 World Cup finals.

He won an Eredivisie title and two Dutch FA Cups with Feyenoord and was Holland's Player of the Year in 2017.

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