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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers News » Why Keith Hill's passion for football – and life – will never die

Why Keith Hill's passion for football – and life – will never die

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
He is one of the EFL’s more excitable, most determined managers. And Keith Hill puts it down to his background, when he was enduring the worst of times to enjoy the best of times.

The Boltonian is unashamed of his competitive, passionate nature. Instead it is worn as a badge of honour, fuelling everything he gives to turn Wanderers around.

And Hill says the passion and the competitive nature instilled in him as a boy, one that has taken him this far, will never be dimmed.

Unwittingly, his fellow Boltonian, ex-Manchester City star Paul Moulden, has also had an influence, as Hill’s chief tormentor.

“I go back to playing for Moss Bank and Derek Hughes was the manager, a good manager in his own right but we were playing a year up, against Paul Moulden’s team, Lads Club,” recalls Hill.

“We were getting beat 22-0 off Lads Club and Paul was scoring 16 goals. The next game we got beat 4-0, and it went on, we’d lose every game that season and I wanted to understand why we lost every game that season.

“Derek said ‘because next year Keith, when we drop back down to our own age group we’ll win the league and we’ll win the cup competitions and this is part of our journey, understanding what it takes to be a winner.’

“And we did, we won every game the next season, won the league and the cup and it gave me an unbelievable opportunity to look into the insight of losing to win, creating that winning culture.

“That gave me my platform to go on to Blackburn Rovers and be a professional football player, understanding where you’re at in the layer cake.

“Sometimes you’re going to lose games because of better opposition but you shouldn’t become a loser just because you lose a game of football, you have to remain a winner, you have to remain focused on the long-term journey.

“You become a winner at seven, you don’t then become a loser because you start losing a few football matches.

“If you’re a born winner, you’re a lifetime winner, not just a game winner or a game loser, for me the first taste of victory was as a five or six-year-old playing Monopoly or cards with my dad (Keith Snr), going watching my dad playing and being competitive on a Saturday.

“Being competitive around your house with your family, that’s where you learn to be a winner. You don’t start being a loser because your team loses.

“You’ve got to bring a winning environment to the table, bring what’s necessary to win football matches and to win in life.”

To many, Wanderers will appear to have lost their way in recent weeks with a poor run of results sparked by their 7-1 capitulation at Accrington Stanley.

But while Hill has not engineered a victory in the three games since that humiliating defeat, he remains convinced his players possess a winning mentality while staying free from the fear of losing.

“I’ve never subscribed to saying games are ‘must-win’,” he said ahead of tomorrow’s huge UniBol fixture against second-bottom Southend.

“We want to win but what happens if we say it’s must-win then we lose? When you go into any game you have to contemplate the ramifications of losing a football match.

“When you get rid of all the emotions it’s just three points. You want the players to perform and take on the pressures of a ‘must-win game’ so I encourage the players to be competitive, I want them to have a winning attitude but you have to contemplate the possibility when you step over that line of losing.

“And there shouldn’t be so much drama about losing – more than two thirds of teams over the course of a season have lost a significant amount of games, it’s how you cope with the demands and the modern-day world.

“I don’t know where this pressure has come from, that everybody must win, because it doesn’t happen.

“I’ve been brought up to be passionate but you listen to conversations when you’re growing up and the art of listening has been lost. You don’t learn anything by talking, there are a lot of talkers, there are a lot of people who want to voice their opinion without being experts, experts without expertise who think they know better. You have to sit and listen to these people. Quite frankly, they’ve probably never picked a team before, don’t know the dynamic of a football club, but my passion for protecting a group of players and working on behalf of a football club to make it – not Keith Hill – great, that’s my passion.

“I want to be sat here, I want to be representing BWFC, I want to be representing Football Ventures, I wanted this job because I want to be here, not because I need to be.

“I love this and I’ve got a passion to improve this football club, whether it’s the under-nines or 10s, the first team, the infrastructure for the academy, the infrastructure of the training ground or the infrastructure of the first team, we want to improve every facet of this football club so it has future success, that’s why we’re here.

“But my passion for life, I love every aspect of it. I’ve got no fears, I don’t hide away in my house but I do believe that at times the art of listening has been lost.

“You can take anything I say with a pinch of salt but sometimes listen to the message.

“Never become a victim of losing a game, it’s only defeat if you give up and I’ve been taught never to give up, ever, and I never will.”

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