When he retired from playing in 2013, many expected Jamie Carragher to go into coaching and find himself in the Anfield dugout not long after. So it was met with some surprise when it was announced he was going to be following one-time playing rival Gary Neville into the TV studio at Sky Sports.

The former Liverpool and England defender, however, has gone on to become one of the most popular and respected pundits on television. His strong opinions, deep knowledge of the game and understanding of the players currently plying their trade in the Premier League has made Carragher a favourite amongst fans of the game… even those from Goodison.

UCFB caught up with Carragher during his visit speak to students at the Etihad Stadium, where the Liverpool legend explained his new career choice and outlined the qualities needed to succeed in the football and sport industry, whatever the role…

Jamie Carragher, right, with Liverpool team mate Steven Gerrard

You’ve gone from Premier League player to Sky Sports pundit – how did you prepare yourself to adapt to your new profile role and how important is it for students looking to work in the football industry to be able to adapt to different environments?

Towards the end of your career the question for most players now is ‘do I go into coaching or do I go into punditry?’ I’d done a few of my coaching badges before I finished playing and I also did a lot of work for ITV, especially during the 2012 European Championships, and I enjoyed it. So I knew then it was something I’d like to go into. I’d always watched a lot of shows and thought ‘could I do that?’ Going forward, and in terms of joining Sky and Monday Night Football, I had a scaled down version of the machine we use to learn with over the first summer I had off. I had no pre-season so I was at home getting used to it and what I would need to learn for Sky.

As a pro who played under a number of great coaches, you’ve seen first-hand the techniques that can galvanise a squad as well as demotivate them. What would you say to UCFB students looking to pursue a career in this area are the key traits to be an effective coach?

I always think that if you listen to what players like in a coach, they will always say honesty – just tell them straight and where they stand. A lot of the time as a player, although you’re part of a team, you’ll be thinking of yourself. Does the manager like me? Is he going to pick me? Am I leaving? Where do I stand? I think it’s a big thing for the manager to keep a hold of the whole 25-man squad and their ups and downs at different times, so I think man management is a massive part of it. Can you manage that squad? You’ll never keep everyone happy, but players will at least respect what your job is and accept at times they’re not going to play every week. You must manage that situation because there will be a lot of different personalities, cultures and languages that you have to keep on side. As a manager, as we know more than ever right now, you have to keep players and people happy.

For a UCFB student going on to work in football and sport, whether it’s coaching, media or otherwise, what are some of the typical challenges they will face and what would you say are some of the ways to face up to them?

Football, like any other industry, is very, very competitive, whether going into playing, management, punditry or the business side of it. It’s hugely competitive and there are vast sums on offer, it’s high end stuff. I think that when competitiveness gets involved in anything it should bring the best out in you. If it doesn’t, and you shrink because of the competitiveness from someone else – say another player or another team – and you can’t handle that, then you’re probably in the wrong industry. I think if you have the mental strength to handle that you will be ok.

Can you give us one piece of advice for UCFB students who want to excel in this industry?

Not just sport, any industry – be yourself, be honest, and have confidence in what you do.

What are your thoughts on opportunities available at UCFB?

I think what UCFB does is fantastic for the students. There are so many strands to the game now, it’s just becoming bigger and better. The fact you have something like UCFB and the facilities – that’s the future of the game now. It was always felt in the past that it was just the players and the manager, but now there’s so much more with the likes of sports science, the business side of it and the scouting departments behind the scenes at the clubs. There’s a lot of jobs to go round so I hope UCFB students will have a prosperous career in the game.