Former midfielder Paul Tait returns to Birmingham City in important new role

Former Blues favourite knows better than most the pressures faced by young footballers

Former midfielder Paul Tait has returned to Birmingham City as an academy player mentor – and his own life experiences appear to make him the ideal man to nurture young stars of the future.

Ex-Blues midfielder Tait, now 50, was a popular player during his time at the club and his most famous moment arrived when his headed goal secured victory over Carlisle United to win the 1995 Auto Windscreens Shield (English Football League Trophy) final at Wembley.

The match was the first at Wembley to be decided by the golden goal rule which meant the contest was over as soon as the ball hit the net in extra-time.

Tait and his team-mates went on to win promotion into the second tier just a couple of weeks later in a memorable double-winning campaign.

Paul Tait is relishing his return to Blues.
Paul Tait is relishing his return to Blues.
Paul Tait is relishing his return to Blues.

However, things were not always rosy for Birmingham City fanatic Tait, who often experienced troubled times in his personal life, whilst always giving everything on the pitch.

In a recent ‘The Game’s Gone’ podcast with fellow Blues fan and broadcast journalist Tom Ross, Tait showed incredible bravery to speak openly about his turbulent 16-year career that was marred by alcohol and drugs.

Tait, who played 170 times for the club, talked about his battle with addiction after being hooked on drink and class A drugs and also revealed he had been sexually abused while at school, which led him to contemplate suicide.

Sutton Coldfield-born Tait, who was denied a move to Tottenham Hotspur by a serious injury, spoke about how he turned his life around and was already helping to mentor youngsters before taking on his role at Blues.

What will Tait’s work at Blues involve?

He will offer support to players throughout the club’s teams and will combine the role with his current work in educational settings and with footballers.

Tait will provide a confidential environment to support players and develop Blues’ Player Care Provision – utilising his own experience of overcoming addiction and trauma.

Paul Tait is a proud Brummie and Bluenose. Picture: Mark Thompson/Allsport.
Paul Tait is a proud Brummie and Bluenose. Picture: Mark Thompson/Allsport.
Paul Tait is a proud Brummie and Bluenose. Picture: Mark Thompson/Allsport.

Tait, a trauma-informed practitioner currently working towards being a qualified counsellor, told BluesTV: “It’s absolutely fantastic to be here. It has been a journey for me and I am just delighted to be connected with the club again.

“I am hoping there is a different voice there for them. They can come to me – I won’t judge them – it’s nothing to do with the club – it’s between me and them.

“The pressures on young lads coming through these days are far greater. There is so much pressure and they bring that baggage with them.”

What difference does Tait intend to make?

He added: “It is about being proactive rather than reactive. The club are looking forward now, as many clubs are, to how we can help young players.

“We always seem to react to a situation but, when you actually speak to a player, it could have been nipped in the bud a few months earlier.

“It’s crucial to offer such support to young people and is important in delivering long-term health.

“The biggest tool I can provide is to listen.”

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