The chief executive of Manchester United Foundation returned to his former school to inspire students and deliver valuable advice.
John Shiels is an ex-pupil of Saint John Houghton Catholic Voluntary Academy but now heads up the foundation, which uses football to engage and inspire young people to build a better life for themselves and unite the communities in which they live.
Students listened to John talk about his life at Saint John Houghton and his career before taking part in a question and answer session with him. He presented prizes for the best questions and also gave away tickets for an upcoming Manchester United match.
John grew up in Sandiacre, attending Saint John Houghton with his five siblings before going into teaching. He then worked for Sir Bobby Charlton Soccer Schools as he wanted to combine teaching with his love of football.
He said: “I absolutely loved Saint John Houghton. I was one of six and we all loved school. It was an amazing place; it was a safe place to come and whatever you wanted to give it would give you back.
“I got involved in everything I could when I was here. I did drama and athletics; I couldn’t really go on trips as we didn’t have enough money and I never went out of the country until I was 18. So you are much further on than I was when I was your age.
“I’m a very, very positive person and when I’m positive the people around me are positive, they have no choice. I’ve always thought I’m just going to have a go and I’ve made lots of mistakes. I made mistakes when I was at school but I’ve learnt from them. When you are young if you don’t make mistakes it means you are not trying hard enough. If everything is comfortable it’s just your body that’s growing, your mind and your capability are not growing.
“I have been very fortunate but success isn’t about money. You only need so much money to live. A happy and healthy life is more important and to love what you do. If you are doing what you love you will probably be good at it. My hobby was football and I turned it into my career.
“You have to believe in yourself and you have to believe in yourself the most when you are at the bottom. Never, ever stop believing. You’ve got to dream and dream big.”
Acting Headteacher Steve Brogan said that John was a fantastic role model and the students had enjoyed a brilliant day with him.
He said: “It was tremendous to have John in school and for our students to see what is possible through hard work and determination. John is a fantastic role model and when he emailed me earlier in the year, I jumped at the chance to welcome him back into school.
“Aspiration is one of our school values, and John's visit reinforced the fact that with determination, our students can be successful in whatever they choose to do in their lives.
“Students were blown away by the fact that a 'Sandiacre lad' who attended our school, has gone on to be the chief executive at the charity of one of the biggest football clubs in the entire world!”


(Visited 18 times, 1 visits today)