Danny Lloyd, who grew up in Malpas on the Shropshire-North Wales border, still plays for his hometown club.
He is a under-15s coach at Rochdale and after two years of studying at Warrington & Vale Royal College, he has been promoted to head of education at the club.
“The last two years have been full of late nights, observations, and cramming in dissertations whenever I had a spare few hours,” he said. “Now, it definitely feels worth it – from July 1 I will be Rochdale AFC’s head of education, along with assisting the youth team and their apprenticeship standards.
“It was put to me by the academy manager, who asked me if I’d like to do it.
“It’s taken two years and it’s been pretty difficult trying to juggle everything.
“Night school on a Wednesday night and then the dissertations and assignments, but it’s good to finish it and get the new role.
“The coaching role is still my main passion – being on the pitch with the lads is what excites me still – but to be able to be a part of the academy management team, and as head of education, is brilliant.
“As part of that role I’ll be working with the youth teams on their apprenticeship standards, which gives me another chance to be on the pitch with them.
“My main focus is still to be on the pitch as much as I can. I’ve been with Rochdale for nine years now and I’m looking forward to many more.”
The 29-year-old, who now lives in Winnington, near Northwich, still plays for Malpas under his manager, and father, Tommy Lloyd – who played for AFC Telford United during his own career.
Now, Danny is focusing on producing the next big thing as he helps nurture the talents of footballers of the future.
“Recently we sold an under-14 player to Manchester United, which was really good,” he said. “Luke Matheson, I coached him, and Wolves bought Luke for £1million this year. A few other lads have moved on and others have moved into the first team, so it’s a good club to work for.
“I get the chance to work with players who get the opportunity to play first-team football, so that was the main thing that keeps attracting me to work for the club for so long.
“My dad is pretty proud, which is great.”