• Don Howe, who has died at 80, was part of England bosses’ backroom staff
  • He was regarded as one of the best coaches in the English game Read
  • Gowe also managed QPR, Coventry and Galatasaray during his career

Martin Keown

I think it was Stanley Matthews who said Don Howe was such a defensive coach that the only time he smiled was in the team photo — because he had all his players behind the ball.

But as an aspiring defender at Arsenal, having Don around was only good news. I couldn’t have had a better apprenticeship.

Don was a very meticulous man and at his happiest on the training ground. He formulated his style over many years and had it all planned out — how you should defend as a team, a back four, a unit and an individual. 

Don Howe sits on the bench during Arsenal's Division One clash with Leeds United in February, 1983 

Don Howe sits on the bench during Arsenal’s Division One clash with Leeds United in February, 1983 

I couldn’t have had a better apprenticeship, said former Arsenal defender Martin Keown on Howe 

I couldn’t have had a better apprenticeship, said former Arsenal defender Martin Keown on Howe 

He was very vocal and was always whistling. When I was playing for Arsene Wenger, Don looked after the Arsenal youth team. We were training on pitches side-by-side one day but all you could hear was Don’s voice ringing out. Wenger moved them after that because of the noise!

And Don was influential for me as a youngster. When I was 17 he took me and Tony Adams out of the youth team to do some 2 v 2 against Tony Woodcock and Charlie Nicholas. 

It was more an exercise for them rather than us but afterwards Don took me aside to say I could get to wherever I wanted to go. If we could stop those two we could stop anyone.  

A triubute to Don Howe will feature on the front cover of Arsenal's match programmer for their next match 

A triubute to Don Howe will feature on the front cover of Arsenal’s match programmer for their next match 

Don gave me my first-team debut at Arsenal. Afterwards he was very complimentary about my performance but more to the press than to me personally. But I knew that was a thumbs up.

Apprentices at Arsenal had to help clean out Highbury and often I’d have to clean up the staff room. Sometimes I’d go in and Don would be sitting with a few coaches and he’d always quiz me — about the first team, opposition players, all sorts. I didn’t want to be caught out so I made sure I always had an answer.

Don was old school but he was a deep thinker and he really switched me on to make me more aware of the club and the game itself. He will be missed.

Keown has hailed Howe's influence and guidance during his early years at Arsenal 

Keown has hailed Howe’s influence and guidance during his early years at Arsenal 

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