Ex-Middlesbrough star Lee Cattermole reveals next career steps and reflects on Sunderland stint
Former Middlesbrough, Wigan Athletic and Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole has revealed the next steps in his career.
After breaking into Boro’s first team aged just 17 against local rivals Newcastle United, Cattermole joined the Latics before moving on to Sunderland in 2009.
The battling midfielder spent 10 seasons on Wearside, eight of which came in the Premier League, before the Black Cats suffered relegation in consecutive seasons, leaving the club stranded in League One to this day.
Cattermole then moved on to Dutch outfit VVV-Venlo and cemented himself as a fan favourite before Covid-19 hit and derailed his time on the continent.
The club decided against renewing the midfielder’s contract and Cattermole announced his retirement from playing after nearly 400 appearances.
But what is Cattermole up to now? The former Black Cats captain has revealed all in an interview with The Training Ground Guru.
The 33-year-old is now well into his A Licence and has been coaching on a voluntary basis at Middlesbrough’s Academy since last October.
And next season, Cattermole will join the club on a full-time basis working with the under-15s and under-16s.
He said: “Most players have this idea of playing to 35, but I got to a point where I thought, ‘just be brave and make the decision you think is right.’ And I’ve not looked back.
“I’ve absolutely loved the transition into coaching and haven’t regretted it for a second. Some of the coaches I’d worked with had a chuckle when I told them and said, ‘you’ll be putting your boots back on soon,’ but I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Cattermole, however, does not plan to live off his reputation and experience as a player.
“I’m not interested in that one bit. It’s not only about my career as a coach now, it’s about the careers of the players I’m working with too.
“They’ve only got one opportunity and I don’t want to do them a disservice. I really want to give them the best chance and the best information I can. I feel I’m back to school now, back to the start.
"I need to know I can improve players, not only with the style of play, but individually. Being in and around the Academy gives me less pressure and also the opportunity to.
Cattermole’s time at the Stadium of Light was fraught with troubling relegation battles but also produced stunning survival tales and three trips to Wembley.
But how does Cattermole see his decade-long stint at Sunderland?
“I had some wonderful times at Sunderland and remember good and bad throughout my career,” he says. “I remember us beating Chelsea on a Saturday and then Everton on a Wednesday one season and the noise was such that the referee couldn’t hear himself talking to the linesmen. They’re the things you need to remember.
“Somebody told me I played with 155 players in 10 seasons, which is averaging more than 15 a season,” he says. “It was difficult to keep reinventing the environment, getting the togetherness.
"We tended to finish seasons strong, lose players and then have to rebuild it. And trust is huge within a dressing room - you need to trust each other and the staff as well.
“I’ve used that and will have learned from stuff I’ve seen, good and bad.”