Kit Carson reveled in his image as a star-maker with the power to help promising junior footballers realize their dreams of making it in the professional game.
He relished the glowing testimonials that his former players – among them, household names – provided for his website and writings and he was never short of invitations to matches and glitzy football dinners.
But there was a darkness to Carson that only fully emerged after the Guardian broke the football abuse scandal in 2016.
Dozens of former players, among them ex-internationals, contacted the police and the children’s charity the NSPCC to say they had been sexually abused by Carson.
Carson’s death in a road crash just before the prosecution case against him was due to start at Peterborough crown court in January deprived survivors of the chance to give evidence against him.
His inquest gives a few answers but questions remain, not least how a man like Carson was able to work in the professional game for more than 20 years and why even after complaints were made about him he continued to be involved in the sport right up until his arrest.
Michael Sean Carson, to give him his full name, was a proud Irishman but lived his whole life in England. He gained his first football coaching badges while he studied economics at the University of Hull.
After a brief teaching career in Bedford, he set up a football school, which he claimed was the first in England. He was successful and his potential was spotted in 1983 by Norwich City, then a First Division side.
At Norwich, he brought through players who went on to win international honors including Craig Bellamy, Chris Sutton, and Danny Mills. After 10 years he moved to Peterborough United, spending eight years there and working with the likes of Matthew Etherington and Simon Davies, both of whom went on to Premier League careers with Tottenham Hotspur. None of the theses were complainants in the case against him.
Carson’s reputation was such that in 2005 the Premier League champions Chelsea, then managed by José Mourinho, appointed him as a scouting coordinator for the East Anglia region.
Many of his players have gone on to become respected coaches in their own right, including Dan Ashworth, who was not one of the complainants, who until recently was the FA’s technical director.
Those who played for or worked with Carson paint a picture of an innovative coach. In a time before sports science was such an integral part of the game, Carson insisted that his young players ate properly and put a great emphasis on mental as well as physical strength. He was one of the first to give media training to his players. Read More