By Rob Cornell
Seb Brown came through the pain of rejection by several clubs before emerging as an AFC Wimbledon hero – and now he’s aiming to pass on his experiences to the next generation.
Seb recovered from early rejections in his career before writing his name in Dons’ history as the man who saved two penalties at Manchester to help Wimbledon reclaim a Football League place.
Now Academy Goalkeeper Coach, Seb told our new iFollow channel: “I wasn’t in a professional club situation until under-14s level. I went on trial with pretty much every club in London. I’d come away with rejection after rejection and it’s about using that to spark yourself on.”
“We spoke with one of our academy goalkeepers - who actually was kept on - but they’d played second fiddle to another goalie in their age group the year before. What’s now happened is that they’ve built that resilience and gone, ‘Right, I’m not having that anymore and I’m going to go away and do this to put myself in as first choice’ – and to do that is almost a first-team mentality.”
“To instil that into a young lad, at that age, you wouldn’t want to do that ideally, but it’s 90 per cent them and 10 per cent us really. It is about how they apply themselves to it. When you get to the senior end it is about how much you want go at it and give it a try.”
Following his first season as a goalkeeper coach here, Seb is extremely passionate about helping young Dons keepers to forge careers in the game.
“In terms of ‘keepers coming through, you do never know,” said Seb. “You can get to 13 or 14 and think they look good and then the next two years it doesn’t quite work out for whatever reason and I was there myself.”
“I wasn’t in an Academy until I was 15/16, so there are maturity rates and just the lads in general themselves and the group we’ve got from 9s through to 16s are second to none – they work hard and want to learn and you can’t ask for much more.”
Wimbledon has always had a special affinity to its goalkeepers. AFC Wimbledon Club President Dickie Guy will always be associated with Wimbledon FC’s FA Cup heroics of the 1970s. Then, of course, there was Dave Beasant – the first goalkeeper to save a penalty in an FA Cup Final in 1988.
Legendary status is also rightfully bestowed upon Seb too, for playing a major role that day at the City of Manchester Stadium. It’s something he may feel more comfortable with in years to come, but he’s very modest about being included in the roll-call of great Wimbledon keepers.
For more on this, and on Seb’s coaching with the academy, subscribers to our new iFollow premium channel can access an in-depth 13-minute interview.