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Paul Dalglish on dad Kenny, US soccer & David Beckham’s Inter Miami

Paul Dalglish (right) playing for Houston Dynamo in 2007

The Dalglish surname resonates far and wide. Kenny’s exploits as a player and manager guarantee that.

But the Scotland and Liverpool great wasn’t the biggest draw in the family when his son, Paul, decided to chase his football ambitions in America 14 years ago with a move to Houston Dynamo.

“When I first came over here, Kelly was more famous than Kenny,” he tells BBC Scotland.

“She was working with Sky Sports at the time, then dad got back involved at Liverpool.”

Paul’s sister Kelly Cates, née Dalglish, is now firmly established as one of the UK’s finest broadcasters. And while Kenny excelled on the pitch and later in the dugout, it is behind the scenes at a football club where Paul is thriving.

The 43-year-old is president and general manager of Miami FC, the nascent franchise preparing to make its debut in America’s second-tier USL Championship in March.

He won’t, though, be tapping into his dad’s vast football expertise for some words of inspiration.

“You’ve heard my dad do interviews… he’s not the most talkative person,” says Paul. “He’s been over to Miami a couple of times. He likes the golf and lying on the beach – you can just see him getting redder and redder.”

Sir Kenny Dalglish: Scotland great says knighthood is ‘a wee bit embarrassing’

‘I’m proud of dad, but stand on my own two feet’

Paul’s playful tone turns serious when the conversation moves on to comparisons with his father, who is Scotland’s most capped player and enjoyed a trophy-laden career with Celtic and Liverpool, where he won three European Cups.

Has being son of the ‘King’ proved a heavy burden?

“I’m proud of who my dad is, but I feel I’ve always stood on my own two feet,” he explains. “When you are Kenny Dalglish’s son, the level of expectation is the greatest player who has ever come out of Scotland. That is more an issue for other people than it ever was for me.

“I played in the Premier League in Scotland and England, I played for Scotland at Under-21 level. I’ve done all right, if you don’t compare me to what my dad achieved as a player. A lot of people would be proud of the career I had as a player.

“My relationship with him is like most fathers and sons, the one person you want to be proud of you is your dad.”

‘My body was broken’

Dalglish jnr has worked hard to forge his own reputation Stateside, although he maintains it wasn’t a conscious decision to do it far away from his father’s shadow.

In fulfilling an array of backroom roles, he has derived a pleasure from football that didn’t always come naturally in a playing career that took in the likes of Newcastle United, Norwich City, Livingston and Hibernian.

There’s a tinge of regret as he says: “I’ve enjoyed coaching more than I enjoyed playing. I’ve approached coaching the way I should have approached playing from day one.

“When you’re young you put so much pressure on yourself to succeed that you don’t really think about it too much. You just play the game.”

Dalglish’s last spell as a player was with Kilmarnock

Upon returning from Houston for a brief spell at Kilmarnock in 2008, he knew it was time to hang up the boots.

“My body was broken, I couldn’t even get through training. That’s when I knew I was done. It wasn’t fair on anybody for me to keep playing.”

He went back Houston for a coaching role with the Dynamos academy and has been in America ever since, criss-crossing the country with moves to different clubs and jobs.

“In America it’s different to back home,” he says. “Because the country is so big, and there’s no relegation or promotion, the only way you stay in one place is if you’re average.

“What I can say now to any person at a club is, I’ve walked a mile in their shoes. I’ve been a player, an academy coach, an assistant coach in MLS, I’ve a head coach, a general manager, a technical director at a youth programme.

“And now I’m president at Miami. So I have a very rounded education in how football clubs work and it can only stand me in good stead.”

‘No grudges with Beckham’

For a franchise that only began in 2015, Miami have a storied history. They began life with two Italy icons at the forefront – Alessandro Nesta as head coach and Paolo Maldini as co-owner with Riccardo Silva.

But the disbandment of the second-tier NASL has left them “on a rollercoaster” for the past two years, according to Dalglish, who replaced Nesta in January 2018 and led the club to success further down the pyramid.

His switch from the technical area to the boardroom three months ago came as something of a surprise.

“I was enjoying coaching and doing all right. But when I was offered the position of president and general manager, sometimes you’ve got to do things when you get the chance, not when you think the time is right. My first step in the new role was to fire myself as head coach.”

David Beckham’s Inter Miami make their MLS debut this year

They aren’t the only Miami football club preparing for their big moment. A few miles across town, David Beckham’s Inter Miami are set to play their first MLS game on 1 March.

The more the merrier, as far as Dalglish is concerned as he swats away suggestions of Beckham stealing his thunder.

“There’s isn’t really any overlap, we’re offering a totally different product,” he adds. “There’s absolutely not any grudges. I’m going to go to the Inter Miami games with my son – I can’t wait.

“I wouldn’t say we have any aspirations of building towards a place in MLS. The franchise fees now for MLS is hundreds of millions. We want to put roots down and be more of a community asset.”

Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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