Where it began… On top of the podium at age 20… Part of a World Class Winning Team

Get to know the man behind Intelligent Football as Founder David McCulloch answers five popular questions. Where the idea came from, what his most memorable achievement is, where he sees the game going and more.

Where did your idea for Intelligent Football come from?

The idea came to me back in the year 2000 when I was living in Australia on a troubleshooting assignment. I was watching Premier League highlights and despite it being the acclaimed ‘best league in the world’ I was absolutely stunned by the lack of teamwork, skill and managerial style on show.

It was evident to me there and then that teams and managers were crying out for improvement in a variety of key areas including style, teamwork and efficiency. That is where the idea for Intelligent Football was hatched.

I left Australia in 2001 and returned to the UK to pursue this dream.

How can you apply your previous experience and intelligence in tennis, sailing, superbikes, F5000 and F 1, to the field of football?

In the essence of any success or winning team its people that are the common denominator. If you can understand what makes people tick then you can get the best out of them – both as an individual and as a team. I started my management career back in 1968 at the Australian Institute of Management and have 40+ years’ worth of insight on how to manage & develop people effectively and professionally.

These skills are transferable to any sport or business

Really, it’s getting to know the people in a team and building that bridge which allows honest and effective communication. This bridge is what will enable better man management and improvement planning. You have to improve the people to improve the results & process and this is all the more true in football teams.

We don’t tell we listen

Once you learn how to listen, you can start to understand the person and focus the discussion on what matters to them, rather than the one-way yelling & telling evident in football.

Most memorable achievement?

As a 20 year old Apprentice Engine Technician I was asked by my employers (Repco F5000 Engine Development Company) to look after the engine for the Rothmans Repco Matich F5000 Race Team during a two week promotional tour in the USA.

The team were competing in the L&M F5000 Series which attracted the world`s best teams and drivers.

Our first race was at Riverside Raceway 60 miles east of Los Angeles. We won both races and led the championship. The second race was 200 miles north of LA in Monterey, we finished second but still led the series at the end of our promotional tour. The experience gained as a 20 year old during this trip taught me how to build a world championship winning team, the true essence of teamwork and the importance of learning & developing a “how to win” mentality.

What is the one thing you’d most want changed in modern football?

The mentality in certain clubs. At the moment there’s a firm belief you need to spend hundreds of millions to win football matches and achieve success. To me, that’s buying success not building it. Clubs are too often failing to develop their own people, the mentality is ‘buy, buy, buy’ and that to me is crazy. British talent isn’t given the opportunity to perform. It will be interesting to see how many of the World Cup winning England U20`s will be a given a chance to play week in week out next season at a high level.

I am of the belief that you start with an appraisal and obtain buy in of all people at a club. A learning & development program is introduced and people will improve.

In 2010/11 – £99.9million was spent replacing 62/92 managers in the Football League. Something is clearly wrong and it’s time to consider the Intelligent Football Transformation process which improves managers and profits.

Where do you see the game going in the next 5 years?

More David and Goliath stories. Clubs that don’t believe they can be successful developing a mind-set that enables them to think positively and become successful. It’s amazing the impact a successful club has on a local community and I see the link between health and wellbeing between clubs and communities becoming of increasing importance.

Thank you.