Kevin Gallen played a key role in keeping talented QPR youngster Grego-Cox at the club
- Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images
When QPR youngster Reece Grego-Cox came off the bench to make his Premier League debut against Spurs in March, there was one man watching from the South Africa Road stand who was nearly as proud as as the Ireland Under-19 international’s parents.
Kevin Gallen coached Grego-Cox in his first training session at the club and was quick to tell the powers that be that he should be signed.
Gallen said: “I was coaching the Under-14s at QPR. Terry O’Sullivan, who was the scout then ,brought Reece in during the summer for a training session and I said, ‘he’s all right, him’.
“Then he played in a game and after the first half I said ‘we’ve got to sign him’. He wasn’t brilliant but he was better than what we had. He can score a goal and he works, he runs his nuts off.
“He has been at Brentford who had released him and I think he was a bit disillusioned and obviously it had knocked his confidence.
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“He kept training and playing for us until around November or December and I kept saying to Terry, ‘look, you’ve got to sign him’.
“I remember we played against Arsenal Under-14s and he scored two goals. We beat them 3-2 at Harlington and after I was saying: ‘Terry, come on, get him signed. If QPR don’t sign him then someone else will, you need to get him now!’
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“He was a good player who was doing well and he was enjoying it.
“Fitzroy Simpson was the manager at the time and I was the assistant and I just kept saying that Reece could score and he could play wide on the right or as a striker.
“They finally signed him. He used to get frustrated a lot. There was a couple of times I pulled him when he was playing for the Under-15s and Under-16s because he would go around sulking.
“I used to tell him that if he was sulking I’d be taking him off. He would get frustrated if he wasn’t getting the better of a full back or a centre half.
“I told him he was no good to me if he was just going to sulk and give up – carry on like that and I’m taking you off.
“But the two things Reece has got is that he can score a goal and he will run all day long.
“He’s a good lad really and he listens. He gets frustrated when things aren’t going his way but he will get better with that with age.
“I used to tell him, ‘do you think you are just going to walk over someone all the time? Centre backs are not going to let you just do what you want. If it was that easy, I’d still be playing! They are there to try and stop you – that’s their job’.
“Reece is a good lad – a nice person. It was good to see him make his debut and if he can get a run of games in the team then I think the fans will take to him because he will always give you honesty and workrate.
“He is so fit – he’s like the Duracell bunny, he just keeps going and going.”
Despite helping players such as Grego-Cox to develop, Gallen was sacked during Mike Rigg’s time at the club in the role of technical director.
Gallen said: “I was in Malaysia doing a Masters Soccer thing and on one of the days I went along with Rufus Brevett and Viv Anderson to visit Air Asia.
“Tony Fernandes pulled me aside and he told me he was signing the most important person QPR will ever sign. Then he told me it was Mike Rigg, I didn’t know who he was talking about.
“Rigg brought in Richard Allen as head scout, he leaves and then become academy manager.
“He brought in all his mates from his youth club in Tottenham.
“I was sacked by email when I was the Under-18s assistant manager by a guy who was doing the audit called Shaun Hallett.
“There’s a lot said about the QPR family but I certainly wasn’t shown any respect in the manner they sacked me.
“Last year Harry Redknapp said he was going to get me back involved. He said, ‘Kev, just come in’.
“I saw Phil Beard at the training ground and I told him what Harry had said about me coming in. He said, ‘it’s not up to Harry, it’s up to me’.
“This was on the Thursday, I saw him again on the Saturday. He shook my hand and said, ‘Kevin, I’ve got something for you, I will get you in’. I called him up to say I was going to watch a youth team match and wondered if we could meet. He said, ‘Kevin, I’ve got nothing for you’. This was after shaking my hand on the Saturday.”
Gallen believes the club need to be cautious about throwing in too many youngsters at once.
He said: “When I got in the team I was the only young lad in it. I had a senior strike partner in Les Ferdinand next to me, I was 19.
“Trevor Sinclair was 23 and you had Andy Impey, who was 24. Then you had Alan McDonald, Danny Maddix and Clive Wilson and David Bardsley to help guide you.”