Leslie Reed

Les Reed

Areas of Interest


Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Science, 2015


Leslie Reed was born 9 December 1952 in Wapping, London and is an English football coach and Physical Education teacher (Loughborough University).  He has lived on the Essex/Suffolk border for the past 20 years, and played a short stint with Cambridge United before joining the Football Association (The FA) as a development officer. He worked there for nine years in a variety of roles including Regional Director of Coaching and coach at The FA National School, where he worked with future football stars including Joe Cole, Sol Campbell, and Michael Owen, among others. 

Les accompanied Bobby Robson's England team in Italy for his first World Cup in 1990. This was the first of three World Cup finals tournaments in which he would serve his country.

In 1995 Reed left the FA to become Alan Curbishley's assistant at Charlton Athletic, helping them to gain promotion to the FA Premier League via the playoffs in 1998. Reed was then appointed Director of Technical Development at the FA by Howard Wilkinson, its Technical Director at the time. He coached England's new under-15 National Team to win the Nationwide Trophy at Wembley, defeating an Argentine team that included Carlos Tevez. 

During his time with the FA, Les had the opportunity to work with and learn from great coaches including Bobby Robson, Dave Sexton and Don Howe, who were world leaders in football development at the time, and soon to be followed by Terry Venables and Graham Taylor. This laid the foundations for Les’ vision for player development. He was involved in the establishment of the FA’s Centre of Excellence programme which identified top players including Sol Campbell, Joe Cole, Jermaine Defoe, Scott Parker, Jamie Carragher, Ian Walker, Nick Barmby, Andy Cole, Glen Johnson, Phillip Neville and many others. 

The organised Talent Identification process that was put in place lead to the discovery of Alan Shearer, Stephen Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Jamie Redknapp, Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and more for the National Youth Teams. Les hails the biggest success in having the 14-16 age group of elite players in one place. It enabled Les and his team to conduct several research programmes and learn a significant amount about player development which could be passed down to Academies later.

After short periods as Head Coach for Charlton Athletic and Fulham, Les joined Southampton FC as Director of Football, where he has recently opened £30 million training development centre. Les  and his technical department have implemented a playing style and standards in coaching, medicine and analytics, for under-eights up to the first-team, that are founded on best practice across the globe. The 12 practice pitches vary in composition because Premier League clubs all use different turf. Each morning, the players take tests relating to how they feel, how well hydrated they are and how they have slept before even contemplating training. The emphasis is not on medical remedies but prevention. Southampton Football Club’s Academy is now world-leading for the development of players, producing more first team players than any other, demonstrating Les’ success in his development pathway vision.

A strong advocator of coach education and development, Les is a frequent speaker for the FA and NSCAA development initiatives, and partners The Coaching Manual, a world-wide resource for coaching excellence, and accreditor of Anglia Ruskin University’s online Football coaching degree, the first of its kind, which was launched in 2013.

Finally as Head of the Football Division and member of the F.A Senior Management Team, Les designed and implemented the current UEFA Pro Licence within the UK football coaching structure. 


Les Reed is Head of Football Development and Executive Director Football for Southampton Football Club, and is an inspirational coach and innovator.

Born in London, Les spent his playing career at Watford, Wycombe Wanderers and Cambridge United, yet it was as a coach that he would reach the pinnacle of the sport.

In 1986, Les joined the Football Association( FA) as a development officer., later becoming Regional Director of Coaching and Coach at The FA National School, where he helped to develop the skills of players like Michael Owen and Joe Cole.  In 1990, he accompanied Bobby Robson’s England team to Italy for the first of his three world cup tournaments.  In 1995 he moved to Charlton Athletic as Assistant Manager, then in 1998 returned to the FA as Director of Technical Development, also coaching the under-15 National Team to victory in the Nationwide Trophy with a win over Argentina at Wembley. 

During his time with the FA, Les played a core role in the establishment of the Centre of Excellence programme, opening the door for players like Jamie Carragher and Phillip Neville.  He also designed and implemented the current UEFA Pro Licence within the UK football coaching structure.  Les’s time at the FA gave him the opportunity to work with, and learn from, some of the greatest managers in the game – people like Bobby Robson and Terry Venables.  And this experience was to lay the foundation for his vision of player development.

In 2006, Les took over as Head Coach at Charlton Athletic; in 2007 he became Technical Director at Fulham FC; then in 2010, Director of Football, Performance, Development and Support at Southampton FC. 

Les and his technical team at Southampton have since developed and implemented a coaching methodology that is widely recognised as the template for coaching best-practice.  Their training facility has 12 practice pitches of varying compositions to replicate the different pitches at other Premier League grounds.  And each morning before training, Southampton players take a variety of tests to determine their performance potential, how well hydrated they are, and even how well they’ve slept the night before.

The club’s standards in coaching, medicine and analytics are world-leading, and their results have been remarkable.  Southampton’s academy and their production line of startling young talent is the envy of every club in the Premier League.

As a committed advocate for improved education and development of football coaches, Les is a frequent speaker for the FA and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.  He has also played a leading role in the development of The Coaching Manual, an online resource for football coaches at all levels, from Sunday morning volunteers and parents, to UEFA-qualified Academy staff.  
We have built a relationship with The Coaching Manual through our online BSc degree in Coaching for Performance in Football, and Les has actively promoted this to key potential markets in the US.