When Phil Foden scored against Borussia Dortmund, there was no wild celebration that usually comes with a last-minute winner. As his Manchester City team-mates mobbed him, it was a moment of reflection before pointing to the sky.
Foden has endured the toughest week of his career following the death of his adviser Richard Green, who passed away from Covid-19. It is accurate to say Green was with Foden, and his family, on every step of his footballing journey to Champions League football and England caps.
Eight days before Foden’s first-team debut, Green joined the teenager and his parents at the North West Football Awards as he was named Rising Star of 2017. The young player that Green had utter faith in was starting to get recognition. If Green was in your corner, you would get 100 per cent backing, and Foden had that force pushing him.
When he plays for England at the European Championship, Foden will be part of the tapestry of figures from the modern game touched by Green’s work as a lawyer and adviser.
It was Green who travelled to Valencia to help persuade Rafael Benitez to accept Liverpool’s offer to become their manager.
“Maybe without him Istanbul would not have happened,” said Benitez last week in his tribute to his friend, adviser and solicitor.
Green was a fanatical Liverpool fan who idolised Bill Shankly and dreamt of playing at Anfield when he was a child. He eventually played in front of the Kop in Ronnie Moran’s testimonial in 1990. His faith in his own goalkeeping abilities was as strong as the belief he showed in his clients.
Friends have joked that Green’s rose-tinted spectacles would now be worth a fortune. He never wavered from his player being the best in the world, or his coach being smarter than any other. What other player in the world has two feet like Phil Foden? Green’s own children would joke that Foden was like a fourth child of the family.
It was that support that explained why his passing, aged 56, hit Foden so hard last week.
“Heartbroken. Lost for words,” was his initial reaction.
“It’s tough to write this. Richard, you helped and believed in me right from the start. You were amazing and I can’t thank you enough for all you did for me and my family. I’ll do everything I can to make you proud.”
Green’s belief in his clients was backed up with miles on the motorway to watch them play. He was a lawyer, but rarely behind the desk all day. He would head to an England Under-21 match with Foden’s parents to watch a match worlds away from the glamour of the Champions League.
Other deals he was involved with included Andy Carroll’s £35 million move to Liverpool from Newcastle which saw the striker become the most expensive British signing. He also successfully defended Steven Gerrard when the Liverpool captain was charged with assault and affray.
Gabriel Heinze was a client when he attempted to move to Liverpool from Manchester United, while Green also represented Joey Barton in 2015 when he went to Burnley.
Kenny Dalglish, Terry McDermott and Jamie Carragher were among others who paid tribute to Green, who was said to support the person rather than the badge while working in football and forging relationships with players, managers and their families.
He was working for the Hill Dickinson legal firm when he helped bring Benitez to England, then set up 1810 Sports Ltd, of which he was managing director. “We called him Petrocelli after a TV lawyer who was big at the time and I don’t think he ever lost that nickname,” recalled Dalglish. Many say he was much more than a lawyer. He would advise on multimillion-pound contracts, but had a priceless bond with players, one that advisers dream of when “rep agreements” are signed.
Foden had “RIP Richard Green” on his undershirt when he played against Dortmund and his adviser was clearly the first thing on his mind when he rolled the ball past Marwin Hitz. The first step in honouring the man who helped him reach great heights before his 21st birthday.
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