ST MIRREN defender Jim Goodwin has revealed that his manager, Tommy Craig, had to persuade him not to stop playing following his latest brush with the authorities.
The Irish veteran’s four years with the Paisley club have been pock-marked by cautions and dismissals and, although he will return to the side for tonight’s William Hill Scottish Cup fourth-round replay against Inverness Caledonian Thistle, he had considered quitting after his latest violent outburst.
Goodwin admits that he was so appalled by his behaviour after studying replays on Sportscene of him elbowing Dundee United teenager Aidan Connolly in the face towards the end of his side’s 3-0 defeat at Tannadice on 1 November that he planned to hang up his boots.
The SFA used the television evidence to sideline Goodwin for three games and, as he prepares to return, he has come to the conclusion that he must control his temper if he is to continue working in the sport.
“When I saw the incident back on the Sunday night I knew it couldn’t go on,” said the 33-year-old. “There was that split-second thought that maybe I should quit playing all together.
“The game has changed and I need to change with it or get left behind. I spoke to [manager] Tommy Craig about quitting. I told him I didn’t want to be causing him headaches every other week.
“My disciplinary record is a joke, I am aware of that. I am not going to change my style of play in terms of being competitive as there is only one reason why I am in the team.
“I am there because I am competitive – I organise boys and make life difficult for the opposition but I can do all that and still stay on the right side of the law. That’s the way forward.”
Craig, for his part, is hoping that Goodwin will be able to channel his aggression in a more positive way from now on.
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“Having Jim back is great because of his leadership qualities,” he said. “We know what’s gone before and we don’t want to start talking about it again.
“He’s clear in his mind what he has to do and we know the influence that he can bring. But he has to show a measure of control in the way he approaches the game.“
Goodwin was appointed to Craig’s backroom staff after he succeeded Danny Lennon as manager during the summer but he accepts that a career in management may not be an option if he falls foul of referees again.
“I want to be taken seriously as a coach,” he said. “I have been working hard on that side of things as I took my first coaching badge at 20 years of age when I was down in England and I’ve worked on them for the last 12 years.
“I’m starting the [UEFA] Pro-Licence in January. I hope to complete that in the next couple of years. I want to play for as long as I can and then go into coaching.
“Obviously, I don’t want other clubs to be thinking: ‘There is no chance we will give this guy a job because he is a bomb scare’. I don’t want that. This could have a negative effect going forward but it is up to me to change people’s perception of me.”
Asked whether he can change his behaviour, Goodwin replied: “It has proved difficult in the past but the bottom line is that it is going to cost me my career.
“I never thought it would come that far. It is stuff that I don’t need to do – I don’t need to be doing the little things off the ball.”
Craig, meanwhile, is leaning towards giving a second start in four days to striker Steven Thompson after the 36-year-old returned from a three-month lay-off due to a groin problem in Saturday’s 1-1 draw.
“Thommo was very positive this morning and he’s raring to go so the chances are that he’ll play again,” he said.
“I think to myself: ‘Do you rate one competition higher than the other?’ and, obviously, we want to be in the Premiership next season.
“The last time he came back [in August] it was too early for him and we both knew, in our heart of hearts, that it could backfire on us.
“But this time I think we’ve done enough in terms of the training and – fingers crossed – there will be no harm done.”
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