• Sought advice from Belgian international boss Roberto Martinez after landing job
  • Team sit rock bottom of the Scottish Highland League with one point from 18 games
  • UEFA A Licence coach has fascinating CV that includes posts in MONGOLIA
  • Vows that the only way is UP for a club who currently can’t use their home stadium
  • Becomes first ever Scottish senior Head Coach of South Asian descent

HOLDING THE FORT...Shadab Iftikhar prepares for the task ahead at Fort

SHADAB IFTIKHAR is the new boss of Fort William, the bottom club in Scotland's Highland League, and he has the counsel of Belgium supremo Roberto Martinez to lean on.

Barrier-breaking Shadab, the Scottish game's first senior Head Coach of South Asian heritage, includes a role working as a scout for the Belgian international team in his Sport Careers Agency CV.

After being announced as Fort William's new gaffer Shadab revealed that former Everton manager Martinez had taken a call to help with advice on revitalising the fortunes of a team who sit dead last in their division with just one point from 18 games.

UEFA A Licence coach Iftikhar said: "Roberto has helped my career so much, he's the smartest man I have ever met in football.

"Not just Roberto but the whole Belgian team staff have been so helpful and generous with their time and knowledge.

"I did ask him to come and coach at Fort William for a couple of weeks but that didn't go down too well!"

Iftikhar is a coach with a difference. He was destined for a coaching role in Canada when the chance came up to coach Bayangol in the soccer outpost of Mongolia and he jumped at it.

It was a world away from his hometown of Preston in the north of England but Shadab reflected: "It was tough at times but that move was massive for me.

"That was my first big opportunity and I had to adapt to the culture.

"I learned both as a person and as a coach and in time I was offered a role as assistant coach of the Mongolian national team.

"I have nothing but great memories of my time there."

Now Iftikhar has a sobering challenge in front of him at Fort William, that statistic of one point from 18 league matches is just the tip of the iceberg.

Fort have a Highland League goal difference of -57 and their last two games have been a 10-0 League loss to Deveronvale and a 10-1 League Cup thrashing at the hands of Brora Rangers.

Add to that the state of their home stadium Claggan Park through disrepair and vandalism means they must play all their matches away from home and it is a daunting mission he has taken on.

IT WAS MENTOR BE...Shadab found a big supporter in Belgium boss Roberto

Yet Shadab insisted: "I researched the club and the potential they have and it's a no-brainer.

"We will train hard and look to improve every day. I'm not a magician but I feel we can get better results through our hard work together."

This week has seen long-time SCA client Shadab hit the headlines as a standard bearer for coaches in the South Asian community.

He admits he yearns for the days when an appointment such as his won't make Sky Sports simply because of his heritage.

Shadab stressed: "Look, I hope it inspires others but I was shocked when I heard that statistic.

"Football should reflect society and we have to all work together to ensure The Beautiful Game does that when it comes to who holds coaching posts."

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