'It's a dream come true' - Graeme Lee discusses the feeling of becoming Hartlepool United's new manager
Graeme Lee admits it was a dream come true to be named the new manager of Hartlepool United.
Lee represented Pools over 250 times on the field as he started out his playing career at the Suit Direct Stadium but has always envisaged coming back to the club as a manager at some stage.
And following the shock exit of Dave Challinor last month, the opportunity arose for Lee to fulfil over a decade long ambition.
“It’s been an ongoing process and a challenging one. Rightly so because the club wants to make sure they get the right candidates in and they want to speak to everyone,” said Lee.
“I’ve had to be patient, but to get it over the line was a dream come true.
“It’s something I've planned for many years. From my playing career, once I got to about 27-years-old you start planning for what’s next and for some reason, because I started my playing career here, the plan was always to come back and be the manager and to get that opportunity is fantastic.
“It’s been a whirlwind. I haven’t ate. Your heads on constantly. I’ve had many calls and discussions over the last few weeks. It was a long wait at times but we’re just delighted to get the nod and excited to get going.”
Lee joins Pools for his first spell in first team management having spent a decade on Teesside with Middlesbrough’s academy side but the 43-year-old insists that he has never been more ready to make the step up.
“I’ve had some great times at Middlesbrough but they were fantastic [when it came to making a decision]. They’ve always known this is what I wanted so the decision was an easy one to be fair.
“I love this football club and I always wanted to get into football management and Hartlepool was always my choice of where I wanted to go.
“I’ve wanted it for many years. The timing, with where I am myself, is perfect.
“Over the years you question whether you’re ready for it but I’m ready for it. It feels right.
“I’ve had 26 years in football. I’ve been a club captain for teams I’ve played for. At Middlesbrough I was developing players and pushing them to get into the first team. Now I've got a focus on just one squad, so it’s not looking up or down.”
And Lee met his new squad for the first time ahead of Pools’ excellent win over Sheffield Wednesday in the Papa John’s Trophy on Wednesday night before taking his first training session on Thursday morning.
“We went and met them before the game at the hotel and wished them all the best. We were very impressed.
“There’s momentum in the club, they're on the up and we want to keep pushing forward.
“The last five league games we’ve lost, but first and foremost we’ve got a cup game with Lincoln and then we’ve got a big game on Wednesday night and we just want to get some points on the board as quick as we can.
“There’s quality in the team. We’ve got a good month to focus and see what we can get out of them.”