Ex-Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace, Bolton and Ireland man becomes Hartlepool United first-team coach

Curtis Fleming
Curtis Fleming

Craig Hignett will today have Curtis Fleming working alongside him at training as Hartlepool United began preparing for tomorrow night’s vital clash with Notts County.

The new Pools boss has brought in his former Middlesbrough team-mate as SportMail reported last week.

He is first-team coach and then I have scope to appoint an assistant if I want to

CRAIG HIGNETT

But the former Republic of Ireland defender’s role will be as first-team coach, with Hignett revealing he has scope from owners JPNG to bring in an assistant manager as well.

Hignett explained he missed out on a potential right-hand-man who has got a job elsewhere.

“It’s great to have Curtis in,” said Hignett. “Then we’ll take it from there.

“He is coming in as first-team coach and then I have scope to appoint an assistant if I want to.

“But the assistant I wanted has just got a job in the Championship.”

Fleming has a wealth of experience as a top-flight and international player, while he has coached both Crystal Palace and Bolton Wanderers.

The 47-year-old Irishman is close to Hignett, the pair both having been signed by Lennie Lawrence at Middlesbrough in the early 90s, playing key roles in Boro’s promotion to the Premier League.

Fleming made 266 appearances for the Boro before spells at Birmingham City, Crystal Palace, Darlington and Shelbourne in his native Ireland.

The full-back won 10 caps for the Republic of Ireland, making his international debut in Prague against the Czech Republic in 1996.

After retirement, he coached at Boro’s famed Academy at Rockliffe before joining Livingston in 2007, as assistant manager to ex-Boro team-mate Mark Proctor.

Fleming then worked as first team coach at Crystal Palace,before following manager Dougie Freedman at Bolton Wanderers.

“Curtis is a great lad, I’ve known him for years,” said Hignett.

“He’s been first-team coach at Bolton and Crystal Palace and worked with Ireland.

“He has a wealth of experience and someone the lads will bounce off and say things to that they feel uncomfortable talking to the gaffer about – a bit like how I was with Coops I suppose.

“Curtis is very serious, he can laugh and joke, but when he’s serious you know it.

“I can be serious and I can be nasty, if I want to be, but I’m more about putting my arm around someone and making people comfortable.

“But I know some lads don’t need that, they need the other way, I understand that.

“Curtis has contacts, different ones to me because he’s been to different places.”