DAN Holman has experienced his fair share of ups and downs, during his playing career.

So it seems entirely appropriate that the former Colchester United striker should turn his hand to helping others tackle the highs and lows of the beautiful game.

Holman is about to launch a new six-week mindset academy programme called ‘Goalman’, with the principal aim of helping young, aspiring players striving for success.

His new venture is not exclusive to footballers; it is designed to prepare any young athlete with the mental tools to attack all aspects of life on and off the pitch.

“Like my story, everyone has got a different journey,” said Holman, who earlier this month announced that he was stepping away from playing football.

“It just gives them a little bit of perspective whether they’re in the academy or playing for a local team that if they apply themselves and they want it, they can make it happen.”

Holman’s professional playing career may have been relatively brief in comparison to others but no-one can argue it was uneventful.

Having impressed for the likes of Long Buckby and Oxford City, the striker secured a move to Conference North side Histon in 2011.

Holman's impressive goal ratio secured him a move to Conference Premier club Braintree Town in August 2012, at the age of 22.

He played his part in helping part-time Iron more than hold their own in the fifth tier of English football, under boss Alan Devonshire.


“It was a big leap for me,” said Holman, who scored 24 league goals in 69 games for the Iron during his two seasons at Cressing Road.

“It was a lot of travelling and a big risk to go for it, still being part-time and not really having another job.

“It paid off and looking back, Alan Devonshire was great in terms of just letting you play and believing in you – if he’d signed you, he believed in you.

“He didn’t give you too many instructions, he just let you be yourself.

“I think I was a bit naïve to it at the time.

"I didn’t really know much about the Conference and I thought ‘yeah, we’re supposed to be near the top of the league’ but there were teams like Newport, Forest Green and Lincoln in there.

“If you look at it now, the part-time teams really struggle and it’s quite tough for them and I didn’t really realise how well we did.

“We had a really good team; I look at the players that Devs used to get in on loan and I think we had the likes of Bradley Dack and Josh Laurent there on loan.

“He got players in that we didn’t know at the time but he could see a player and the players we had over the years, he always saw a good player.

“Devs was really laid back and you feel that trust from him, I suppose.

“At the time, I was a bit hot-headed and wanted to play all the time – if I didn’t, I’d be fuming and wanted to score all the time.

“Now when you look back and reflect, he managed his team really well and he’s still doing it now with Maidenhead.

“Having that influence and belief at the start really helped me.”

Holman’s goals for Braintree caught the eye of League One side Colchester United.

He signed a two-year deal with the U’s in July 2014 – but only after he had come close to signing for their Essex neighbours Southend United.

“Phil Brown initially rang me and asked me to come into Southend,” said Holman.

“I went there for two days and in the meantime, Mark Kinsella rang me and told me Joe Dunne wanted me to come down to Colchester.

“I didn’t have anything cemented at Southend; I’d worked with Mark before and I thought I’d give it a go.

“In hindsight whether that was the right decision or not I don’t know – you can’t look back.

“Under Joe at the start it was an amazing experience and I really enjoyed that pre-season and first couple of months.

“I remember turning up to Colchester and thinking ‘oh my God’ – I thought I was in the Premier League!

“I’d never seen a training ground or anything like that and going from Braintree to there, it’s a lot different.

“I was really excited then, thinking that I had a chance in the Football League.”


Sadly though, things did not work out the way Holman would have liked at Colchester.

Dunne left the U’s in September after a disappointing start to the season, with Tony Humes replacing him in the hot seat.

Holman struggled for game time after that and loan spells in at Wrexham, Aldershot Town and Dover Athletic followed in the 2014-15 campaign.

“I just didn’t get an opportunity,” said Holman, who made five first-team appearances during his two-year stint at Colchester.

“I’d never played in the league but I was hungry and needed that experience and Joe was easing me in.

“But Tony Humes came in and said to me I didn’t have enough Football League experience, at my age.

“I’d just turned 24 and looking back now, it’s hard to take.

“That was his decision at the time but it was so disappointing for me because I’d worked so hard to get there.

“It was like a right hook and I’d never heard that perspective before.

“It was disappointing but I had to pick my head up.

“I went out on loan and I had to drop back down to the Conference.

“I’d just made a step to League One; l I was loving it, doing well in training and scoring goals in pre-season.

"But because I’d never had any League Two experience either, I had to go back to the level I was at before.

“It was a really tough part of my career and at the time, I didn’t have an agent so I didn’t have any advice – I had to take it on the chin.

“I went on loan knowing that I was never going to be involved at Colchester.

“I thought that having the League One player status with me would help me if I did well anywhere.

“But it was tough.

"I think I was on loan at Dover at one stage and I was driving from Northampton to Colchester in the day to do a bit of training and then I’d go from there over to Dover, train with them and then drive home again!

“They were crazy times but I thought if I’m committed to it, I’m going to do it.

“I used to work with (sports scientist) Dave Carolan and do extra bits in the gym – that helped me massively with my confidence and he stuck by me.

“It was a challenge but like anything it only makes you stronger in the end.

“It was my first realisation that it wasn’t just an upward trajectory – you’re going to get hit with a few curveballs as well.

“If I didn’t have my family who have always believed in me and supported me, there’s no way I would have been able to come back from it.


“Sometimes at Colchester, I’d walk to the first team and wouldn’t be with them, then I’d walk to the 21s and my name wasn’t on their list and then I’d go to John McGreal who at the time was the 18s manager and ask him if I could train with them.

“He was like ‘of course Dan’ and he was great with me – he treated me like a professional still and that really helped me to stay sharp, be on it and be in that environment.

“There were Saturdays where I was sat at home thinking ‘I’ve got a League One contract but I’m sitting here watching Gillette Soccer Saturday’ feeling like I wasn’t a footballer and just wanting to get out and play.

“I made some good friends there like Joe Edwards, George Moncur, Sammie Szmodics and Alex Gilbey and none of the lads treated me like I wasn’t meant to be there and that helped build my confidence.

“I went to Woking on loan and did really well and then I got the move to Cheltenham permanently.”

On the back of his profitable Woking stint, Holman left Colchester for Cheltenham Town on a free transfer in January, 2016.

It proved a successful move for the striker, who impressive netted 16 goals in 18 games to help the Robins win the National League title.

But injury hampered Holman in League Two the following season and loan spells followed for Boreham Wood and Leyton Orient before he joined Aldershot Town on a permanent basis in August, 2018.

But he left the Shots after only three months, paving the way for him to take a different direction.

“I decided to step away from playing full-time at Aldershot because I was travelling a long away again,” said Holman.

“My ambition was to play as high as I could and when I felt like I was sort of plodding along in the Conference playing sometimes and not playing sometimes, I’ve just got the personality where I want to achieve.

“I wanted to start something and go and enjoy my football part-time.

“I started a little fitness business in Northampton and enjoyed that and played part-time at Brackley.”

Holman linked up with Kettering Town last summer but a contractual dispute ultimately led to his departure from the Poppies – and prompted Holman to decide to hang up his boots.

“That was the final straw for me at my age and I thought perhaps it was a sign that there are so many things you can take,” he said.

“I put it aside and focused on the next chapter and I’m happy about it now – I can still play for enjoyment because I love football but dealing with that and trying to work as well was too much.

“I was so fortunate to have set something up on the side because if I hadn’t had an income with a new-born baby of three months old, a mortgage and wife and they’d done that to me, who knows where I’d have been left.

“Football is like life sped up! You learn so many lessons within about six years that people about 50 years to learn.”

Holman is now preparing to launch ‘Goalman’, a six-week programme where he will strive to help, educate and inspire young athletes realise their dreams and become the very best they can be.

Holman said: “I started pre-Covid just doing some one-on-one and small groups and individual training, mainly helping people to add more goals to the game because I think that’s a massive part of any position.

“Your value just goes through the roof if you can do that and if you’re a centre-half or midfielder and score a few goals, people just want to add you to the team.

“That area is the main focus of it but because Covid hit, I actually set up a mindset programme.

“It’s mainly aimed at kids from nine to 14 years old and it’s things that will not only help people on the pitch but also off the pitch as well like taking responsibility, putting habits into your life, being disciplined.

“I’ve got a six-week mindset programme that I’ve run the boys through when they couldn’t train and it actually had such a big impact on them that I’ve made it a stand-alone programme now.

“People can join for six weeks, we have two live calls a week – one with myself going through the topic and then on a Sunday, I get one of my ex-team-mates or another current professional footballer to just share their story with the young lads.

“We have little homework tasks each week, just to let them take action and goal setting.

“I had the support system and mindset to keep taking the knockbacks but some people don’t have that, so I’m aiming to help them to set up with their habits and their lifestyle and the way they attack each day, to help them be successful in whatever they do.

“I think that’s so important, especially with the mental health aspect in football.

“If I didn’t have the side job that I set out to do, it would have been really tough for me just taking those hits so if I can help these boys set themselves up early or get the right mentor, then that would be amazing for me.

“There’s been an opportunity to take it online and if people want the one-to-one coaching, I can do it wherever I am in the world and that’s great.

“The scope online allows me to help as many people as possible.

“But my real focus is off the pitch.

“Once someone gets to a club and they get good training and good coaching and do their extras it’s great but that mindset to do the extras in the first place and set yourself up for success is for me so critical - that’s the direction.”

As part of the six-week programme, youngsters will hear current professional players share their journey each week on live video calls.

Holman said: “Joe Edwards came on and spoke about playing in the Championship, getting relegated.

"He got held back a year at Aston Villa when he was younger and that was great for some of them who are a bit smaller.

“He shared some tips and the boys’ reaction was fantastic – they were so happy to speak to a professional footballer.

“I was at Aldershot with Lewis Kinsella for a bit and he spoke about being at Villa around the likes of Jack Grealish.

“I think he was on the bench for an FA Cup quarter-final but he’s had a few injuries and setbacks to deal with and he also spoke about staying strong mentally.”

So why exactly has Holman decided to hang up his boots now, at the age of 30?

“One of the reasons I’ve decided to stop now is that if I’d given it six or seven years, you’re not as current,” he added.

“I’d rather start now at the age of 30 and build up the experience while at the same time having loads of connections with players who are still playing and managers.

“Hopefully I can use those connections to help and give an insight and share as much information with these lads as possible.

“It is achievable – it’s just not getting distracted.”

Given his own eventful playing career, Holman knows more than anyone how vital that is.

Dan Holman's six-week ‘Goalman’ programme begins on January 28.

For more information, email Danholman30@icloud.com or visit IG @goalman_