NCE Soccer founder John Curtis has joined Hartford Athletic as Assistant Coach.

The former Manchester United and England defender will join the USL Championship club as assistant to new Head Coach Radhi Jaïdi for the 2020 season.

Jaïdi has taken charge at Hartford Athletic on a 12-month secondment from Premier League club Southampton where he was formerly working as Under 23 coach.

He believes Curtis’ knowledge of the US coaching system be crucial to his success after seven successful years coaching in Connecticut.

Curtis will remain the head of NCE Soccer and continue to oversea the coaching program he pioneered whilst assisting the former Tunisian International at Hartford.

Curtis said: “This is a great honor and a terrific opportunity for me to try and help Hartford Athletic and further my development as a coach. My background is professional soccer, so I’m delighted to be back working in this environment again.

“The USL Championship is an exciting platform and I hope my knowledge of the US game and player development in particular, can help the club progress.

“Player development is a huge passion of mine and working at the pro level will sharpen my focus and help me to refine the processes in place at NCE, hopefully allowing us to create an even better environment.”

Curtis coaching and playing experience includes some of the best clubs in the world including playing for Manchester United between 1997 and 2000 and as a member of their treble winning squad of 1999. 

He was also the captain of England U15, U16, U18 and U20 national team. John holds the prestigious UEFA A License and USSF A Licence. He is also a US Soccer Grass Roots Instructor coach. 

John has worked within youth academies in England, Australia and Italy and with several US clubs across the region.

Curtis met some members of the first team on Thursday to begin pre-season preparations for the new campaign and was officially unveiled to the Hartford team.

He added: “It is great to start working with the players and we are all excited about the new season and the opportunities we have ahead of us.

“We have six weeks of really hard work to ensure we are ready for the new season. The club are ambitious and we have to make sure we are ready for the start of the season.

“The focus of the staff will be to raise standards and bring the levels of professionalism Radhi talks about. Its second nature with our background, but imparting this on the players will be a challenge…but one I’m really relishing.

“Our NCE Soccer program is flourishing and we are about to begin our Spring training programs. My team are ready to get going and we are looking forward to expanding into new areas and we have some exciting announcements soon regarding the future development of NCE Soccer.

“It will be an exciting time for us all and I looking forward to working with the teams at Hartford and continuing our excellent progress at NCE Soccer.”

NCE Soccer are about to begin try-outs for their Centre of Excellence Spring training programs in the New York Metro,  New England and Mid-Atlantic regions in April. Further try-out dates are to be announced soon.

Hartford begin the USL Championship campaign on Friday March 13 away at New York Red Bulls II before their opening home fixture on Saturday 21 March against Charleston Battery.

They have been busy in the off-season re-signing former Athletic star Mac Steeves alongside new signings Dre Deas, Alex Dixon, Ever Guzmán, Matheus Silva,  Arthur Rodgers, Noah Parvicini and Alex Lara.

Head coach Radhi Jaïdi believes he can bring Premier League professionalism to the USL and wants the fans to back his team as they bid for USL Championship glory.

He said:  I think professionalism is the main concept that I think soccer in the USA needs at this moment, especially at the USL level, to grow up. From my perspective, the main challenge is understanding the culture and the people I’m working with.

“I think that’s the most important thing for me at the moment. And then moving forward, that’s how I can have an impact on what we do here.

“The fans are really important. We want them to be around us, we want them to support us, we want them to be behind us every single minute.”

Jaïdi’s arrival at Hartford is part of a developing partnership between Hartford Athletic and the Southampton Academy, which may in the future involve player loans.

Radhi Jaïdi played 105 times for Tunisia and played centenaries back for Espérance Sportive de Tunis, Bolton Wanderers, Birmingham City, and Southampton Football Club.