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S GLOSS BOSSGLOSSTO S; I was offered my first job in football management while painting the bedroom ceiling .. years later my journey has taken me to a Hampden cup final against Celtic (And I still haven't finished that ceiling).

Byline: KENNYSHIELS

A HALF-PAINTED ceiling at home in Northern Ireland marks the start of a managerial dream that will see me lead Kilmarnock out at Hampden on Sunday in a major cup final.

Ahead of such huge occasions you think back to the people who gave you the opportunities to achieve things in the game. For me, that was Billy Patterson - the man who offered me my first job as a manager.

Billy was Mr Football in South Derry, a football man through and through. At that time he was in charge of non-league Tobermore United but was giving it up.

I was upstairs, in the middle of painting the bedroom ceiling for my wife Gwen, when he chapped the door. He said: "Kenny, I want you to become manager of Tobermore United."

Without a word of a lie, to this day I've never finished painting that ceiling. I said yes straight away and put everything I had into that job.

We won four trophies in that spell and it got me a job with Carrick Rangers. It continued from there - and set me on the road to Hampden.

I'll always respect Billy for giving me my first opportunity in football. The fact I was the person he wanted to take over Tobermore at that time made me really proud.

Billy is retired now and lives back home in Maghera. Unfortunately he won't be able to make the League Cup Final because his father, Willie, passed away last week and it's a very sad time for the family. His dad was a legend in Maghera. I couldn't make the funeral and I'd love to win the Cup for him.

FIGHTERS I will be thinking of others like him as we get closer to the Final, those who have shaped my career and my life. My father Roy, of course, who was a real football man. And I've two brothers who almost lost their lives - and another, who did lose his life.

Those thoughts are always in my head. My brother, Russell, was involved in a motorcycle accident and suffered an aneurysm but they didn't realise until the other wounds started to heal and he was rushed back into hospital for a crucial operation.

But he pulled through - the Shiels family are fighters.

My other brother, Sammy, broke his leg and went to get it set at hospital but something happened following anaesthesia.

He was on a life support machine for five days. It was all about fighting against the odds and winning. Something we'll have to do on Sunday.

But I don't put my personal aspirations above the aspirations of the team. I'm trying to keep things on an even keel and trying to make sure I'm thinking of the go e team first and that every single player the squad. means in We have a family of 20-odd players and I have to consider every emotion and every feeling of every player within our family. They're all my family - every believe. is what win you one of them - and I have to treat them as such.

going to t emo be I ett to Belief you it If there are players who are be left out then I have to consider the emotions of those not being involved, just as must consider the emotions of those on the bench or starting the game. I have to deal with that, help them in their coping strategies.

have d th str Celtic are 5-1 on to win the Cup but we have to believe. Belief is what helps you win. Without belief you don't have anything.

Celtic are chasing the Treble, so this is the start of their bid for a clean sweep. Everyone is saying they're nailed on to do that but we have our own aspirations - to try to do our best, give Celtic a good game in the first instance and see where that takes us.

We have to improve our stock in how we play and we want to entertain. This is the best final you could possibly get right now in my opinion because Celtic will be playing against a team who are going to come out.

I can't go into detail about how I make the players believe - because that's private - but we work on the psychology of the team and work on lots of things about ourselves as well as the opposition.

PREPARE But if we were playing East Stirling, who are the bottom team in Scotland, and we had no belief then we wouldn't have a starting block. You must have a starting block.

I've not really had time to get excited because I've been so busy. I'm doing as much as I can to prepare properly so it's been all go from early in the morning until late at night and I'm trying to get the players ready in every way I can.

Basically I've been looking at how we play and how we can try to get our game back. In the last couple of weeks we've lost our game, albeit on bad pitches, but even on a decent pitch at Inverness we didn't have the fluency we've had.

We're trying to get the fluency back in our game and that takes a lot of work. There's a danger of overloading the players so we have today off which gives them a bit of a breather.

But we're just trying to prepare in away that is totally professional, as we are in every game kee sim nndd give a good the first and see that us game, and we're keeping it pretty similar to what we normally do. I'm not saying we're doing anything different.

ha and this i there a this week w We always work hard on information preparation so is no different. But are extra duties with the media and local businesses, so that's what is adding the new dimension.

I've been in quite a few cup finals so I know how to prepare for it and I'm not saying one is any more special than the other.

This is special because it's current, it's my next final - and I want to be in more finals.

What we have to realise is that since the start of the SPL there's only been one non-city club that has won a trophy, so that's an example of the task that lies ahead of us at Hampden on Sunday.

There are players who have been here since day dot and haven't won a trophy. You can go through your whole career and not win a trophy.

So I want to make sure we give everything we have and not look back and say maybe we should have done this or that.

game, game try to give Celtic a good game in the first instance and see where that takes us this there this week the We have to believe. Belief is what helps you win - without it you don't have anything

CAPTION(S):

that. As told to Gavin Berry I'M A BELIEVER Z Shiels knows the odds are against it but says his Kilmarnock men are capable of spoiling the Treble bid by Celtic boss Neil Lennon, below
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 15, 2012
Words:1207
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