Twan Scheepers says he’s loving life at Derby County - and he’s enjoying playing a key role in Phillip Cocu’s backroom staff.
Scheepers joined Derby in the position of Specialist First Team Coach back in July following Cocu’s appointment.
The pair had previously worked together during Cocu’s successful spell in charge of PSV Eindhoven.
Cocu’s long-time number two Chris van der Weerden also followed him to Derby during the summer, while Scheepers gave up his role coaching role at PSV Eindhoven to join the Rams’ new look coaching team.
Liam Rosenior also joined as a Specialist First Team Coach soon afterwards and Shay Given retained his place on the staff as Head Goalkeeping Coach.
Scheepers’ main duties at PSV, where he coached for 14 years, saw him primarily work with the Dutch giant’s academy and reserve sides.
However, the lure of working under Cocu and the start of a new journey was too big to turn down.
Speaking to RamsTV, looking back on seven months with the club, Scheepers said: “I love life at Derby County and life in Derby is wonderful. Me and my wife are really enjoying it and life is good here.
“I think we are building something here. It’s also about developing and working together to know each other better and at one point everything comes together.”
Upon his appointment in the summer, Cocu explained that Scheepers had played a key role in his time at PSV.
He described him as the link-up between young players who moved up to the first team, went back to Under-23 level and then stepped up again.
Scheepers has enjoyed forming a relationship with Derby’s players and playing his part in the early stages of Cocu’s first season in charge.
Many supporters will have seen his working relationship with players on a matchday, offering a small insight into his character.
He is regularly seen providing encouragement and focus in the pre-match warm-ups and, following positive results, congratulating the players at the final whistle with a beaming smile and hug.
Away from the matchday focus and public eyes, Cocu and his entire staff have worked tirelessly throughout the season to develop and evolve Derby’s players and, in turn, the team itself.
Scheepers likes the fact every individual player has their own story in becoming part of the team.
He explained: “When you look to create a team you have to start with the individuals, because that’s really important to learn their skills and attributes to know them better.
“This isn’t just for the youngsters but the older players too. It is important to have a certain kind of relationship with those players to get close to them.
“When you see the players work hard on the pitch and on the training ground, how they improve every day and month, you build some kind of relationship and you do it together.
“When you see the team grow and the result comes your way at the end of the game, that’s what makes me happy, the players happy and I love that part. You work with a team, of course, but the individual has its own story and they melt that together.”
He added: “You work all week for each game and that’s why I am as happy as the players when we get a positive result.”
Cocu arrived at Derby with a clear track record of developing exciting young talent.
The Dutchman has continued that fine work this season and several of the Rams’ youngsters are flourishing at the present moment.
As many as nine recent Academy graduates to have played first-team football for the Rams this season, while a number of up-and-coming youngsters have also been in-and-around the squad.
Jason Knight and Morgan Whittaker, who signed new contracts last month, are two of four Academy products to have made their professional debuts for the Rams this term, alongside England youth internationals Lee Buchanan and Louie Sibley.
The quartet all played their part in Derby’s Under-18s becoming National Champions last season.
Scheepers believes Derby’s youngsters are making good progress and says there’s a strong link-up between the first-team set-up and the Academy.
He said: “What we saw at the beginning of the season were youngsters who wanted to increase their games and for us it was about how we could bring them into the first team.
“We work very close together and with the coaches in the Academy, who provide us with good information as to how they worked before. It’s great to see they are doing well and we hope that they develop more to become first-team players in the future.
“There have been periods where some of our young players have slowly become first-team players and that’s what we want to see and the Academy wants to see it too. It has to be a great feeling for all involved at Derby County when that happens.”
He added: “We have seen the ability and attributes of those youngsters. They work hard every day and show real resilience to grow every day and that’s what they have to do.
“You have to be a grow up very quick, which is tough because of the physicality and mentally you have to be on top too, but they are doing very well.”