HE once hit the winning runs for Hampshire against Australia. Now his sporting career has come full circle with his return to Southampton FC.

Iain Brunnschweiler used to play under Micky Adams and Stewart Henderson for Southampton youth teams, as a centre-back and then a goalkeeper in his mid-teens, before focusing on a cricket career with Hampshire.

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As a young pro at Hampshire in the early 2000s

As a 21 year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, he scored the winning runs against Steve Waugh’s Ashes legends, during Hampshire’s first season at the Rose Bowl in 2001, before turning his hand to to coaching.

Brunnschweiler was AFC Totton’s goalkeeper during their run to the 2007 FA Vase final at Wembley, when he was also on Hampshire’s coaching staff.

Then a six-year spell with England U17s involved working closely with the likes of England Test star Sam Curran.

Now, after a year as the strategic lead for talent and performance coaching at UK Coaching, a subsidiary of UK Sport, he is back at Saints as the club’s coach development manager.

“I had a good relationship with Saints from my Hampshire years and at UK coaching we ran an event at the academy where we brought down Olympic coaches to see the way it was run,” he explains.

“So I’ve always had a really good relationship with the club and already knew a number of people here.

“It’s amazing to come full circle and to be in this place on a daily basis. I was at the centre of excellence, am a fan of the club and a massive fan of what they’re doing from a youth development point of view.

“The added bonus is that it’s local and I can cycle here!”

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Keeping wicket in the Southern Premier League (Dave Vokes Photography)

Romsey-based Brunnschweiler is using his experience across a range of sports to help Saints develop the best players they can.

“My role is supporting all the coaches across the academy, from Radhi Jaidi and Craig Fleming with the U23s down to guys working with the Under-9s and also more of a light touch with the pre-academy lead coaches.

“It’s a fantastic role for me because I get to see what’s going on day to day, literally throughout the academy.

“On a given day I might be in the dome with the U9s or I might be travelling up to Man Utd with the U23s on the coach.

“l’ll sit in the dug out with the coaches on match days or get on the field with them during training and just try and support them with observations on the coaching environment.

“As a coach I predominately worked in cricket and at UK coaching I worked across a broader spectrum, supporting coaches across 18 Olympic sports, whether it be cycling in Manchester or athletics in Loughborough.

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AFC Totton's goalkeeper at Wembley during the 2007 FA Vase final 

“But having played semi-pro football I had just about enough credibility to talk to the coaches about football and now feel completely embedded within the environment.

“Coaching is an interaction with people with skills that transcend the individual sport. The technical detail might be different but I’ve focused on things like communication skills, how they interact with the players and the feedback they get.

“I’ve been extremely impressed with general standard of coaching.

“I was really taken aback by how good it is which is a great testament to the people in the building prior to me.

“Matt Hale, the academy manager and Edd Vahid, the assistant academy manager, recruited and helped train up some brilliant coaches.

“I would have expected the coaches at U16, 18 and 23 to be excellent but I was blown away by how good the U8, 9s and 10s coaches are.

“They’re fantastic highly-skilled professionals delivering very enjoyable sessions.”

A dad of two “highly-active young boys”, Brunnschweiler encourages multi-sport training at all ages, partly due to his own experience.

The 39 year-old did not play cricket before starting secondary school and also played hockey and rugby at county level while at King Edward VI.

“At the foundations stage here we run a multi-sport programme where the U9s, 10s and 11s might be doing basketball, handball or kabaddi to use three examples,” he explains.

“Our research clearly shows that children who do multi-sport up to the age of 13 or 14 are better athletes.

“We’d be doing them a disservice if we forced them to do just one sport.”

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Hampshire's assistant coach during the late 2000s (Dave Vokes Photography)

Brunnschweiler credits Hampshire batting coach Tony Middleton as one of his biggest influences, and helped bring through the likes of James Vince, Liam Dawson and Chris Wood during his time on the Hampshire coaching staff.

In more recent years he has worked with Joe Weatherley, Tom Alsop, Brad Taylor and Mason Crane in the England age-group sides.

He is similarly excited by the talent bubbling under the first-team squad at Staplewood. “We’ve got loads of very exciting players,” he said. “In each age group there are really high potential young men coming through. The pipeline of talent is still really rich.

“I just hope they can break through that final hurdle of a first-team opportunity.

“The reality of the Premier League is that it’s getting harder and harder for young players to come through.

“But we’ve had five academy graduates make debuts in league and cup matches since Ralph Hasenhuttl’s arrival and on a number of occasions we’ve had seven or eight academy graduates in the match-day squad.

“It really is validating all of the hard work and passionate support that is provided by everyone throughout the academy, when we see the likes of Kayne Ramsay, Michael Obafemi, Callum Slattery, Yan Valery and Tyreke Johnson join Matty Targett, James Ward-Prowse and others in the first-team squad.

"If I was a 16 year-old at Southampton now, I’d be motivated to work even harder at my game as there are clearly opportunities to play.”