Darren Freeman has revealed the inspiration which is driving him to success with Whitehawk.

Former Albion striker Freeman joined George Parris as joint boss of the ambitious Hawks in the summer.

The pair are hoping to lead Whitehawk out of the County League and up football’s pyramid.

Freeman wants to make a success of his first job in management – both for himself and for his late father, Reg, who died two months ago.

He said: “It was my dad who was the one who really said to me you must get into management. It meant even more to him being Whitehawk, because he took me over there as a youngster with Les Berry and Sammy Donnelly at the age of 15.

“When my dad was poorly he said when he got out of hospital he would come and help me, do my scouting or whatever. Now dad has passed away this means a lot to me this season. I would like to do it for me, for George and for my dad.”

During his career with Gillingham, Fulham, Brentford and Albion, Freeman was seen as a free spirit, a flair player with an eye for a goal.

But he had developed an interest in coaching which now, having taken time out to follow the careers of his two sons, he wants to develop at East Brighton Park.

Freeman said: “While I was playing football I did a little coaching with youngsters. I don’t think I ever thought to myself that one day I’ll be a manager but I have grown up a little now, I have mellowed out a lot, while still being passionate about the game.

“So many people said to me you are wasted, you should be involved in football and and I felt the time was right.”

Freeman could have chosen an easier place to launch his management career. Hawks are expected to win the County League this season, which is quite an ask for a novice boss, particularly with a side which finished 13th last year.

But the Whitehawk board have given Freeman and Parris, the former West Ham and Albion midfielder, the funds to achieve success and Freeman is relishing the challenge.

The 36-year-old said: “Any club you go to, there are expectation levels. The board are ambitious, the same as me. I could have gone to a higher club but I didn’t think they were as ambitious as Whitehawk.

“There is pressure but I don’t mind that. I have played in a lot of teams who have been expected to do well and that is pressure as well. Maybe I like it, maybe it is part of my personality that I like putting myself under a bit of pressure.

“I believe Whitehawk Football Club is a sleeping giant and it could really go places. The board are putting their money where their mouth is and doing everything off the pitch they said they would do.”

Freeman and Parris, who took over as Hawks boss in the summer of 2008, have assembled a squad of Sussex-based players, many with Albion connections, who have all played at a higher level.

With such a major overhaul of the squad, it has taken time to gel but Hawks are top of the table after ten games and Freeman believes there is plenty more to come from the squad.

He said: “We still have a lot room for improvement. I want to be playing football for 90 minutes, not 15 here, 20 there and then ten minutes off the pedal.

“Getting the likes Stuart Robinson, Darren Budd, Scott Kirkwood, Sam Fisk and Jay Lovett shows how ambitious we are, because they could have gone anywhere they wanted.

“They know we want to play football and do the right things.

“The team is really gelling and Josh Jones has been fantastic for us this season.

“When George and I sat down in the summer we said we didn’t want to bring in any Big Time Charlies, no one who will cause you grief, just honest lads.

“The last thing you need in the dressing room is someone who thinks they are better than anyone else. We have got a good bunch of honest lads which is important.

“I was reading Chris Eubank’s interview in The Argus. He was saying you can be the best at tennis, driving, racing, boxing, football, anything, but if you are lacking a bit of ingredient you are never going to make it. It was a nice article and it has made me think if I can have all the right ingredients I can go higher and the same applies to the players.”