James Milner with Dubai-based coach Stephen Deane on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates
James Milner with Dubai-based coach Stephen Deane on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates Image Credit: Supplied

Welcome to Dubai, what is the reason for your visit this time?
During this football break I came out to Dubai to play in the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic Pro-Am. I played off my seven handicap with my Liverpool teammates, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Andy Robertson along with South Africa’s 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel. I enjoy golf as both an individual sport and a team event.

Tell us about your golf coach Stephen Deane.
Stephen (Head of Academies, Dubai Golf, Peter Cowen Academies) has been my golf coach for around three years since we first met up in Dubai. He is a great guy, an excellent coach, so very knowledgeable and when I do not understand something, he changes his style of message so I can properly understand what he wants me to do. He is a very good player and makes the golf technique simple for me and also coaches a lot of very good players, both locally and internationally, both amateur and professional.

When did you take up golf?
I started playing when I was about 16 and played with my dad a couple of times a year. My uncle was the golfer in the family and I played more with him. Golf got me away from football life and as I have travelled the world and have played some great golf courses with my team mates, friends and others. I get less excited these days trying to improve, when you see the top pros shoot 64 and/or struggle with a 75, what chance have we guys got? I am a member of Wilmslow Golf Club and Valderrama in Spain. I played well today on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates along with Stephen. I finished 18 holes in perhaps 5-over par which is below my handicap. It is typical that I am flying back home now, just as my golf is getting much better and I am enjoying it more. There are a lot of associations between football and golf with many footballers playing golf when they have spare time around training and their life at their football club and many golfers love their football. I know a few of the pros on DP World Tour, especially Tyrrell Hatton, who I have got to know well recently.

Tell us about your Golf Management Company you have established?
About four years ago we established White Rose Sports Management, to help develop youngsters to get the most out of their game and their careers with a player management operation. We have signed up Steve McGregor, the fitness and performance guru, who has worked with the likes of Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood.
Players in our stable include American Johannes Veerman, winner of the Czech Masters last year and in action in Dubai last week. We also have 28-year-old Pep Angles of Spain and Walker Cup players Jack Dyer and Ben Schmidt. The USP for our business is the performance side which we have aligned with my football career, knowledge and our contacts.

You have been playing football at the highest level for more than 20 years, what are your career thoughts moving forward?
I am taking my football coaching badges, but my only intention at present, is to play football for as long as I can, us footballers are retired from football for a long time. I also look forward to keep returning to Dubai to play golf in great weather on these great facilities and to see my mate and coach Stephen.

James Milner, 36, first played in the English Premier League in 2002 and has played for Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Liverpool and has played for England 61 times