The 45-year-old was appointed as Reds’ goalkeeper coach last week following the departure of John Vaughan to Bradford City. Pilkington knows academy manager Bobby Hassell and first team coach Adam Murray who both played alongside him at Mansfield Town.
Pilkington told the Chronicle: “I played here for Mansfield and won 1-0 (in 2002). I think Andy White scored a worldie. “They have passionate fans and it’s a really good stadium. “It’s a club which has a great tradition.
“I am really excited to be here. I spoke to Daniel (Stendel, head coach) briefly over the last few weeks. I know Adam really well and Bobby really well and I have spoken to Dale (Tonge, first team coach) quite a few times as well. I am really excited for the challenge. It’s an exciting group of players, they play a high-tempo style and it’s a different style for me to get used to.”
Stendel likes to see his goalkeepers coming out of their box to ‘sweep up’. Pilkington said: “We coach goalkeepers to be good on the ball at every single level, but this is a higher level so you have to coach it a bit more. The manager wants his goalkeepers to get on the ball and play and also sweep from the back. That’s something we will be working on.”
Pilkington has been impressed by Sami Radlinger and Brad Collins, who are expected to battle for the number one shirt this season. He said: “They are very good goalkeepers, with a lot of ability, and very good characters. I will get to know them a lot better over the next few weeks. I am excited to work with them, implement my ideas with them and look forward to the next few months.”
Pilkington began his career with Manchester United, making six Premiership appearances for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in the 1990s. He said: “It was an absolute privilege. I was honoured to have played for him and recently I was honoured to have been in his company again. He’s an incredible man with incredible knowledge about football. He was great to learn from at the start of my career.”
Pilkington went on to represent 11 clubs in a career which spanned a quarter of a century. He has since been goalkeeper coach at Notts County and Cambridge United. He said: “I have played at every level from the Premiership to the Conference so I have experience there. I have coached in League One and League Two so this is the next step for me.
“I am grateful to the gaffer for giving me this opportunity. I am hoping that I can deliver what he wants. I back myself and my ability, but we’re all still learning. “I am looking forward to experiencing different things and having a good journey together.”