Carr made an MBE

Tony Carr has spoken of the "humbling" experience of being made an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours list.

The Academy Director has been honoured for his services to football - a fitting reward for four decades of work for the club he loves. The Royal recognition was confirmed on the day that six of the greatest products through the club's youth system prepare to represent England at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Carr, 59, said the news was the continuation of a "special year" that saw him rewarded by the club with a testimonial last month. In fact, the letter telling him came through the morning after Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Co had turned out to honour him in an all-star game at the Boleyn Ground.

"The letter dropped through my door the day after the testimonial," he told "The morning afterwards, there it was. It just said 'you have been nominated for an MBE, having been recommended by the Prime Minister's office for the Queen to consider'.

"I had no idea what it was at all. I thought it was a parking fine at first, or a speeding fine or something. It was a brown envelope with Her Majesty's Service written on it. I didn't expect it to be what it was at all.

"I didn't take it in. I had to read the letter three or four times before I could believe it. I was with my wife Brenda and we were just looking at each other and saying 'wow'.

"Who would have thought of it? Growing up on a council estate in Bow to someone who ends up with an MBE. I would never have dreamed something like this would happen to me. It just completes a special year, with my testimonial and now this. It doesn't get any better."

With some difficulty, Carr managed to keep the news secret from everyone at the club and even his two sons and daughter, before breaking the news at a special family celebration on Friday night. "Funny enough I went to London the other day and my wife and I were in a shop. They wanted our details for a mailing list and my wife joked I should put down Tony Carr MBE. I said 'not until next week!'.

"Seriously, though, it is very humbling to think that you have been recognised by the establishment. It won't change me but I am so grateful. I also have to thank a lot of people for their part in my career. Certainly if it wasn't for John Lyall, I might never have been interested in coaching.

"I have a lot to be thankful for to John and many other people over the years. It is certainly a great honour."

Carr is expecting his former Academy charges to all have a "wry smile and a good laugh" when they hear the news while preparing with England for tonight's World Cup encounter with the United States. He had wished all well - including injured captain Ferdinand - at last month's testimonial and will watch at home a happy man.

"I will have a lot of pride when I see them. They all turned out a month ago and now on the day I will watch them all for England, this is announced. I am very fortunate and, like I say, humbled by the whole experience. I am proud to be English. I am London born and bred and I am also pleased that the club's work is recognised."

After the World Cup and dreams of Three Lions glory, Carr will get ready to visit Buckingham Palace and perhaps a meeting with the Queen. "I have been in close company before when she opened the new stand a few years ago but I have never met her personally. That will be a very special day for the whole family. I can't wait."