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Words: Tim Beynon Photos: Paul Broadrick


g to d seekin d n a e m ed ga legen small-sid nique, Holland treets. e h t g in h n es ec Champio oung players’ t n to reclaim th don n y io s o e L is v impro is on a m the Ajax star in t urban sport, s id v a is lates all met Edgar D h Footb he future of th em and the role t u o Y l a Tot ss t syst nt to discu h youth n’s developme recently hs of the Dutc e r p eir child the trium ould play in th sh parents

t’s rush hour and the streets of London’s Soho district are teeming with commuters and tourists alike. A heavy drizzle gives a chilly autumnal feel to the scene as a small group of young men, wearing shorts, glance at the darkening sky and step gingerly out of a nearby store.


During a lull in traffic the opportunistic guys take to the street, a ball appears from nowhere, four carrier bags are conjured into goalposts and a game of football gets underway. Frequently interrupted by a black cab or two, the spectacle nevertheless draws a crowd and – as the four players turn and trick their way past each other – a familiar, dreadlocked spectator watches on. Unsurprisingly attracting the odd double take and pointed finger Edgar Davids is in London for a brief promotional tour while recuperating from the broken leg that has seen him miss the start of Ajax’s season in Holland. Today the Dutchman – who can rightly claim to be one of world football’s genuinely

of a plush London hotel. “Every time I got a chance I used to play on the streets with my friends. We used to play our little games, it was also how we stayed in shape. “Freestyling is like the modern day hacky sack,” he adds, responding to the suggestion that it is becoming an urban sport in its own right. “It has more of a show element than hacky sack too, so don’t underestimate the power of ball juggling. It can be great for young players because it helps them to get a nice feel of the ball and it helps with your first touch. The fact that it takes a lot of practice also means that players learn that they have to dedicate themselves from a young age. “Can it help on the football pitch too? Absolutely, you are not afraid to take the ball, it’s not that you can juggle during the game but that you know how to control it and, because you can control it, you know that you can beat a man one on one.” Reclaiming the streets and encouraging

“I used to play on the streets all the time with my friends. We used to play our little games, it was also how we stayed in shape” iconic figures – is helping to bring Soho to a grinding halt by championing the return of street football. With the help of a team of football freestylers, of which Total Youth Football’s Billy Wingrove is one, street soccer company Monta is looking to do for street football what Tony Hawk did for skateboarding. Producing a range of denim balls designed for tarmac use – they bounce less and are easier to control – the fledgling company recruited Davids as the figurehead for its campaign to take the game back to the streets. For the former Juventus and Tottenham star, meanwhile, it has given him the chance to rediscover a love for small-sided games and to sing the praises of “simple, fun football.” “This is what the game is all about,” he says later after escaping the rain and relocating to the cosier surrounds

young people to try freestyling is clearly something that inspires the softly spoken midfielder as he speaks about it with obvious enthusiasm. Born in 1973 Davids seemingly spent every waking minute of his youth either training or playing on the streets of Amsterdam, where he was raised. “We were just out there playing little games, 3 v 2, 3 v 3, four against four, that’s how you develop yourself because you have so many ball touches,” he recalls. “It is more about dribbling and showing off your skills than passing the ball. When you go to a team they try to encourage you to pass the ball all the time, but when that is the case, at the end of the day how many times did you have contact with the ball? “I always remember the fun. The thing is that when you don’t have resources you are creative. We didn’t have goals but we

had basketball posts so we’d change the rules to suit, like if you hit the post you scored a point. We made the games up to suit the situations we were in.” With the sedentary temptations open to today’s internet generation, however, Davids is keen to point out that children needn’t swap their computers for footballs, they can comfortably enjoy both. “You can do both but you have to get your exercise,” he says. “You don’t even need boots and kit for this though, you could just go in your jeans and sneakers and play one against one or practice your moves. Later on when you are at home you can go on the computer, but you have to have this exercise. It will also help create cohesiveness in your neighbourhood. By creating a team spirit, it is good for society. It is good to have people who can work together and create teams and be successful.” Davids joined the famed Ajax youth system when he was 12, going on to work his way up the ranks and make his first team debut in 1991, aged 18. He went on to help the club to three successive league titles in 1994, 1995 and 1996 as well as the UEFA Cup in 1992. Indeed, as the product of a successful youth set-up himself Davids is well placed to pass judgement on the success of Holland’s system of player development. “I think that tactical awareness combined with a good technique is its biggest asset,” he says. “In Holland it is very practical, I mean you go there and by 18 years-old most players have debuted in the first team and that’s always been the case. Sometimes if you are exceptional you come in at 16 or 17. “Also when you are young in the Netherlands, you play from side to side, not from goal to goal, and with small goals and small teams.” Talking further about growing up with Ajax and the coaches who have influenced him throughout his career – and having famously clashed with several of his national and club coaches in the past – Davids is in little doubt as to what

makes a successful youth system and who makes a successful coach. “When it [a youth system] delivers first team players on a regular basis, then you know it is working well. A good coach, meanwhile, is one who realises that he has to maximise the talents of all the players. You can’t force things upon a team, you can only give them tools to develop. Not every player is the same but you have to make them function as a whole team and also you have to know your players. You should know what team you have in front of you and what team of characters you have, then you will have the right manner of working with them.

“A bad coach is one who tries to push his tactics down the throat of his players whether or not they’re capable of doing it, or even if they don’t want to do it”

“A bad coach is one who tries to push his tactics down the throat of his players whether or not they’re capable of doing it, or even if they don’t want to do it. Then you have a problem. And, when you can’t get the maximum out of your players, that is a bad coach.” Introducing him to Total Youth Football’s KEEP IT SHUT! campaign, Davids is keen to find out more and a debate quickly ensues as to the influential role of both parents and professional players in children’s lives.

“Sometimes parents are just so into the game that they forget about where they are, they are in the moment and they are not thinking properly,” he says, now animatedly waving his hands to emphasise his points. “But at the end of the day the parents have to realise that it is just a game and the kids need to enjoy it. You have to teach the children to act in a certain manner as well, like gentlemen. I think that of course you can cheer on your child or your team in a certain positive way and accepted manner that is not disrespectful for your opponents.” As for the role of professional players, Davids – a father himself – admits that his colleagues should be aware of the effect their actions in front of the television cameras can have on youngsters, but he is also sure of where the ultimate culpability lies. “Players have a responsibility to a certain degree,” he says, “but first of all I think that the parents need to be responsible for the actions of their children. It is very easy to say; “yeah but this player or this person influenced my son or daughter in a negative way,” and that could be the

case, but if you have a good relationship with your children then you talk about this and you let them know that this is not the right way to act. That way the parent is the most positive and big influence on the children. “I think they [the players] do realise the impact that they have, but only to a certain degree. At the end of the day, if someone is diving or committing a foul then, as a parent and if you see this, you should address this and tell him or her that this is not appropriate behaviour. I think that by talking to them and explaining, the children will understand and I think understand the whole game and the whole concept a lot more.” Wise words indeed, made all the more powerful when spoken by someone whose abilities and iconic image have undoubtedly influenced a generation of aspiring footballers across the globe. Indeed, there are few more instantly recognisable sporting personalities in the world than Edgar Davids and, if he and his peers can’t encourage kids to play and parents to consider their own actions, then what hope have the stiff collared suits got?



players Legendary Liverpool and Wales striker, Ian Rush, is looking to propel the next generation of young Welsh players into the spotlight. We caught up with him at a football festival in Wrexham to find out more.

Words: Tim Beynon Photos: Paul Broadrick

n Anfield hero, a Welsh superstar and the most sought after Panini sticker in every school child’s collection, Ian Rush was idolised by millions during his 1980s heyday.


“Even over the last 10 or so years football has changed incredibly… It has become much more European in its style”

During his two spells at Liverpool Rush broke records like they were going out of fashion and, after ending his Reds career with 346 goals, five championship winners medals, three FA Cups, five League cups and one European Cup, his status as an all time favourite amongst the Kop was ensured for eternity.

grassroots level and continue this all the way up to the Victory Shield squad.” Just as in other parts of the United Kingdom, facilities and the opportunities to play football in Wales are the foundation stones upon which any form of long term success have to be built and, as Rush is keen to point out, everything is being done to ensure that the chances are there for young Welsh boys and girls to play.

For Wales, however, Rush’s career never quite reached the same peaks. Twenty eight goals in 73 games remains a record, but despite his goalscoring capability, the team failed to win qualification for a major tournament throughout Rush’s era. It is, he admits when we catch up with him at a football festival in Wrexham, something he will forever look back on with regret. “That was the biggest disappointment of my career to be honest,” he says ruefully as we discuss Wales’ absence from this summer’s European Championships. “But it gives me great pleasure now to help young players on their way. It is the next best thing to do. Of course we all still dream of Wales qualifying for a major tournament one day and I honestly believe that the future of the Wales national team is an extremely bright one.”

“I was offered the job and I jumped at the opportunity to give something back to Wales,” says Rush of his appointment to the Welsh FA Trust role last September. “We will basically be in charge of the young players coming through the system from the grassroots level right the way up to Under 16/17 level and the Victory Shield squad.

Ensuring that he gets around Wales as much as he can, attending events such as the McDonald’s Festival in Wrexham and experiencing grassroots football at first hand, Rush is confident that Welsh talent can be spotted from a young age and that evidence of the country’s increased focus on the youngest age groups is already clear to see.

Rush is speaking as an ambassador for McDonald’s football schemes and as the newly appointed Elite Performance Director of the Welsh FA Trust. Charged with bringing through the next generation of Welsh players, from the grassroots level to the Victory Shield squad and ultimately onwards and upwards to the top of the football pyramid, Rush is passionate about ensuring that the opportunities and facilities are in place for the successful development of young players and coaches from his home country.

“An important part of our work is to ensure that, when these young players reach 16 and they end up going to a League club, it is not a complete shock to the system for them in terms of what they’ve got to do. Of course you have got to be more professional off the pitch as well as on it when you do join a professional club, and that’s what we’ve got to instil in the players now, from a young age. In short we’re giving them a taster of what professional football is all about so that when they get there they are prepared.”

“I was manager of Wales Under-17s three years ago when we did really well,” he says. “The results we got with that team gave me the encouragement that what I was doing was right. Three of those players from my Under-17 team are now playing for the Wales senior team; Wayne Hennessey, Joe Ledley and Lewin Nyatanga. They are in the senior team at aged just 19 or 20 and that goes to show that what we were doing was right. What we have got to do now is to ensure that we get it right at the

“We all still dream of Wales qualifying for a major tournament one day and I honestly believe that the future of the Wales national team is an extremely bright one”

“The facilities are getting better all the time with McDonalds and the Welsh FA Trust trying to give the kids of Wales every opportunity to be successful,” he says pointedly. “We have got academies at League of Wales clubs now and that means kids won’t have to travel as far as perhaps they did in the old days to receive proper coaching. Sometimes kids are happier at home and in their local areas, and if we can do that then we will try everything we can to give them the best facilities to become better players.” Indeed, the whole issue of facilities is, believes the 46-year-old, more important in the modern era of football than ever before. “Even over the last 10 or so years football has changed incredibly,” he emphasises. “It has become much more European in its style. For example. when I was coaching the strikers at Liverpool under Gerrard Houllier, training and coaching the likes of Michael Owen you could see how professional they were and what level you have got to get to now in order to succeed at the top.

throat for players and managers alike, and ultimately tougher for young, upcoming players. “People today want instant success,” he says. “Sometimes players just don’t have time or aren’t given the time to develop. It’s natural for people and players to develop at different stages, we’re not all the same, and I think what you find now with youngsters is that they are scared of being a failure, which is totally wrong.

“I think what you find now with youngsters is that they are scared of being a failure, which is totally wrong” “I think that has changed so much over the last five to 10 years! Likewise, footballers are much more highly paid now and, I think, the dedication that they have got to put in is a lot tougher now too. That’s why we have got to give them all the very best facilities if we want them to succeed, the bar has been raised hugely. “When we used to train or play we used to play on muddy pitches, but you just don’t see that any more. Players today have the best facilities, the best balls and the best everything. So what we’ve got to try and do now, especially at the grassroots level and with the help of people like McDonald’s is to give them the right facilities and the right equipment from a young age. Importantly as well, I think if you do that then the kids seem to enjoy it even more and that’s when you get the most out of them.” However, just as the standards and expectations have been raised when it comes to equipment and facilities, Rush also believes that the culture of football has seen a fundamental shift in recent years, becoming more cut

“Young players today have got to realise that sometimes you’ve got to go down two steps to come up three. Today though I think you find that when people aren’t successful straight away they tend to think of themselves as failures. That’s when it’s the job of the coach to pick them up and instil confidence in them. It is all about confidence in football now, it is such a massive thing.” For those young Welsh players who do succeed, however, their dreams inevitably lie outside of Wales as they look to English clubs for their big breaks. The Welsh Premier League and the Welsh Football League are doing their best to support young Welsh players but the draw of the Football League and Premier League in England proves too much for them to compete with. For patriotic Rush though this is far from a negative. “If you find that English clubs come in for them I think that means that we have been doing our job, because ultimately the players have been attracting interest,” he says. “The League of Wales is always there as a guideline, and they are trying to improve it all the time, but eventually it is only natural for players to want to play in England, as is the case with players from all over the world. The Premier League is the best in the world. So I think that every young player’s dream would be to play for an English Premier League club, and if they do then it means they have improved, we have done our job and again the prospects for Wales are good.” A graduate of Chester City’s youth set-up himself, Rush was as prolific a goalscorer in his early years as he was in his prime. Citing his father and Chester City’s youth team coach, Cliff Sear, as two huge influences on his love of the game, both supported the young Rush and helped to enthuse him with a

confidence that would stay with him throughout his entire career. It is with some concern, therefore, that he shares his views on TYF’s KEEP IT SHUT! campaign and the role parents should play in their children’s sporting lives. Indeed, there’s no doubt as to where he stands on the subject. “Parents can help their kids by taking them along to the activity, but that’s where it should end,” he says bluntly. “What I have found, because my kids play local football as well and I have witnessed it first hand, is that pushy parents are trying to live out their own lives through their kids. They never made it as players themselves so what a lot of them do is shout at the kids and tell them what to do. All the kids want to do is enjoy the game. “When you have got parents saying one thing and the manager or coach saying another you are going to confuse the kids. When you do that then they are not going to play to the best of their ability. So I think it is a massive thing. Parents have just got to stay behind the line and not say anything. Those who do scream and shout are very misguided, the kids get nervous because of the shouting and it’s wrong. It’s up to the manager to give the kids confidence and mixed messages will just confuse them. “My Dad just let me get on with it, he took me there and stayed behind and I respected that. At the end of the day it is only a game, and of course people want to be competitive and win, but it is only a game. “When you are a kid you remember everything and the last thing you want is for them to look back on their football in later life as an experience they didn’t enjoy. You want kids to enjoy sport, boys and girls, and that’s why you should just let them go out there and develop and enjoy.” One of the greatest footballers to ever wear the red dragon of Wales on his chest, it’s clear that Ian Rush has his sights set on ensuring that the young players of his home country get the chance to do what he never did and perform on the planet’s biggest international stages. “We’ll get there,” he says in conclusion as we wrap up the interview and, after listening to his hopes for the future, you get the feeling that it will be somewhat sooner than later.

GOLDEN GAMES! What’s it like:

Fast and action packed. There are usually lots of goals in a handball game, so don’t be surpised if you see a few 20-17 scorelines at the Olympics this summer!

Who to support: There won’t be a British team competing in Beijing but there will be in London in 2012, so if you like the sport you could be there!

Get involved: There

are loads of handball teams based around the UK, as well as mini-handball festivals and events. So if you like the sound of it you can easily give it a go. Also, ask your teachers to help you if you’d like to try handball in a PE lesson.

What is it? Handball is a

seven-a-side team game played on an indoor court with six outfield players and a goalkeeper. Each game is made up of two half hour long periods. The aim: A bit like football, the aim is to pass and bounce the ball to your team-mates and

Find out more:


What is it? Softball is only played by women at Olympic level and is basically a bit like baseball and rounders. It is a nine-a-side

game and is played on a grass diamond. The batter attempts to hit the pitches (throws of the ball) and run around the diamond to the bases. The softball itself is larger than a baseball, the bat is smaller and the pitcher throws under arm. Sadly for softball fans though 2008 will be the last time it is played at the Olympics.

The aim: To score ‘runs’ by hitting the ball and running around the diamond without being caught out (when your ball is caught) or run out (when the base you are running to is tagged by a fielder with the ball before you get to it). What’s it like: If you like rounders you’ll love softball and although it is only played by women in the Olympics, it is played by boys and girls around the world. are the runaway favourites for Beijing 2008.

Find out more:


What is it? There are two

distinctly different types of volleyball; beach volleyball (which is unsurprisingly played on sand) and indoor volleyball (which is played on a hard court surface). Beach volleyball is usually a two-a-side game, whereas indoor volleyball is six-a-side. The game involves serving and hitting the ball by volleying, spiking or slamming it in to the opposition half.

The aim: To score points by

getting the ball to touch the ground in your opponent’s half of the court. Beach matches are normally played over three ‘sets’ of 25 points each, while indoor matches involve five sets.

What’s it like: Fast paced and

often spectacular. Beach volleyball obviously sees players diving around a lot more but indoor volleyball can be very fast paced.

Get involved: Volleyball is a

relatively easy sport to get involved in and your school should be able to help you find out more about facilities in your area if you really like the sport. As with most sports in the UK there are loads of teams, associations, tournaments and events going on all the time. There’s even a ‘Let’s Play Volleyball National Youth Volleyball Programme in England.

Find out more: and

HOW MANY CAN YOU NAME? Here are a few more Olympic sports, can you fill in the missing letters and guess what they are?

A____RY BAD______ __X__G C____ING __VING FEN____ H____Y J__O __IL__G


Get involved: There are softball

tournaments going on all the time so it’s easy to see some high quality action it you fancy experiencing the game as a spectator. However, it’s a simple game to play at school or with your friends too, so check out

the website, talk to your teachers or your parents and see if you can set up your own team!

T___E T____S

Who to support: Team USA



throw it in to the opposition goal. The winner is the team that scores the most goals.

WRE_____G Answers: Archery, Badminton, Boxing, Cycling, Diving, Fencing, Hockey, Judo, Sailing, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Wrestling

The Olympics aren’t all about the events that take place on the track and field, like the 100 metre sprint, the javelin or the pole vault, there are gold medals up for grabs in a whole host of other sports too. In fact, there are 28 sports outside of the track and field events for you to watch. So here’s the Footie guide to three of the Olympics’ lesser known ball games, all of which you can try for yourself as an alternative way to keep fit and have fun!


Interview by Tim Beynon

Pedal Power l sports cars and Ipswich Town star, Moritz Volz, has rejected the traditiona transportation luxury 4x4s of his footballing peers, opting for two wheeled more. instead. Rev caught up with the affable German to find out


aving spent much of the past eight years plying his trade in London – firstly for Arsenal and then more successfully with Fulham – Moritz Volz has built up a reputation as a committed, attacking defender with undeniable professionalism and Premier League pedigree. Off the pitch, however, he has also built up a reputation as one of football’s nice-guys, often playing on his German roots to amuse the media and entertain his growing army of fans. Indeed, a quick glance at his website – - is enough to glean an idea of the eccentricity

that has endeared him to so many. I mean, how many other professional footballers pay homage to David Hasselhoff on their personal website, a website that is accompanied by a bespoke version of the Sting classic – retitled ‘A German in West London’ – in which one of the lines refers to him cycling down the Fulham Road with a sausage in his hand? A renowned cyclist, however, Volzy has shunned the sports cars and Chelsea tractors of his contemporaries, opting instead for a fold-up bike to pedal his way around the streets of London and Ipswich. So, we just had to find out more… 02

REV: Moritz, you’re famous for your fold-up bike but, having come from the nation that brought us the sleek lines of the BMW, the efficiency of the Audi and the well loved eccentricity of the VW, how come you prefer two wheels over four? MV: I can’t stand queuing and being stuck and that hardly ever happens on a bike. I also see much more of places when I cycle away from the main roads. It’s only really when the weather changes suddenly and I get soaked that I wish I had taken the car! But, saying that, in summer it can be a rather pleasant experience too. REV: From a cyclist’s perspective, what annoys you most about drivers in the city? MV: Abuse when they think I’m holding them up and when they don’t leave enough room between them for me to manoeuvre through them at lights. REV: But do you own a car today? MV: I’m still waiting for a sponsorship deal, so I’ll keep this one open for the moment.

Anyone can feel free to fill this gap though! REV: Who are the best drivers, Germans or English? MV: Cars or bikes? In fact, I think Germans are better at both, as seen in Formula One and the Tour de France many times. REV: Do you sing when you’re driving? If so, what are your three favourite alltime driving tunes? MV: I love to go full out on a tune when I’m driving, after all there is not much else to do. As for my three favourites, I’d go for: Smile like you mean it - The Killers The garden - Van Tramp Our house - Madness REV: What’s the most bizarre form of transport you’ve ever taken? MV: A police riot van. REV: How did your driving test go? MV: I did well but failed my first on a reverse bend and passed the second time round although my driving was awful. I think it’s always a bit of luck ie. “who does your your examiner support?”

REV: What was your first car? MV: A silver Golf REV: If your car broke down would you: A – Call for assistance straight away and wait for a mechanic B – Lift the bonnet, locate the problem, fix it and drive on C – Lift the bonnet, stare at the engine, pretend you know what you’re looking

at, then phone for assistance and wait for a mechanic MV: Most definitely A as I have two left hands and no clue about mechanics even though I passed A-Level Maths on it. REV: You’re commuting at the moment from London to Ipswich. How’s that going? MV: I mostly use the rail, because I can relax and read and eat, but occasionally I do take the car for convenience. Both take about the same time and it’s just a bit too far to cycle! REV: Have you ever been in a road traffic accident? MV: Not with other cars involved, but I once spun around on a wet road and faced traffic. That was scary. REV: Away from football, and from the roads, are you environmentally friendly? If so, can you give us an example of eco-friendly Volzy? MV: I’m trying in some ways to do my bit, but I’m not nearly as good as I could be. It’s often hard to get out of bad habits. I use organic produce when possible, don’t

get disposable shopping bags and drink tap water at home, and a few other little bits. REV: Are you a good or a bad loser? MV: I don’t like losing at all, but I don’t lose the plot when I do and throw my toys out the pram. I guess I have had enough times to practise since I left Arsenal five years ago! REV: Tell us something we don’t know about you? MV: I’d like to have a dog sometime. REV: Favourite film, book, television programme and historical figure? MV: Meet the Parents is a film I like a lot, anything John Grisham will do for books right now. The Office was fun to watch and if you are talking figures, maybe Heidi Klum, if that’s what you mean! REV: And finally, if you could banish one person off the face of the earth, who would it be and why? MV: The devil, for obvious reasons, or any of the left wingers who have given me a torrid time over the years. Not many then!?!?

“I did well but failed my first on a reverse bend and passed ul” the second time round although my driving was awf 02

Words: Tim Beynon

My First


No. 1: Jonathan Greening FACT FILE Club: West Bromwich Albion, Captain Position: Midfield Date of Birth: 02/01/79 Place of Birth: Scarborough


veryone remembers their first car. For most of us our debut in the motoring world involved a clapped out banger, bought for pennies or handed down from family members. The odd dent or ding gave added character to it and, although other road users gave you a wide berth, it represented the freedom you’d been looking for. No parent or instructor in the passenger seat, total control of the stereo and an endless network of roads ahead of you. Like your first steps as a toddler, your first girlfriend or your first pay packet, your first car represents a defining moment in your life, and one worth remembering.

FACT FILE Club: Middlesbrough Position: Defender Date of Birth: 01/08/86 Place of Birth: Hartlepool

REV: So then Jonathan, what was your first car? JG: It was a red Ford Fiesta 1.1. REV: How old were you when you got your hands on it? JG: I was 19, mind you it took me four driving tests to pass! It was a three-door K-reg Fiesta and I had to pay really high insurance because I was a professional footballer. The car was worth about £750 and the insurance was about two grand! I can’t even remember where I got it from. I think my Dad found it for me. It was very old at the time and needed a new exhaust. It didn’t even have a petrol cap! I had to buy a green push-in one myself. I used to wonder whether it would get me back to Scarborough from Manchester every weekend! REV: What was its best feature? JG: The best feature was probably the radio. It didn’t have a CD player. It had a cassette player, but that didn’t work so I just made do with the radio.

Forget the Range Rovers, Bentleys and Ferraris, Rev asks some of our most popular football players – including two of West Brom’s biggest names – for the lowdown on their first cars.

No.3 Andrew Taylor

REV: Did anything unusual, funny, bizarre or otherwise memorable happen to you in the car? JG: I once went to pick up a Chinese takeaway after a game and drove into a lamp post. It was the most expensive Chinese I’ve ever had! The damage cost about £600 to fix. Also, I’m sure I’m the only player to win the Champions League final while driving a Ford Fiesta! REV: So what happened to the Fiesta in the end? JG: I sold it after getting my Champions League win bonus following our last-gasp win over Bayern Munich in Barcelona in 1999. I bought a Grand Cherokee Jeep with my bonus – my first proper car! REV: What do you drive today? JG: I’ve got a seven-seater Jeep Commander for me, the missus and my three kids.

No.2 Dean Kiely FACT FILE Club: West Bromwich Albion Position: Goalkeeper Date of Birth: 10/10/70 Place of Birth: Salford REV: What was your first car? DK: A three-door Fiesta Super Sport. REV: How old were you when you bought it? DK: I was 17. It was before the XR2 came out so it was a bit of a dream car back in the day. It was black with a big red stripe down the side and had huge alloy wheels. It also had a red-and-white check interior. It was beautiful. I really liked it. It wasn’t brand new. It was something like a W-reg and cost £1,695 from a local garage. REV: What attracted you to it and what was its best feature? DK: I really liked the look of it. It was a sporty model. At 17, having just passed my test, I was just trying to be a boy racer! REV: So did you ever crash it? DK: I once crashed it into the side of a house. It was a total accident but cost a lot of money to get it repaired!

REV: What was your first car? AT: It was a Renault Clio REV: How old were you? AT: I was 17-years old and I got it from my local garage for £8000 REV: What attracted you to it and what was its best feature? AT: It was sporty looking, a proper boys’ car REV: What happened to it in the end? AT: I wrote it off after only two months! REV: What do you drive today? AT: An Audi R8 and a Range Rover

No.4 Sam Ricketts

REV: So what happened to it in the end? DK: I had it for about 18 months before I swapped it for an XR3.

FACT FILE Club: Hull City Position: Defender Date of Birth: 11/10/81 Place of Birth: Aylesbury

REV: What do you drive today? DK: An Audi S5 and a Range Rover. I like them a bit more than my first car!

REV: What was your first car? SR: It was a Red Ford Fiesta REV: How old were you? SR: I was 17 years old, I remember it cost me £2000 and I bought it from my sister REV: What attracted you to it and what was its best feature? SR: Well it was my only option, it was simply that or nothing! REV: What happened to it in the end? SR: I just sold it on. REV: What do you drive today? SR: It’s a bit different, a BMW 6 Series.

Golden balls and rusty doors! Today David Beckham reportedly drives a Ferrari 575, Ferrari F430, Lamborghini Gallardo, two, yes, two Bentley Arnages, a Porsche 911 Turbo, Rolls-Royce Phantom and an Aston Martin V8. However, although his garage today resembles a Monte Carlo car park, it was once home to his first love, a humble Ford Escort. Wayne Rooney, meanwhile, may well be one of the most recognizable players in the world - putting his face to some of biggest selling products around – but when he turned 17 he only had eyes for his first car, a Ford SportKa. Pictured with it at the time, on the corner of the pitch at Goodison Park, the then Everton youngster said: “It’s just a huge relief to have passed my test and I’m looking forward to driving myself to training in my new car. All I have to worry about now is the season ahead, starting with a huge game against Arsenal this weekend!” Little did the England front man know at the time that the goal he would score in that match against Arsenal would take him to the top of the world game. Sadly, however, the Ka didn’t go with him!

While many of our wealthiest professional footballers drive around today in cars that average one mile to a gallon, most of them started out in wheels more familiar to us all. So, in the name of research, we asked a number of players to ‘fess up’ to their first cars and, being good sports, we got some interesting results. 02

GOINGDUTCH Interview: Tim Beynon Photos: Paul Broadrick With 89 minutes on the clock in the Real Madrid versus Barcelona La Liga grudge match the Catalan side are leading 1-0. The heated encounter has already seen three players stretchered off and, despite Real’s peppering of the Barca goal in the late stages of the game, it’s Ronaldinho who earns a free kick on the edge of the Madrid area. As the referee looks at his watch the Brazilian steps up to take the shot. A split second later Collins John is on his feet punching the air in triumph as his perfectly executed curling ball comes to a halt in the back of the net. Barca – controlled on the PS2 by the Fulham frontman – have won for the second time that day, leaving Real Madrid – controlled by a forlorn looking FulTime – wondering what on earth went wrong. Relaxing in his Thames-side apartment and sporting a cheeky grin that says ‘I’ve just scored an amazing goal’ for most of our interview, Collins appears relaxed, selfassured and in his element. Here is a man who has truly come from the humblest of roots to the top of his trade and who, despite experiencing harrowing tragedy along the way, has strode confidently along a footballing path that has taken him from Liberia to London. Having humiliated FulTime and demonstrated quite convincingly that he’s as well practiced at virtual football as he is at the real thing, Collins sits back with a cup of tea to reveal a little more about the life and times of Fulham’s number


NO.19 MARCH 06



You’ve finished training and you’ve just arrived back home, what’s the rest of the day got in store for you? It depends how I feel after training but if I am tired I will just relax, listen to music and play PlayStation. I love the PlayStation and could play Pro Evolution all day long, it is so much better than anything else, all the players’ faces and movements are just like the real thing. Ronaldinho’s free kicks are just like his real ones, even his teeth look the same! It’s magnificent. Who do you play as when you’re playing? I always play as Barcelona against Chelsea, they are one of the best teams to beat. John Terry is so good in the game, you just can’t go past him. I play Eto’o up front and Ronaldinho just behind him. I always have a smile on my face when I’m playing that game. But I love listening to music and reading books as well, I’ve just finished The Da Vinci Code! So what’s on your iPod then? I like everything – except rock and pop – so slow jam or R&B, maybe hip hop or a little bit harder rap. I love Genuine, Usher, 50 Cent sometimes. My favourite is Pharrell Williams though, I just love him.

Are they particular heroes of yours? I’m particularly close with Davids, he is a nice guy and he has helped me through things. Edwin as well, he is like a dad to me and I love him really. He is a fantastic man, a great pro and we speak often, I owe him a lot. He was a big factor in me coming here.

I’ve fought hard for it. Do you ever stop and think about how far you’ve come in such a relatively short space of time? Everything has happened very quickly for me and I thank Fulham for this really, and my former Club (FC Twente) because they were the ones who made me a professional player. Twente picked me from nowhere and took me to become part of a good club in Holland. Obviously my path through life has not been easy but you have to be strong and put your family first, it has not been easy for me and my family but you have to carry on and we have done.

Do you know your way around your kitchen? Do you count yourself lucky? Yeah, I’m quite good. I know I’m Dutch now but I am still African, I love rice and chicken. So I can cook and help myself, I never use the microwave really. When I was young my Mum used to work and I used to have to look after my two younger brothers, so I was cooking from a young age. Is there any one thing you own that means the most to you? My ring. This was given to my Mum by my Dad and she gave it to me so that I could always remember my Dad. So I never take it off, I tape it up when I play. No matter what happens it is always there.

I always thank God. I am a big believer in God and I believe in dreams coming true. I had dreamed of playing in the Premiership and no one thought it would happen but it did happen two years ago, my dream came true. Let’s go back to the very were born in 1985 in Zwandru, Liberia…what’s your earliest memory of life there?

My apartment. I love it and I’m very happy with where I live now and that’s important.

I remember we always walked the streets in nothing but pants when we were children because it was so warm. We were very poor, we had a broken house and we used to have eight of us sleeping in one bedroom. I remember we had a big, big dog and I was scared of the dog. It was my Auntie’s dog – she used to live in our house as well – but I don’t like animals at all really, especially pussy cats, I’m scared of them.

What about your wardrobe? I hear you’re partial to a bit of clothes shopping…

I must admit I’d heard a rumour about your cat phobia, it’s genuine then?

I play with Rob Milsom some times, but I always beat him! Not many others play though. Most of them are in to golf but I’m not in to that at all. It’s too boring!

I don’t mind shopping but that is not number one for me, my home is. You can get bored of clothes quite quickly and want to change them. When it comes to clothes though I just wear casual stuff really; nice trainers, jeans, t-shirts, jumpers.

Definitely. I can’t help it, they just scare me off. Big or small, whatever, I just hate them. It’s their eyes at night…scary!

So how do you rate the virtual Collins John on the PlayStation?

So who’s got the best and worst dress sense at the Club?

He’s not bad! I don’t think he really looks like me though. But I don’t ever play as myself anyway, I always put myself on the bench!

I bet you didn’t ask Norm that one!!! The best…I’d say Tony Warner, he’s not bad, he’s got good clothes. The worst…I’d have to say Mark Pembridge!

Oh yes, of playing with my friends, having my Mum, my Dad and my brothers around me. And then one day everything changed and we found ourselves running for our lives because the war started.

Would you say you’re a gadget man? Definitely. I love that kind of thing. TV is very important to me, I love my television. If I am going to play Pro Evo I have to have a perfect TV. I haven’t got a pull down projector though, Boa has got one of those, but I imagine playing PlayStation on one of those would be amazing. Do you ever play Pro Evo with any of the other lads at the Club?

Imagine this was MTV Cribs…what bits of your apartment would you show off? Obviously I love my family, they are very important to me. So I have quite a few


pictures of my family around my apartment to remind me of them when I miss them. I’ve also got my first Holland cap on display, number 18, against Sweden. I’ve also got a few shirts from players; Defoe – who is one of my best mates – I have his shirt, Davids, Kluivert and a few others.


NO.19 MARCH 06

What’s the most extravagant thing you own?

This is all a bit different from your roots in Liberia though isn’t it? Yes, but that’s life. Life carries on and

But, the big dog aside, you have happy memories of your childhood?

How exactly did the war change things? My Dad was a soldier in the war and he had been away for just two weeks when the war had started and we heard that he was not alive any more. We don’t know what

NO.19 MARCH 06



happened to him though, other than he got killed. Life had changed completely for us. Liberia has always been one of those countries where trouble comes and goes and it was like that back then, it was fine one day and then in 20 minutes we were running for our lives. I was seven years old and I can’t remember much but it’s hard to explain really. So what happened after you heard that your father had been killed… We couldn’t stay in the country, we had to leave. It was just the four of us - my Mum, me and my two brothers – and we had to leave our extended family behind. Because of the problems in the country you cannot really go back and that is what hurts, you cannot see your family again because you don’t know where they are. I’ve just got my Mum, my two brothers and my young sister now, that is it. That is why my family is so important to me. Did you feel that you had to grow up very quickly then? Absolutely. I know I look older than my years and I think I behave older as well. Everything has happened so quickly for me. My Mum told me that I had to grow up quickly and I had to look after my baby brother, I had to be like the father. In that situation you have no option but to grow up quickly. So in a way did the war and your father’s death strengthen the bond between you and your Mum? For sure. I think if something ever happened to my Mum I wouldn’t want to play football any more. We are very strong and we are quite similar as well, similar characters. Sometimes people think that I don’t want to talk to them but that is not the case, I am just quite an inward person and sometimes my mind is in a different world. She’s still in Holland with my sister and my brothers and while I’d love for her to come here it’s not really possible because my sister has just started school and my brother

loves playing for his club, my old club [FC Twente], and he wouldn’t want to come. I do miss them all a lot and I am lucky because the Manager here is understanding and he lets me go back as often as I want. So you fled Liberia by boat, how did that actually happen? When war broke out we got a bus to Sierra Leone, where we stayed for a week, because we just wanted to get out of the country. We had information that a few boats were going to different countries; Spain, Morocco, and so on. So we just jumped in to a boat and ended up in Rotterdam in Holland, we had no idea where it was going. That is why I always thank God, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and because of fate. What happened after the boat arrived in Holland? We were refugees and we ended up in a refugee centre to start with in the South of Holland, a place called Zeeland. We were there for one and a half years and then we got transferred. We only got status about eight years ago and three years after that we got our Dutch passports. So had you started playing football by this point? I started playing when I was about eight years old but to start with I didn’t really want to play football, but my Mum pushed me all the time and she wanted me to go with my friends, have fun and enjoy myself playing football. After one year I played in a local team and things went on from there. That was in East Holland and that is where I stayed, that’s my home and that’s where I’d like to buy a house one day.

I love to go home because I drive up there and all the memories come straight back. What about the language, did you pick it up quite quickly? Yes, very quickly. In maybe two years my Dutch was perfect. I think it helps to be young, my Mum needed five years to pick it up. What about school, what were you like at school? To be honest I don’t really remember, I was quite good though I think. I finished when I was 16 and that’s when I signed my first professional contract with FC Twente. How do you look back on your time at Twente, as a young scholar and then a young pro? They were great times. Normally in Holland you have to play in every team for two years. There are D, C, B, A, Reserves and then First Team and you are meant to spend two years in each on your way through. But now, because they are trying to fast track young players they spend less time in each team. I was always one year ahead when I was there and as I went through. When I was in ‘A’ I scored 20 goals and then went to the Reserves for a few weeks. It was in pre-season when the old coach got sacked and the new coach came in and took me and another new guy to Spain for pre-season, from there we went in to the First Team and never came out. And you made your First Team debut against PSV?

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Yes, it was an incredible game to make my debut in and I nearly scored a header as well, but it finished 0-0. I remember it was a good day and I was very excited to play against players like Mark van Bommel. I scored in my third game for Twente and that was a special day as well because I took my shirt off and I had a picture of my father on a t-shirt underneath. And eventually, in the January 2004 transfer window, the move to Fulham came about. It was rather late in the day as I remember it… I think it was on the 29th night that it happened and I remember I was quite nervous and actually forgot my passport when I came to catch a flight to London. I ended up having to go back for it and then catching a boat instead of the plane in order to get here in time. How do you feel you’ve settled as a footballer and as a person over the last two years? I miss home a little bit but I chose to play in England and I try to protect myself and just do the job that I am here for, to play in the Premiership. Do you think you have matured as a footballer in your time here? Yes, I’ve been very happy with this season. I have scored eight goals in the League (at the time of writing – Ed) and one in the Cup so far. At the start of the season I said to myself that it would be nice to score 15 goals in all competitions, so that means I have to score six more. So I’m happy with the way my goal scoring is going. I do set myself high targets, you can’t be happy with what you’ve got, you’ve always got to want more. Last season I wasn’t that happy with my goalscoring but, as I say, this season is going well so far and I hope I can get a few more goals. What have been the highs and lows of your Fulham career so far? Oh that’s a tough question. I would have to say that the low is the fact that we haven’t got a win away from home yet this season and the high has been the fact that we’ve won almost all our home games. So it’s as simple as that really. Your favourite goal?

I’d have to say the goal against Middlesbrough this season, even though it wasn’t as good as it could have been because we lost that game. But it was a good goal and I was happy with it, I just had one instinct in my head when Legwinski passed me the ball and that was to shoot at goal. Mind you I scored a good goal for Twente as well that I’ll always remember, against Feyenoord, I bent it in to the far corner from the edge of the area. Looking at the Fulham team as a whole, how do you think it has changed over the last couple of years? When I first came here we finished that season in ninth place and that was one of my best seasons at Fulham so far. But every player gets better every year and the team is moving forward. We have got some good young players like Moritz Volz and Liam Rosenior and players like Wayne Bridge, who I think is a great player. What about team spirit? That’s why I don’t really understand why we haven’t got an away win yet because we are a very strong team, we all get on with each other very well, we are better than last season in my eye and the spirit is perfect at the moment. It’s World Cup year of course, have you allowed yourself to think about the possibility of a trip to Germany in the summer? I don’t think I am in with much of a chance to be honest, but you never know. I would love to play, I love Holland and I would just love the chance to play for the manager. He was the one who gave me the chance in the first place and that made me so happy. To be honest I think my chance is very small but you always have to hope and you never know, I’d love to be one of the squad in Germany. So, 50 years in the future, when someone reads a Collins John Player Profile, what is it going to say? That’s a hard one. Hopefully positive things and that I had a good career and was a good goal scorer. I love goals, so hopefully it’ll say that I scored many goals. Finally, what will you give me if I beat you at Pro Evo?! You’ll never beat me!!! Fancy another game?!

NO.19 MARCH 06



With that, the dictaphone is turned off and the PlayStation is turned on. Ten minutes later Collins had been proved right and FulTime had lost for the third time in succession. It had been a bad day for Real Madrid but for Barcelona and their enigmatic overlord it had just been another day at the office. Anyone for Scrabble?!


NO.19 MARCH 06



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For Wales v Canada Tickets call: 02920 230 130


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e ch h coa y r eve . y om g fr iciousl n i n r r a a v e e a ,l hav with ition ch I ack to a pos orked o w ry c look b Steve y eve . I has red said. “ n 2003 ad i nd m s a m e ad th,” he game i n and h elt form ily give v a y d he ce. I f “I h ed wi th m y fam ch t alan n k y wi wor New Ze the coa f a cha houting app here m gby.” h I am field w rom ru hat n was much o even s g, but I t t e in o se e in e, tim ff the way f ays Han iven m he tim n train I was n o a rk d ise i t . g s life focus t a t a t h d a m o i n h a ul rig ew his eoric r aham me entf nity at e was attitud ed om t r s r e f e G r e h y m k or my bsc hat r cr fter a s coach a ike ort an o now t gh and have w was l a fa a to e I u w m It is when, en Wal kened l too sh er rt o h o a o c n n e k l li 2 os oa rah 200 r the th uld be ng for a yed und l ture very c me: G t me t back a m d o E i a e o a s oke ng. lped ve g und y, he c , dazzl has pl nation r r wro has he e, Ste not lo e on a r s e m m p Hen ting sta illiam at inte bad v l o h a t o c a i w s a Ih sc o W s so le t sho ment. coache t have m in hi unc ut and have al major s. We n a o o o f e elf We up a or u a m ber o does n y of th player mys 2003. icking huge f m s n e e p e a nu , and h bout a s up a ho ha c b d n w si ld a m l an ” am th wou ing it. leve to say y. It su im and lishing a te h b n d h do p a r o t f a o o s t o r m w s on e biog this apable side n hi c auto has no solely layer i are d p e o t wh focus e bes h n bee elf as t s him




For Wales v Canada Tickets call: 02920 230 130

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