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I'll be back, says Matt

Matt Jansen is aiming for the top again - but as a manager next time

By Mark*Shail* June 26, 2009

 

Former Crystal Palace and Blackburn striker Matt Jansen is taking his first steps towards becoming a manager after accepting a coaching position at non-league side Leigh Genesis.

 

Jansen decided to call time of his Football League career at the age of 31, and he will now take up a player-coach role alongside his former Blackburn teammate Gary Flitcroft.

 

Jansen, who moved to Ewood Park from Palace in 1999 for a fee of £4 million, was on the verge of a call-up to the England squad when he suffered a near fatal motorbike accident in Italy in 2002.

 

He has since made several attempts to resurrect his career at both Huddersfield and Wrexham, but he now concedes that if he ever manages to return to the Premier League it will be as a manager.

 

On his new position at Leigh Genesis, Jansen said: “I don’t know where it will take me, I want to go as high as I can. I’d love to manage in the Premier League but you have to be realistic.

 

“I started my career at Carlisle and perhaps a club like this is the next step for me. But as I said, it’s a long way in the future. I’ve got to start somewhere and that’s the way I’m looking. It’s better to be part of a football club when doing the badges – and we’ll see what comes next.

 

“I’m getting my foot on the ladder. I had the best time of my career at Blackburn, Gary and I both said that.”

 

Jansen added, “Gary asked me a while back if I would come to Leigh and help him out. He’s given me a player-coach role and for me that’s the next chapter in my life.

 

“I’ve wanted to get into coaching and there’s an opportunity here for me to keep playing as well. The set-up at Leigh is fantastic. I’m going to do all my coaching badges and I’ll be trying to play a few games as well.”

 

Jansen was given a chance to revive his career at Rovers by former boss Paul Ince earlier this season, but after a couple of months of training he was forced to admit defeat.

 

“They were brilliant with me at Blackburn. They offered a chance for me to go and play for them but it’s me that is the problem – I don’t believe in myself like I used to.

 

“It’s hard but I have to move on, but I want to stay in football. We’ll see how the coaching goes but I’m sure it will be fun. We’ll take each day as it comes and see where it takes me.

 

We wish Matt the best of luck on his first steps of the coaching ladder.

 

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Kevin Gallacher life story part 1: I never knew how lucky I was ... until surgeon told me the truth

6:00pm Friday 3rd July 2009

 

In the first part of our six-day series on former Rovers favourite Kevin Gallacher, the Scottish striker tells us how his football career almost came to an abrupt and shocking end after being told by surgeons that he may never play again following a terrible leg break against Arsenal back in 1995.

 

“I could feel the tears welling up inside me as I was told the truth by my surgeon for the first time. I had to take a long hard breath as I saw my career flash before my eyes.

 

“What I had always thought was just a run-of-the mill broken leg, should actually have finished my career. The words hit home as I looked back on what I was able to achieve in my 20 years as a player.

 

“We both shed a tear that day. Myself and my surgeon. Emotions were running high as we reflected on the enormity of what he had just told me. ”

 

This was the moment Kevin Gallacher finally realised how fortunate he was to have had a career that saw him involved in a Premier League winning squad, play in three major international tournaments for Scotland and enjoy a 20-year top-flight adventure.

 

From being a frail teenager at Dundee United unable to cope with the physical demands of senior football, to bucking the trend of Scottish footballers failing in England, the former Blackburn Rovers striker has always been one of the game’s fighters.

 

But when a retired Gallacher was told his broken leg against Arsenal, suffered some seven years earlier in 1995, could have brought it all to an abrupt end, his biggest ever career challenge was suddenly made clear.

 

The Premier League triumph, Euro 96, France 1998 – all memorable moments that, had his surgeons’s secret fears come true, would have seen Gallacher as just a spectator for some of the decade’s most famous football moments.

 

“I broke my leg in March 1995,” he said. “I lost a week of my life. I remember doing it but I can’t remember up to the following Saturday – I was that drugged up.

 

“I didn’t realise it at the time but it was bad, I should never have played football again really. At the time though, I never looked at the negative side of breaking my leg.

 

“The surgeon said ‘three months down the line you will be fine’. Three months later I was no further forward. Little did I know that he was doing a little bit of psychology because he knew how bad it was.

 

“He knew there was a higher chance of not getting back to football than there was. He told me that when I finished. Unfortunately later in football Robbie Savage did the same injury and he saw his career go down the pan with it.”

 

The former Dundee United and Coventry man had joined Blackburn Rovers a year earlier and his goals helped the Premier League new boys to fourth place in their debut campaign.

 

They carried on their success the following campaign, as Jack Walker and Kenny Dalglish’s revolution continued to take shape, before Gallacher’s career was halted in its tracks on that fateful February afternoon at Highbury.

 

He said: “We were not resting on our laurels, were buying players and were trying to get Alan Shearer back. Everyone wanted to beat us in that second season because of what we had done the year before. I thought a lot of teams wanted us to fall flat on ur faces because we had money to spend.

 

“I did it at Highbury, it was freak. A long throw, Alan has dragged Tony Adams under the ball, I was six yards out, looked to half volley it but Steve Bould has put his knee up and my leg has gone across his knee like a twig.

 

“I had about 2,000 letters from people, fans, managers and clubs. But one from an Arsenal fan saying he heard the break. That touched base to me because at the time I thought it could have been a shin pad.

 

“You look at the leg now and you wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with it because of the top drawer surgery. I was able to take my time and get it right.”

 

Unaware of the seriousness of the break and the damage it could have inflicted on his career, Gallacher put everything into his rehabilitation as he strived to play a part in Rovers’ ultimately successful title challenge the following season.

 

Finally, after eight and a half months on the sidelines, he was able to help their drive towards the Premier League until his comeback was again halted as he suffered another break to the same leg just a few games later.

 

He said: “The bummer was I broke my leg again in April. From that point on you think I am on a downer. But it wasn’t. It gave me another challenge in life, a challenge to get back and prove myself.

 

“It was a nervous time, as I was recovering from the first broken leg at the club, the last 10 games. I was really up for it and scored an important goal against Crystal Palace.

 

“Then in that game I have done a Ronaldo style step over, and John Humphrey has done me late. He caught me on the exact spot. I knew I couldn’t break it – well that was what I thought. I was very confident with a pin in my leg I couldn’t break it.

 

“Stamping on it was okay but every time I went to walk on it it kept buckling. I went straight back to hospital, got an MRI scan and there was a hairline fracture.

 

“Later on my surgeon John Hodgkinson said it was the best thing that ever happened because it totally healed the bone inside. When I was ready the next season my leg was ready.”

 

Having already defied the odds to build himself a Premier League reputation, Gallacher was not about to let his double break stop him in his tracks as he watched Rovers crowned champions in the dug-out.

 

He was soon back on the field though to earn more international honours, score more top flight goals and establish himself as firm fans favourite at Newcastle in his latter years – some six years after it could all have ended.

 

“When you think about it, it is a little scary,” he said. “I had some great moments after breaking my leg and to think I almost didn’t get a chance to do that makes you think.

 

“I guess the thing is I have always been up for the fight, I suppose that is why the fans at the clubs I have played for seemed to take to me.

 

“I fought to make sure my size didn’t go against me at the start of it all, I fought to make sure I wasn’t just another Scottish flop in England and I fought to establish myself as a Scottish international.

 

“This was just another fight but I didn’t realise how big at the time.

 

“When it was happening it was just battling back from injury but now, listening to the surgeon, it was far more than that. I’m just thankful that wasn’t it for me.”

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Kevin Gallacher life story part 2: Growing up was tough as grandson of late great Patsy

6:00pm Friday 3rd July 2009

 

IT was supposed to be just a matter of time. The new Scottish wonder kid following in the footsteps of his Celtic legend grandfather – Kevin Gallacher’s career had already been mapped out.

 

The diminutive teenager had different ideas though as he looked to carve out a name for himself in his own right, a determination that left Celtic’s 10-year chase ultimately futile as he opted instead for less glamorous clubs like Dundee United, Coventry City and then Blackburn Rovers.

 

Growing up in Clydebank as the youngest of six siblings, Gallacher’s family life was centred around football, namely Celtic, after his late grandfather Patsy left a lasting legacy during his 15-year career with the Scottish giants between 1915 and 1926.

 

A roll of honour that includes seven league titles, four Scottish Cups and four Glasgow Cups sees Patsy still regarded as one of the all-time greats at the proud Parkhead club.

 

So when a young Kevin was attracting a host of scouts while playing for junior club Duntocher in the late 1970s, Celtic were leading the chase and his next move seemed almost inevitable.

 

Not so. As, with his grandad’s words of wisdom still ringing in his ears, Gallacher junior turned his back on his boyhood heroes and followed his head to sign schoolboy forms with Dundee United aged just 13.

 

The chase didn’t stop there though as Celtic continued to monitor the then midfielder but, at 16, Gallacher signed professional forms with Dundee United to signal the start of a remarkable career.

 

Celtic continued to make themselves known to Gallacher throughout his 20s but, as he started a new life in England, he was not about to turn back.

 

He said: “I have heard so many stories about my granddad that you feel he has always been there. I have grown up without grandparents, but with the legacy he had, I have found it tough because I wasn’t Kevin Gallacher as a kid.

 

“My dad was the son of Patsy and when I started into football I was the grandson of the legend that was Patsy. In Scotland I never made a name for myself, until I came down to England to play. It was only then I made my own title.

 

“My grandpa made a statement to the boys in the family and it was if you want to make a name for yourself don’t ever play for Celtic. Because you won’t be yourself, you will be regarded as how I play.

 

“In hindsight, I would have loved to play for Celtic – and I could have done up until 25, 26 years of age. But I had so many other challenges ahead of me, I found these challenges were better than to go back to Scotland to play for Celtic.

 

“I wanted to do it for myself and every headline I made at Dundee United I was not Kevin Gallacher. It was a bit annoying really but that is what you are seen as. In one way I was glad to come out of Scotland and make my own name.”

 

It wasn’t all plain sailing in his early years though as he fought against his size, homesickness and his family name during a two year apprenticeship at Tannadice that threatened to end the dream almost before it had begun.

 

But, just as the doubts started to creep in, he was given his debut as a 20-minute substitute in Europe before making his full debut in front of 50,000 at Ibrox just three days later. A star was born.

 

“It was very slow progression,” he said. “I was very small and frail. I was just over nine stone and about 5ft 4ins. I was a very slow maturer. I had a few doubts but they just made more determined. Being little just gave me a bigger fight to fight.

 

“There was a player at 16 playing in the first team, Gordon McLeod. He had matured physically. You are sitting in the digs with him and that gave you the inspiration because you knew you would get your chance in the first team.

 

“Those two years as an apprentice were boring for me. I was still like a 12-year-old kid in a 16-year-old mind. I never got a chance, was always jobs" target="_blank">training with the reserves.

 

“It was also very hard moving away from Clydebank. We were all in separate digs and unfortunately for me the digs were freezing. We were sleeping in tracksuits and I wasn’t happy.

 

“I was visiting my uncle, who was a local journalist, once a week and I didn’t realise he was telling the manager everything I was saying. It helped me in a way because it got me out of the digs.

 

“ I went to stay with my Uncle and paid him dig money. I was under pressure because I had family looking after me. I couldn’t muck around as much as the others. But with the family looking after me it gave me a massive focus and massive help.”

 

Gallacher signed professional terms with the Tannadice outfit the summer of 1983, after they had won the Scottish Premier League and, in his eight years with them, he experienced the highs and lows of top flight football.

 

A UEFA Cup final and two Scottish Cup finals, as well as challenging for the league title every season, gave him the perfect platform to hone his skills as he learnt from a host of Scotland’s greatest players.

 

He said: “The team I was brought up on was phenomenal. Ralph Milne was the player I replaced. To be fair I was more or less resigned to backing him up for the whole of my career because he was a phenomenal player.

 

“They were a successful team, and Ralph was only four years older than me. Ralph had gone on the alcohol though and it opened the gap up for me, he went off the rails and that was my opportunity., “I stayed on the straight and narrow and focused on that side of it. I never looked back until the season I was leaving.

 

“Malpas, Stark, Hegarty, Nairy, Milne, Sturrock, Dodds, Ferguson- there were so many top quality players.”

 

Still a youngster trying to make a name for himself, one of Gallacher’s earliest career highlights was scoring a goal that helped his Dundee side see off Barcelona on their way to the UEFA Cup final in 1987.

 

It was quickly down to earth with a bump for him though as he was dropped for the cup final defeat against IFK Goteburg, having also been left out of the side for their shock Scottish Cup final defeat to St Mirren that same season.

 

He said: “The mainstay was the Barcelona games. You started thinking about things because it was Barcelona and they are a massive name all over the world. To draw them was phenomenal because Terry Venables was the manager and they had Mark Hughes and Gary Lineker.

 

“Fortunately for me I scored in the first leg to send us to the Nou Camp 1-0 up. Even to this day there is a massive thing made about it about whether I meant it or not. I’m not sure if I did.

 

“The St Mirren game hurt me though. I had the belief I was ready for the cup final and when the manager sat me down and said he was going for experience, I didn’t want the team to win. It was horrible.

 

“It was the biggest downer I had at Dundee United. There was still plenty to play for but at that time you are such a selfish player, at that time I thought I can’t have this. When I was brought on I was probably trying too hard because I wanted to rub it into the manager’s face he had made the wrong decision.”

 

He finally got his chance on the big stage the following year though when they reached the Scottish Cup final again, this time to meet boyhood club Celtic.

 

A sensational opener from him even looked to have set up one of Scottish football’s biggest upsets until Frank McAvennie’s double restored parity for Celtic - and more cup final disappointment for Gallacher.

 

“It was dream come true for me,” he said. “It was against my boyhood heroes and all my friends were in the Celtic end. I was talking to them the night before the game and I was quietly confident we could beat Celtic.

 

“To score that day was phenomenal and it was an unbelievable goal. I have taken it with my left foot, was racing Roy Aitken at the time, and I have just let fly from 25 yards into the top left hand corner.

 

“I ran to the corner where my mates told me they would be to celebrate. I think it was the wrong thing and to say you would probably have the FAs on your case for enticing the away crowd now is an understatement.

 

“I knew what I was doing. I was celebrating for Dundee United but I was going over to wind my mates up.

 

“As Frank McAvennie says though ‘Kevin Gallacher scored the best goal ever in a cup final but he scored two to spoil the party’.”

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Kevin Gallacher life story part 3: Kenny told me to shut my eyes during a drive through Blackburn

6:00pm Friday 3rd July 2009

 

AFTER being told to ‘close his eyes’ when driving through Blackburn, you couldn’t have blamed Kevin Gallacher for instantly pulling out of a surprise move to an unglamorous Rovers.

 

When then Rovers boss Kenny Dalglish advised the Scottish striker to ‘ignore the Blackburn scenery’ on his way to talks in Southport in March 1993, Gallacher could easily have opted for one of the other ‘safer options’ still jostling for his signature.

 

Just a few minutes into listening to Dalglish and Jack Walker’s dream though and he was converted into another Ewood Park ‘disciple’ - although he admits their ‘five-year Premier League plan’ had every chance of being just ‘pie-in-the-sky’.

 

As it was, Gallacher and the rest of Dalglish’s expensive squad completed a fairytale story when they were crowned champions in 1995 and, despite just playing one game in that season, he knows his transfer from Coventry was a life-changing moment.

 

He said: “I remember Kenny said ‘when you are driving into Blackburn shut your eyes.

 

"It is no disrespect to Blackburn but see beyond it. This place is changing.’ How right he was, how right Jack was.

 

“It was Kenny Dalglish who sold the club to me. When I sat down after I signed I started having regrets because they were such an unknown quantity.

 

"I thought I could be joining a side going downhill soon.

 

“But obviously Jack had a dream and he explained that to me. I wanted to be part of that and had no second thoughts.

 

“I signed with Graeme Le Saux on the Tuesday night. It was the start of something incredible.

 

“There were plenty of sides who wanted me at the time. Sides with more a reputation than Rovers.

 

"But Dalglish and Walker were so persuasive and inspirational. It was certainly the right decision.”

 

Manchester City and Celtic were just two of a host of clubs chasing Gallacher’s signature from Coventry at the time as he looked to further enhance his growing reputation.

 

Maine Road was looking the likely next destination, with the Sky Blues seemingly treading water, but all that changed when his footballing idol made a surprise phone call.

 

A £1.5million deal, plus Roy Wegerle, was quickly agreed and when Gallacher scored on his debut, a 4-1 win against Liverpool, a new Ewood Park legend was born.

 

“I didn’t know where Blackburn was,” he said. We played them in the league a few weeks before and they beat us 2-1. I met Kenny that day, the first time I had spoke to him, and I was standing there with my jaw wide open. I never believed later in the season I would be joining him.

 

“But I had been told by Coventry I had to be sold. I had nine clubs in for me and Blackburn were not one of them. I was tapped up by Manchester City, a local journalist in Manchester gave me a call and said would you come to Manchester City? I said yes definitely.

 

“Then one day Bobby Gould said I needed his phone and on the other end was Dalglish. That was it. I spoke to my wife, said we needed to go up that night to speak to Kenny. We were so busy trying to sort out a babysitter for the dog so we could go to Southport to meet them.

 

“We sorted a deal and Kenny sold me the club and told me the future. But the reality was all hidden, it wasn’t there, I just had to believe what he said. To achieve what he wanted two years early was just out of this world.

 

“I know people said I came to Blackburn for 1.5m, having bought Shearer for over 3m, which worked well in my favour. But the reality was Roy Wegerle went to Coventry for £1m so really I went for £2.5m.

 

Gallacher had only arrived in England three years previous when he risked the wrath of his countrymen by turning his back on the Scottish Premier League and swapping Dundee United for Coventry City in a £1.1m transfer.

 

Eyebrows were also raised at his choice of club, with many regarding a move to the Midlands as more a sideways career step, with Coventry’s 1987 FA Cup triumph becoming a distant memory.

 

But, for Gallacher, it was all part of a grand plan as he was driven on by the desire to show Scottish footballers could make the grade in the English top division.

 

He said: “People asked me why have I not gone to Celtic. Everyone thought it would be celtic and it could have been. But Jim McLean would not sell me to Celtic. He said I had to go abroad.

 

“A lot of people thought I would be back at Celtic a year later. In England no one knew me and it was horrible. But I thought I am going to make a name for myself here.

 

“That was the carrot to push me on in England. All the way through to 1996 Celtic were wanting me but I had to keep it under wraps because let’s just say me being approached by third parties would not have gone down well.

 

“I had a challenge in England and I was fortunate I was part of a squad that won a league in England. There aren’t many players who can say that in my era or who have done so well from Scotland and stuck in the English league.”

 

Gallacher’s move south of the border set up a 12-year English career that spanned more than 300 appearances and saw him score approaching 100 goals.

 

He became renowned for his industrious style and was a firm fans favourite at Coventry, Blackburn and Newcastle, before finally announcing his retirement in 2002 - after a brief flurry in the lower leagues.

 

He said: “Going to England was massive. You are moving country and coming down with a Scottish tongue I had to slow my speech down. It was like going for sign language so people could understand me.

 

“I had got married six months before to Aileen and six months later we moved. We came down, house hunted and it was hard because we had no family there.

 

“Coventry were not as big but it was the challenge of moving to England. In Scotland you were playing teams four times, then in the cup – you could be playing teams eight times and you got to know each other.

 

“It became boring. I wanted a new challenge. On one hand, I wish I had done due diligence and waited for a bigger club to give me my chance- although I did love the club. For me it was a stepping stone in English football.

 

“Once I was in English football, I just never wanted to leave it. The Premier League was like this exciting carnival and it gave me memories that will last forever.”

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Kevin Gallacher life story part 4: We should have built on Premier win

6:00pm Friday 3rd July 2009

 

AS Tim Sherwood stepped forward to lift the Premier League trophy in front of Blackburn Rovers’ delirious travelling army, you got the sense life at Ewood Park was never going to be the same again.

 

The dramatic events on that sunny May afternoon at Anfield back in 1995 should have been the start of ‘something great’ for English football’s new upstarts, with a squad brimming with talent and enough funds to threaten the game’s established order of power.

 

Less than five years later though, Rovers, and many of the squad who had lifted the trophy were facing up to life in the Championship after a dramatic fall from grace ended in relegation from the top flight.

 

As he reflects on the rollercoaster Premier League adventure at Rovers during the 1990s, before joining Newcastle United in 1999, Kevin Gallacher admits mistakes were made and dates their downturn in fortunes to even just a few hours after the club’s ‘greatest ever moment’.

 

He said: “That week was the happiest week of my life. Colin Hendry was ringing me at 7am saying ‘I have just corked open another bottle of champagne’. I was like ‘Colin, I only left you an hour ago’.

 

“For a week we just partied until we had the do at Ewood and had another big party. You were going on alcohol. We never had an open top bus though, which the lads were disappointed about. We had to do everything within the ground.

 

“We couldn’t go and see the mayor at the town hall because the balcony was deemed unsafe. In a lot of our eyes we never celebrated it properly. I think that is why we were still celebrating it in our heads the following season when we struggled.

 

“That was almost the start of the end. That summer, we were linked with very good players the likes of Zidane and Dugarry. But we didn’t want to do it and that was when we started going over the peak of the mountain and coming back down again.

 

“There was a change to the club, a change in camaraderie. At the time it was not for the good. We should have been on a plateau but it was changing even then.”

 

Having only been promoted to the new Premier League through the play-offs in 1992, few could have envisaged Rovers being crowned champions of England just three years later.

 

But, with Walker’s money and Dalglish’s leadership, Alan Shearer and co completed one of football’s most unlikely stories when they pipped Manchester United to the title in 1995.

 

“I don’t think what we did will ever be done again,” said Gallacher. “You have to be billionaires now, millionaire people like Jack are not enough. In today’s game, look at people like Kaka going for £50m. It is ridiculous, but that was Kenny and Jack’s fault because they bought Chris Sutton for £5m.

 

“People were telling me that he had to be really coaxed into buying Blackburn but, by God, when he decided to he put his heart and soul into it. If he could have kept it going for five or six years and had won another couple of titles he would have become one of the game’s all-time greats.

 

“Unfortunately we could not keep it going at Blackburn. A big catalogue of things went wrong but Kenny Dalglish moving upstairs was the real catalyst. Him and Ray Harford were the Morecambe and Wise of football.

 

“It didn’t work when Kenny became director of football to let Ray take over. He eventually started to bring his own men in but he didn’t do it early enough because he felt we all deserved our chance. You can’t stand still in football.”

 

With Dalglish already a distant memory, Walker died in 2000 of lung cancer to bring about the end of what Gallacher describes as Rovers’ golden era.

 

“The pair were true club legends“, he said. “That is why we had success, we had so many great players. We were all pieces of the jigsaw. People say Kenny spent big and spoilt it by spending £5m on Sutton and £3.3m for Shearer but Kenny was buying bits of a jigsaw “Other clubs didn’t fancy paying it but Kenny did, he put a jigsaw together and it came together two years earlier than he wanted it to.

 

“Jack put his money where his mouth was. Kenny did his due diligence on every player he bought and made sure they were right for Blackburn Rovers football club.

 

“Once Jack passed away in 2000, Blackburn Rovers big time became a town team. Although he left a trust fund that was there to keep the club going with wages but you can’t spend £5m or £10m on players anymore.”

 

After Ray Harford’s doomed attempt at taking over Dalglish’s mantle, Roy Hodgson arrived at Ewood Park in the summer of 1997 and immediately set about modernising the East Lancashire outfit.

 

It paid instant dividends as well, as Gallacher and Sutton formed a prolific attack to help Rovers back into Europe but a poor start to the following season saw them in the relegation zone, bringing an end to Hodgson’s regime and ultimately Gallacher’s.

 

Brian Kidd’s succession could not save Rovers from relegation to the championship at the end of that season and, soon after, Gallacher moved on to Bobby Robson’s Newcastle.

 

Gallacher said: “Roy’s first season was totally different. He changed everything around at the club. We were coached brilliantly and were trained and coached as Italians.

 

“The first season was very intense, no smiles on the faces, but the coaching was fantastic. Everyone knew what everyone was doing. It was run really well but the players wanted to be doing it with smiles on their faces and we never got that.

 

“In the second season though under him we were trying to play half fit, kept breaking down. Unfortunately Roy got the sack and Brian Kidd came in.

 

“The relegation was horrible. When you let the club and the fans down it was terrible. We couldn’t get fit. I had a personal battle as well because I had gone from being first choice to fifth choice striker under Kidd.

 

“I never saw eye to eye with the manager. I had spoke to Kidd a few days before I left for Newcastle and he said he had spoke to Jack Walker and they would give me a new contract because he knew we were happy here.

 

“I was happy to stay and get them out of the Championship but three days later he sold me to Newcastle. He told me lies, but at that time Newcastle and Bobby Robson – it didn’t look such a bad move.”

 

While his seven-year love affair at Ewood Park might have ended in bitterness, Gallacher isn’t about to let that ruin what went before it.

 

He may only have started one Premier League game in that title-winning season, as he recovered from a broken leg, but the Anfield memories will live with him forever.

 

“I was at Anfield and it was phenomenal,” he said. “I had a walking pot on at the time. It was like a massive shin pad and a mobile ankle brace.

 

“The thing that always hit me was them shouting across the Man United game had finished and we still had 30 seconds left to play and we started to celebrate. I looked up and Colin Hendry was cuddling Tim Flowers and the game was still being played.

 

“It was back down like a bang. The club, being such a family orientated club, were scared.

 

"If we got beat we have lost the league – they were so nervous they hadn’t organised anything.

 

“Fortunately for us Howard Walker had organised a do at a local bistro in Preston.

 

"All the guys ended up back there and that night if health and safety had been there the place would have been shut down.

 

“You had players, the wives and friends all upstairs dancing on the tables to the Drifters.

 

"People couldn’t believe Blackburn Rovers had done it.”

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Ei tokikaan ex-pelaaja mutta ex-valmentaja.. jotta Paul Ince sitten tekas paluunsa takaisin vmanageriksi jälkeen Roversin potkujen, ja samaiseen MK Donsiin mistä hetkellisesti tulikin...

 

 

July 7, 2009

Paul Ince feels short-changed by Blackburn

Tom Dart

 

Paul Ince has accused the board of Blackburn Rovers of not offering him enough support or money for transfers during his brief period in charge.

 

Ince was sacked by Blackburn last December after only 17 Barclays Premier League games and he rejoined Milton Keynes Dons last week for a second spell as manager.

 

When Ince took charge of Blackburn last summer he had just led MK Dons to promotion from Coca-Cola League Two in his first year at the club and was seen as a rising star, but Blackburn won only three league matches during his tenure. The 41-year-old believes he was given too little time and said that he was shocked by the lack of available funds despite the sale of David Bentley to Tottenham Hotspur for about £15 million.

 

“For some reason we didn’t have the finances,” Ince said yesterday. “There are a lot of reasons why it didn’t go well, but I don’t think I was to blame for that. My reputation as a manager shouldn’t be tarnished because I wasn’t given the tools. I thought that the board should have backed me a bit more.

 

At least give me till after Christmas. It was harsh, it was a bit unfair, but I’ve got broad shoulders. It’s all about players and finance and if you haven’t got that it’s hard to do your job.”

 

He was sacked after a sixth successive defeat left Blackburn one place off the bottom of the table. “I’m learning the trade,” he said. “It hasn’t dented my belief that I can manage in the Premier League. I’ve had a great experience, I want to be back there and hopefully I can do it with Milton Keynes.”

 

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/football_league/article6653483.ece

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Blackburn Rovers Ex-File: Ashley Ward

10th January 2010

 

ASHLEY Ward always dreamed of working with Premier League stars like Wayne Rooney and Wes Brown once he was forced to hang up his boots – he could never have imagined how that was to become a reality.

 

The former Blackburn Rovers striker made almost 400 league appearances in a career that spanned 16 years and 11 different clubs and just expected football to remain an integral part of his life after retirement. How wrong could he be?

 

Ward is now running Cheshire based Bilton Ward Development with his wife Dawn, specialising in building luxury homes for the rich and famous – a portfolio that includes mansions built for Manchester United stars Rooney and Brown and ex-Everton striker Kevin Campbell.

 

While two of his former clubs, Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers, go head-to-head at Eastlands on Monday evening, Ward still does his best to keep track of his former passion - but admits other commitments force it into being nothing more than a passing interest.

 

“I always thought I would follow the usual path into coaching or management,” he said. “It never really crossed my mind that I would do anything else to be honest.

 

“I was always interested in property though when I was playing and that grew during my career. I got busier and busier and I just got to the stage where I didn’t have any time to do my coaching badges and this became a full time job.

 

“Looking back it is a shame in one way, because there is nothing better than being involved in football. But I can’t really complain, can I? I enjoy what we are doing and things look good for the future.

 

“Obviously times have been hard due to the recession, but we are busy at the moment. You could put a good team together of players we have worked for, I think they would have a good crack at the World Cup.

 

“I can’t really get to watch any games now either because daughters are heavily involved in show jumping now and we travel the country with them every weekend. That has become the weekend activity.”

 

Ward, who started his career at Manchester City, joined Blackburn Rovers from Barnsley for £4.5million in December 1998, having previously played for Wrexham, Leicester, Blackpool, Crewe and Norwich City.

 

The Brian Kidd signing was unable to keep Rovers in the Premier League though, as they suffered relegation into the Championship just five months later and was then sold on to Bradford for £1.5million in August 2000, with just 14 goals to his name.

 

After three seasons at Bradford, injuries finally saw him end his career at Sheffield United in 2005, as he quit the sport for good in favour of the property game.

 

The 39-year-old though insists he will never forget his footballing memories and would not swap his time for anything, despite being relegated from the Premiership four times, a number only beaten by Nathan Blake and Nigel Quashie who have been relegated five times.

 

He said: “It is the worst feeling in football. Fans are always unbelievably disappointed to see their team relegated but that disappointment is felt ten-fold- even more – by the players.

 

“If you lose a cup final, you just look forward to the next game but getting relegated makes you worry about your career. Every season you have outside the top flight is another season closer to retirement.

 

“Fans have 80 years to see their team achieve the best. Players careers last 10 years in their prime at the most and relegation brings a feeling of seeing your career ebbing away.

 

“I’m sure Blackburn will be okay this season though. I still know a few of the players there, people like David Dunn, and I know they are a well-run club who work within a budget. Other teams could follow their example.”

 

Ward was brought up a Manchester City fan and admits he is delighted at the club’s recent revival – but admits the massive investment coming into football makes it a different world from when he was around.

 

He said: “I was lucky that I was around for the Sky years but the game has grown massively even since then. You do wonder when it is going to stop.

 

“I don’t think anyone can argue Manchester City fans don’t deserve their moment in the sun though. They have been long suffering and finally look as though they have got something to cheer.

 

“Man City are clearly the richest club around and that probably means a lot of success is just around the corner.”

 

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What Became of Ex-Rover Starlets?

By kirky1020 | March 9th, 2010

 

Sergio Peter

 

A talented left midfielder who showed endless promise at Rovers; during his debut match back in 2006 in the FA cup against QPR he was named man of the match after setting up all three goals. But things soon turned sour for Peter as injuries plagued his time at Ewood before he moved on to Sparta Prague last January.

 

Peter has failed at Sparta making just two appearances before being released in the summer of 2009 due to unprofessionality and is currently unemployed.

 

 

Kevin Pezzoni

 

A lesser known player, a tough tackling defensive midfielder or classic centre back. He spent five years at Rovers’ academy before moving on in 2008 to FC Koln.

 

Now at 20, he has established himself as a permanent fixture in the first team at FC Koln and has 50 plus appearances to his name in the Bundesliga. He is also gaining recognition on the international stage as he recently earned a call-up to the German U-21 Squad.

 

 

Matt Derbyshire

 

You will all know about Derbs, he became an instant fan’s favourite at Ewood Park, scoring some crucial goals and looked a real prospect — though it may surprise some that he only managed to accrue 10 goals in 63 appearances. He spent time on loan at Plymouth, Wrexham and Olympiakos before making the latter deal permanent last Summer for £3mil.

 

He has struggled with injuries in Greece this season and has had a stop-start season, but has recently been finding his feet again. He has scored twice in three games since his return from injury and looks a shoe-in for tonight’s Champions League game against Bordeaux.

 

 

Paul Gallagher

 

A striker turned winger. Until last summer, Gallagher had been at the club since 2002 and had replaced Tugay (upon his retirement) as the longest standing player of the current Rovers Squad. He is a gifted and tricky player who showed bags of potential at Rovers, but due to a lack of pace and a hot-headed attitude, the player was proving and endless “if-only”. Gallagher enjoyed successive loan spells all over England including Stoke, Preston and Plymouth before signing for Leicester for roughly £1mil.

 

Here Gallagher has had a difficult time asserting himself and has made only 23 appearances this season, primarily on the left wing. But as of late he has blossomed in the absence of Matt Fryatt and won the Championship player of the month award in February.

 

 

Keith Treacy

 

A skilful left midfielder, but a serious lack of pace and — more importantly — opportunity, forced him to seek a new club which he found down the road at Preston North End.

 

He has had little time at Preston so far to show his worth but if his loan spell at Sheffield Utd earlier this season is anything to go by it would appear that Treacy may have found his level after flitting in and out of the first team.

 

 

Andrew Taylor

 

A left back who found first team football inaccessible with Steven Warnock ahead of him in the pecking order. After many short and unsuccessful loan spells he was finally picked up by Tranmere.

 

At Tranmere, Taylor became an ever-present in the squad making just shy of 60 appearances before being poached by Sheffield Utd for roughly £400,000. Here he has made 20 appearances and looks set to establish himself in the promotion-challenging championship side.

 

 

Joe Garner

 

A striker whose all-or-nothing attitude on the pitch showed his true Blackburn roots, never afraid to get stuck in and had a keen eye for goal. Garner moved on to Carlisle from Blackburn in 2007 after failing to make a single appearance for the club.

 

A goal every other game in League One caught the attention of Nottingham Forest in 2008, who bought the striker for just over £1m and began brightly for the club. Since the arrival of Billy Davies at the Forest ground and the subsequent arrival of Adebola (2009), McGoldrick (2009), Blackstock (2009) and Earnshaw (2008), Garner has found first team prospects hard to come by as he is challenging with six other strikers (McCleary and Tyson as well as those above).

 

 

James McEveley

 

Finally, the last player on my list is the only one to have shown their face in the Premiership since leaving Ewood Park. A left back who made 17 appearances for Rovers between 2002-2007 before finally joining Derby for £600,000.

 

Here he has the bragging rights of gaining promotion to the premier league…and also accruing the least points of any premier league team — ever. But after several setbacks through injury and a couple of loan spells from Derby to recuperate he has finally made the left back slot his own once again and is nearing his 100th appearance for Derby, alongside with 3 caps for the Scotland national team.

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Harmi että Steven Reidin uran sitten pilasivat useat ja erittäin vakavat loukkaantumiset sini-/valkopaidassa.

 

Uraa vielä kait jatkaa palloilun parissa kuitenkin (varsinkaan kun ikä ei ole vielä ole suurikaan hidasta edes) ihan kohtalaisen korkeallakin tasolta saanut tarjouksia (esim. Celtic ja West Brom)..

 

..mutta Roversissa siis pelit sitten ovat ohitse.

 

Tämä pommi ei kuitenkaan unohdu koskaan..

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BePuBZK84Oc]YouTube- Steven Reid-awesome goal[/ame]

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Jason Wilcox on the Blackburn Rovers revolution: Part one

5:30pm Monday 24th May 2010

 

JASON Wilcox is often regarded as one of Blackburn Rovers’ unsung heroes in their glory years of the mid-1990s, but there is no doubting that the England winger played a big part in the club’s success, culminating in the Premier League title win of 1995. Here, in the first of a four-part series on Wilcox, he tells of the extraordinary team spirit that binded Rovers together at the time.

 

JASON Wilcox’s tales of Blackburn Rovers’ Premier League glory years do not sound like your typical formula for masterminding a historic title-winning success.

 

From smashed coach windows, to hotel water fights, to dressing room bust-ups.

 

Rovers’ class of 1995 perhaps didn’t take the traditional route towards joining football’s elite.

 

But now, 15 years on from lifting the Premier League trophy, former Rovers winger Wilcox reflects on their less orthodox approach to glory, insisting their unique team spirit and unity was the key ingredient and was something that could never be copied.

 

Some will always accuse Kenny Dalglish’s men of ‘just buying the title’ after Jack Walker’s money facilitated the way for Rovers’ incredible rise from footballing obscurity to English champions in the space of little more than three seasons.

 

Wilcox is the first to admit their rise would never have been possible without ‘Uncle Jack’s incredible contribution’, but is quick to shoot down the critics by claiming ‘you couldn’t buy our spirit’.

 

He said: “People say Blackburn bought the title, we didn’t buy the title at all.

 

Kenny Dalglish brought in players who no one else wanted, they were not the players in demand or else other clubs would have got them.

 

“Kenny just saw things in players, we had to all fit into a jigsaw puzzle.

 

"If there was a great player out there with a big ego there was no way Kenny would have touched him. There were no egos.

 

“There are not a lot of players who sit together in a dressing room and think ‘we are all good and can beat anyone’.

 

"We knew we would all back our team-mates up, run through a brick wall for your mates, your manager and for Jack. I feel privileged to have been part of that.

 

“Players might earn millions nowadays but to have sat in that dressing room with a bunch of players you really got on with and like as people is a one-off. It was special.”

 

That memorable May afternoon back in 1995, when Tim Sherwood lifted the Premier League trophy at Anfield, will live long in the memories of any Rovers fan lucky enough to have witnessed the occasion.

 

But for a 39-year-old Wilcox, still living in the north west, the abiding memories came from some of the ‘everyday moments’ that just summed up the special atmosphere around Ewood Park.

 

As he recalls some of the antics he and his team mates got up to from his Worsley home, he still bursts out laughing at their childish behaviour and believes it was the camaraderie that paved their way to triumph.

 

Many of the stories will stay between the men who went on to carve their name forever in the club’s history, but just a taste of what went on leaves no doubts over the enormity of the team spirit.

 

“Tim Sherwood got the emergency hammer on the coach and said ‘here is a game for you’,” Wilcox recalled from one trip to a London away game.

 

“There were six or seven of us and we had to tap the window with the hammer, pass it on, and the next person would have to hit it harder.

 

“We had not even got out of Blackburn and Tim tried to put me under pressure by hitting the window hard.

 

"The whole window just shattered and you couldn’t see out of it.

 

“Tim threw the hammer to Chris Sutton and he was desperately trying to put it back where it came from in the ceiling.

 

"Obviously the coach driver stopped and we had to kick the window out. We were driving down to London.

 

“So we tell the driver it must have been a stone from the other side of the road and the coach driver wasn’t having that.

 

"Kenny came up and he must have known but he tried to protect us saying it was the heat from the ovens.

 

“Then we bet Mike Newell he couldn’t sit there at the side of the bare window all the way to London.

 

"God know what he was earning at the time but he sat there for a tenner from each of us with no top on all the way to London the day before a game.”

 

The likes of Alan Shearer, Chris Sutton, Graeme Le Saux, David Batty, Tim Flowers and Tim Sherwood were added to Rovers' squad by Dalglish as the former Liverpool boss quickly built a team to be feared throughout the country.

 

But, while they were clearly not short of talent on their way to fourth position in 1993, then second in 1994 before claiming the Premier League crown, Wilcox insists the secret was togetherness rather than a group of 'great individuals'.

 

He said: “We had such an unbelievable team spirit, you couldn’t even repeat half of the stuff.

 

"Nothing bad, but just mucking around. Water fights in hotels, it was just everyone was messing around.

 

“We would not have got away with it if we weren’t winning.

 

"Kenny turned a blind eye to the pratting about as long as we were winning.

 

“Don’t get me wrong, if we weren’t performing we knew about it.

 

"But you had this mentality where we were all as one and if we got a rollicking we deserved it.

 

"We were getting rollickings the right way.

 

“Kenny was good in that he brought a lot of players in who were happy to be part of the squad.

 

"We had a group of players who were playing every week but the ones who weren’t were happy not to kick up a fuss.

 

“No one mentions Nicky Marker but players like that were fantastic for the team. He did an unbelievable job whenever he was called upon.”

 

With brave heart Colin Hendry marshalling the troops at the back, Batty and Sherwood dictating the midfield and Shearer bullying defences, a lack of strong characters was certainly no problem for Dalglish's Rovers.

 

Sir Alex Ferguson constantly tried to unsettle Manchester United's new rivals with his usual mind games, Devon Loch anyone?, but with Dalglish leading from the front the boys from Ewood showed they were made from sterner stuff.

 

“Kenny protected us so much,” Wilcox said. “He wouldn’t take any rubbish off anyone.

 

"He was standing up to Alex Ferguson, he was the biggest name in football. That played a massive part because it gave you confidence.

 

“We were all strong in our own right though. There were no shrinking violets in there.

 

"We were falling out at half-time, having a go at each other, even on the pitch.

 

“Tim Sherwood was our leader but we were all leaders around that.

 

"We were strong enough to take the arguments and afterwards we were all laughing and joking about it because we had won.”

 

“By the time we finished second in the league, we knew we were going to win it one day.

 

"We were all so hungry. No one had won anything and we knew as a collective group we had a real good chance.

 

"We just thought it was a matter of time and we were right.”

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Jason Wilcox on the Blackburn Rovers revolution: Part two

5:40pm Tuesday 25th May 2010

 

IN part two of our four-part series looking back on Rovers’ rise to the Premier League, Jason Wilcox talks about the departure of Don Mackay, the arrival of Kenny Dalglish and the play-off victory at Wembley.

 

JASON Wilcox didn’t need a bird to poop on his new suit to suggest he was the subject of good fortune – the last few months should already have told him he had fallen upon the chance of a lifetime.

 

The Blackburn Rovers winger was forced to sit out the biggest moment of his early career in May 1992 through injury, as Mike Newell’s penalty gave Kenny Dalglish’s men a 1-0 play-off final victory over Leicester at Wembley and entry to the Premier League.

 

Wilcox was devastated to miss out, and his afternoon was not made any better by a stray bird pre-match, but all individual woes were quickly forgotten as a bright collective future seemed almost guaranteed at Ewood Park.

 

“That was my chance to play at Wembley,” he said. “As a kid you want to play at Wembley and there is no bigger occasion than the play-off final.

 

"So I walked out in my suit and a bird messed down it.

 

“We had these bright yellow suits and I had this red and green stuff all over my suit. I didn’t know whether it was good luck or bad luck, I guess it was good if you look at what followed.

 

“We took the change that was happening at the club for granted. A lot of us were kids and we just breezed through it.

 

"It is only now, looking back, you realise quite what a momentous thing you were part of.”

 

Just 12 months previous, a 21-year-old Wilcox was attempting to establish himself as a first team regular having been brought through the ranks at Ewood Park.

 

Now he was in the middle of a major footballing revolution.

 

Steel magnate Jack Walker had already bought a 62 per cent controlling share of the club in January 1991, and was even rumoured to have financed the signings of Ossie Ardiles and Steve Archibald some years earlier.

 

But it was his appointment of Dalglish as manager in October 1991 that really shaped what was to come as Blackburn Rovers were suddenly thrust into the big time.

 

Wilcox said: “There was a time when the rumours started filtering through.

 

"We heard someone had started to put money in and Don Mackay had just started to get these big name players.

 

“We got to a stage when Jack came in, he got rid of Don, who was a fantastic bloke, and almost straight away Kenny Dalglish came in. Then Ray Harford came in as well.

 

“Kenny was my idol at that time. I was a Liverpool fan as a kid and to know Kenny Dalglish was coming in was an unbelievable turnaround.

 

"The club was still small, we were still training at Pleasington.

 

“But Kenny came in and was completely down to earth. He had an aura about him that you were frightened to death of him, you wanted to please him, and you knew whatever you got from him would be beneficial.

 

“Ray Harford came in as well and I really warmed to him.

 

"He was just a fantastic person. He was very straight forward, a great coach and knew how to handle the players.

 

"It was almost as though it was good cop bad cop with those two.

 

“I remember the first sessions. We drove down from Ewood in our cars as there were no changing facilities at Pleasington.

 

"We had to stop as the funeral processions drove by as well. It was just completely alien to what he would have been used to.”

 

While Rovers were fighting a battle to win promotion into the top flight, Wilcox had his own personal fight to get over from the terraces with some supporters not quite taking to him.

 

“My style of play didn’t suit the vocal supporters,” he said.

 

“I think I had a real core of supporters who valued what I was doing but unfortunately the vocal ones, the ones who aren’t that clued up anyway, had a problem with me.

 

“It affected me massively. I was 19, very new to the man’s world and it affected me no danger. It was happening to me under Don Mackay.

 

“Eventually I turned the supporters around. It is like a vicious circle, I wasn’t playing well and the supporters got on my back but the reason I wasn’t playing well was because the supporters were getting on my back.

 

“Kenny kept playing me through it. No matter how I played he just kept playing me and that built me up as a person and stood me in good stead for the rest of my career.

 

"I reached a point where I sank or swam and I realised I had to rise above it.

 

“Somewhere in my mind I just became very arrogant on the pitch.

 

"If they started booing me, I clapped them. I just thought ‘sod you all’.

 

"I was doing it for myself and for the club, not to impress the vocal supporters who know the least.”

 

Promotion to the Premier League wasn’t gained the easy way as Rovers threw away a commanding lead at the top of the table to scrape into the play-offs in sixth position.

 

A two-legged win over Derby County saw them progress to the play-off final where Newell fired Rovers into the top flight via the penalty spot.

 

“We needed to go up,” said Wilcox. “I have no doubt we would have gone up the season after but we needed that to keep the momentum going. Then we got more and more players in.

 

“We had a celebration on the coach on the way back, met my wife, and we all celebrated together at the Woodlands.

 

"That summed Blackburn up, all together, supporters, players, it is what memories are made of.”

 

Following on from promotion, things gathered pace at an alarming speed off the field at Rovers as their Brockhall training centre was built and Ewood Park was redeveloped.

 

On it though, Dalglish’s men just grew from strength to strength as they went about shifting the balance of power in English football.

 

Wilcox added: “I just thought it was fantastic, we were winning games in the Premier League.

 

"The first season we finished fourth, unbelievable experience, and then we finished second, then the ground started to be demolished.

 

“Before the games we had to meet up 200 yards away from the pitch and get a minibus to the pitch.

 

“Everything was changing but we just carried on. I remember beating Manchester United 2-0 the season before we won the title.

 

"We battered them that day and from that day we knew we had them.”

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Jason Wilcox on the Blackburn Rovers revolution: Part three

5:50pm Wednesday 26th May 2010

 

In the third part of our series on Rovers’ rise to the Premier League, Jason Wilcox talks about the special bond between the players and the man who made it all happen, the late, great Jack Walker.

 

HE was simply known as Uncle Jack. Even now Jack Walker’s Blackburn Rovers’ love affair shines from Ewood Park like a beacon.

 

From the state of the art stands, to the envied Brockhall Academy, to the Premier League replica trophy standing proudly in their trophy cabinet. None of it would have been possible without the club’s favourite ever son.

 

A memorial statue of the Black-burn-born steel magnate still greets visitors to Ewood today as the memories of Rovers’ Premier League triumph remain there for all to see.

 

Starting out as a Rovers fan on the terraces in the 1950s watching local heroes Bryan Douglas and Ronnie Clayton, Walker inspired a new chapter in the club’s history, possibly the finest, when he took control in 1991 and ploughed millions into his boyhood club.

 

His money, made in the development of Walker Steel, suddenly propelled the club among football’s big boys and facilitated the arrival of the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton and ultimately the 1995 Premier League title.

 

Former Rovers winger Wilcox was still in his early 20’s, having progressed through the ranks, as the direction of the club’s future changed forever and he admits the contributions of one man can never be under estimated.

 

He said: “We had heard all these rumours about Jack, how he had won a nightclub in a game of pool. These rumours just circulate, or on the toss of a coin he won something else. We never knew what is true.

 

“We never really knew him. He was a man of mystery to us but he was a great man and so generous and a real Blackburn Rovers fan. What he did for the club was immense.

 

“To put his mark on his home town club the way he did, that will never happen again. He came into the dressing room, a real humble fella and none of us knew how powerful he was or how wealthy he was. He was one of us, he was like Kenny.”

 

Life changed around the East Lancashire outfit almost instantly on Walker’s investment as Liverpool and Scotland legend Dalglish was appointed as the club’s manager, with Ray Harford as his assistant, and money made available.

 

Promotion to the Premier League was quickly achieved but this was just the start of the Walker revolution. Over the next couple of years three sides of Ewood were demolished and totally rebuilt.

 

Alan Shearer’s £3.3million arrival from Southampton in the summer of 1992 broke the British transfer record and Rovers were starting to spring to national prominence.

 

All the time ‘Uncle Jack’ was building his football empire though he never strayed away though from what was crucial in the construction of a title-winning team, looking after the people who were part of it.

 

Wilcox remembers: “He took us over to Jersey one particular year to play his team First Tower. He flew us over on one of his planes and we had a pre match meal at a fish restaurant somewhere. We were all sat on these long tables, with Jack, Kenny and Ray in the middle of everything.

 

“Jack said to Kenny ‘can the lads have a glass of wine with the pre match meal?’. Kenny said ‘yeah, just the one’. So these bottles of wine just started coming, coming, coming and coming. They just didn’t stop.

 

“In the end we were just all absolutely drunk as skunks.

 

“I don’t know if Jack did it on purpose because he wanted his team to win or at least give them a chance. That would sum Jack up because he was a real clever bloke.

 

“I remember seeing Stuart Ripley being sick during the national anthems before the game. The first ball that came he couldn’t even see the ball. We just about won in the end. We just had a fantastic time.

 

“We went to this nightclub, that we were all saying Jack had won, and everything was on the top floor. Stan Boardman was on and he got pelted because no one was listening to him, we were all partying.

 

“Everything was free. I remember seeing David May walking round with two bottles of champagne in his hand. What was going on? I had never heard of champagne before.”

 

While Walker’s wealth remained something of legend to Wilcox and company, the man himself refused to put himself on a pedestal as he mixed with everyday life around the club.

 

In Dalglish and Walker, Rovers had two of life’s success stories but Wilcox believes it was their down to earth approach that made the transition so comfortable.

 

Wilcox said: “Kenny had done everything in the game and Jack had done everything in business. It was the perfect marriage and there were no airs and graces.

 

“When we went back to the hotel on that trip to Jersey, Jack was playing this game, flick a 10 piece in a wine glass and Jack cleaned up from all of us. I don’t know how long he had been practicing that? Who practices that?Maybe that is where he started making his money.”

 

The death of Jack Walker on August 17, 2000, aged 71, left the town in mourning, as thousands converged on Ewood to sign books of condolence and leave personal and floral tributes to a man who had touched the lives of so many people.

 

The journey was over but the memories never will be for anyone who witnessed Rovers’ rags to riches tale that still sees them as one of only four clubs to have ever lifted the Premier League trophy.

 

Wilcox said: “Jack had a private funeral. I think a couple of the lads asked if they could attend. If we all knew we could have done that, we would have done that.

 

“I will always have my memories of him though.

 

“I have played for three clubs since but it seems as though I played for Blackburn yesterday.

 

“It is embedded in your memory and what Jack did for the club and the town is amazing.

 

“If you ask anyone who has played for Blackburn they will say it is a special club.

 

“Your family settles quickly because everyone is a nice person.

 

“They are all top people at this club and you can never take away what we achieved.”

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Jason Wilcox on the Blackburn Rovers revolution: Part four

5:50pm Thursday 27th May 2010

 

IN the final part of our series looking at Blackburn’s rise to the Premier League, Jason Wilcox talks about the magical day at Anfield when Rovers lost the game but won the league title.

 

“IT should have been the start of lots of trophies and even greater moments.

 

"For some reason though we never achieved enough. That day at Anfield was the start of the end.”

 

On a sunny May afternoon in 1995 at Anfield, Blackburn Rovers’ wildest dreams were realised as Tim Sherwood lifted the Premier League trophy to confirm their fairytale rise from obscurity to champions.

 

Little more than four years after Jack Walker took control of the club, and tens of millions pounds later, Rovers had achieved their aim.

 

Jason Wilcox just wishes the ‘unforgettable adventure’ hadn’t stopped as quickly as it did.

 

“The biggest thing that disappoints me was we didn’t achieve enough,” he said.

 

“We had everything in place to kick on and do something even more special but it didn’t take off. I don’t know why.

 

“We beat Barcelona in a friendly the year before, that was amazing.

 

"Blackburn were playing Barcelona in an exhibition match and we beat them 3-1. This squad should have done something in Europe.”

 

Kenny Dalglish immediately stepped down from day-to-day management, Alan Shearer was sold to Newcastle United the summer after and a top six Premier League finish has only ever been achieved three times since.

 

The ‘if onlys’ will always be somewhere in Wilcox’s thoughts as he reflects back on how quickly the heroes of 1995 were dismantled but he knows nothing will ever take away from that moment they were crowned champions.

 

Wilcox himself had to sit out that day of destiny at Anfield due to a cruciate ligament knee injury but, sitting on the substitutes bench, got the best seat in the house for the drama that was to follow.

 

Just 90 minutes away from the ultimate prize, Rovers travelled to Liverpool on the final day of the season two points ahead of Manchester United, who were playing at West Ham United.

 

The title seemed destined for Ewood Park as Shearer fired Rovers ahead and United fell behind at Upton Park, but as Liverpool and Alex Ferguson’s men levelled the tension set in.

 

For one agonising moment it looked as though Jamie Redknapp’s late winner could break Rovers hearts until news filtered through from Upton Park.

 

Rovers had done it, they were champions.

 

Wilcox said: “It was a strange occasion. At that time, I just thought if we don’t win it today we will win it next year.

 

"I just felt so confident and that day when the whistle went we didn’t know the drama that was happening at Upton Park.

 

“I think we all put West Ham keeper Ludek Miklosko in our team of the year for the next five years.

 

"He was the first name on our nominations whether he was playing or not.

 

“The day was amazing. If you want to win it anywhere aside from Ewood Park then you would want to win it there, with Kenny’s history.

 

“The Liverpool fans were almost Blackburn fans that day.

 

“When we were walking around the Liverpool fans were singing for us.

 

"I remember Neil Ruddock coming in with champagne and stuff like that. Great memories.

 

“It is tainted a little bit for me because I was so disappointed I wasn’t in my kit and really involved.

 

“We performed poorly on the day, it probably was nerves.

 

"I remember talking to Henning Berg and he mentioned he couldn’t move his legs.

 

“You set out as a young kid and that is your dream to win the league.

 

“To do that was just amazing, especially as we had only been promoted three years before.”

 

The celebrations that followed were to last all summer as the efforts of the last four years had come together in one glorious moment the whole town were to revel in.

 

The thousands of Rovers fans at Anfield that day will never forget the date, while the following day a packed Ewood Park welcomed back their heroes in style.

 

“I was determined not to take my crutches on the pitch but I was limping about.

 

"If you look at the team pictures there was no way I could have gone on the front,” said Wilcox.

 

“Alan had just had his cruciate done and if you look at the team pictures he couldn’t bend down either.

 

"His knee won’t bend and I am at the back because there was no way I could bend down.

 

“I don’t remember anything about the game. I just remember being on the pitch and celebrating with the supporters and holding up the trophy. It was just amazing.

 

“There was a big party at Bistro French in Preston, it wasn’t for us though.

 

"It was a venue where Kenny and Ray had known the owner and us players had been in there several times.

 

“So we all gatecrashed the party. Whoever’s party it was suddenly it became a better one when we all turned up in our tracksuits.

 

"I think a Drifters tribute act were on but I can’t remember much about it, I have to admit.”

 

Within the weeks of celebrations though, the club underwent a major management reshuffle as Kenny Dalglish became director of football and Ray Harford was promoted to manager.

 

The following season Rovers were dumped out of Europe before finishing a disappointing seventh in the Premier League and, after Shearer’s sale and Dalglish’s resignation, the glory years were over.

 

“I think only Kenny, Ray and Jack could tell you what went on and I don’t think we will ever get to the bottom of that, despite all the rumours flying around,” said Wilcox.

 

“I think once Kenny went, Alan left shortly after and that is probably why we didn’t win it again. The two main people in the set-up.

 

"Something happened and if Kenny and Alan had stayed we would have recovered and won the league again.

 

"We would have learnt from the experience but the team split up.

 

“The euphoria around the place was still carrying on as well.

 

"We still had this immense feeling around the place and I think we rested on our laurels a little bit.

 

“It was difficult for Ray and it was a big transitional period.

 

"He had gone from being our friend to our boss. Kenny was never our friend he was our boss, Ray was our friend.

 

"It became difficult to all of a sudden change from calling someone Ray for four years to calling them gaffer.”

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DlO6XZxNdU

 

 

Former Tottenham, Blackburn and Arsenal midfielder David Bentley has said that he fell out of love with football and has no interest in reviving his career as a player.

 

Without a club since leaving Spurs last June, Bentley told Des Kelly on BT’s Life’s a Pitch that he found football had become robotic, too stats-based and said social media was another reason for his decline of affection towards the beautiful game.

 

His voice shaking, Bentley appeared to be quite emotional at times, talking about how months passed seemingly without him even noticing but quashed the possibility of a return to playing by saying he didn’t miss it.

 

After initially going over to Spain for a planned three month break, Bentley has not gone back since. “Three months happened and, my partner, she fell pregnant with twins. And it became sorta, (a situation where) I didn’t wanna take myself away.”

 

Capped by England seven times, Bentley admitted that he hasn’t played football of any sort in the last few months.

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Nuno Gomes: I wish I'd joined Blackburn Rovers sooner

First published Saturday 21 June 2014 in
Last updated 01:20 Sunday 22 June 2014

 

NUNO Gomes appeared in two World Cups and three European Championships, but he does have a regret. He wishes he had played for Blackburn Rovers sooner.

 

Some might have regretted signing for Rovers at all, after only one start in the final seven months of a chaotic 2012/13 campaign that included boardroom infighting and five different managers.

 

But the Portuguese striker does not feel that way about his time in England, which ultimately proved to be the final act of an illustrious playing career.

 

He arrived at Ewood Park at the age of 35, after 79 caps and 29 goals for his country, and quickly netted four times in his first six games for the club.

 

He surprisingly faded out of the team though and his two-year contract was cut short at the halfway mark, as Rovers attempted to reduce their wage bill.

 

“I spent very good moments in Blackburn and I really enjoyed playing for them,” Gomes told the Lancashire Telegraph.

 

“I met some wonderful people and I still talk with some of them.

 

“It was sad for me that I had to leave but with my age and not playing we decided that was the best solution for everybody.

 

“I wish I had played for them when I was younger, and without the big confusion regarding the administration (at the club) that we were involved in last season.

 

“They did very well this season and I was always supporting them to reach the play-offs.

 

“I wish that they return to the Premier League as soon as possible because that is where they belong.”

 

Although technically not part of Portugal’s ‘golden generation’ – that tag is reserved for those who played in FIFA World Youth Championship victories in 1989 and 1991 – Gomes joined forces with the likes of Luis Figo, Joao Pinto, Rui Costa in one of his country’s greatest ever teams at senior level.

 

He had featured at the FIFA World Youth Championship himself in 1995, when Portugal finished third, before representing his country at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

But Gomes really made his name at Euro 2000, even if he actually ended the tournament with a seven-month international ban for pushing a referee.

 

That came at the end of a controversial semi final that France won from the penalty spot after a disputed handball by Abel Xavier, but Gomes had already scored in the game and just getting that far was a major achievement for Portugal.

 

A star with Benfica, his first international goal had been the winner in a dramatic group game against England, which Kevin Keegan’s side had led 2-0.

 

“The goal against England was one of the most important goals in my national career,” he said.

 

“It was my first goal ever with the national team after the under 21s.

 

“Euro 2000 was an important tournament for Portugal.

 

“We arrived into the semi finals and lost to France, who were the winners of the tournament.

 

“That tournament changed my life because I scored four goals and I was one of the revelations of that year.”

 

Expectations were high then for the World Cup in 2002, but it ended in disaster for Portugal. They were eliminated from a group included the USA, Poland and joint hosts South Korea.

The ‘golden generation’ tag proved a heavy burden on that occasion.

 

“It was normal for us to have that kind of pressure because we did very well in 2000,” says Gomes, who had moved to Fiorentina by 2002 but featured only twice as a substitute in the tournament after injury.

 

“We had a group of experienced players at that time and they were playing in a lot of big teams in Europe.

 

“It was very disappointing for us to return home after the group stage, because our expectations were very high.

 

“But we didn’t prepare for the tournament as well as we wished and I came from an injury that didn’t let me play more.”

 

The hosts in Euro 2004, Portugal had the emerging Cristiano Ronaldo alongside the experienced Figo.

 

“They were fantastic team-mates and for a striker they made my job easier,” Gomes says.

 

“They were both were very professional players and really worked hard to help our national team.”

 

Gomes scored the winner against Spain in the last group match to help Portugal recover from defeat to Greece in the opening game – only for the same opponents to beat them again in the final, thanks to an Angelos Charisteas header.

 

“It was a big tournament and the atmosphere was amazing,” Gomes remembers.

 

“We did very well and I scored the goal that we needed to reach the quarter finals.

 

“We were unlucky in the final. Greece did very well after they scored.”

 

There were mixed emotions for Gomes at the 2006 World Cup.

 

Portugal reached the semi finals with a win on penalties over England – two years after also winning a shoot-out against Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side at the European Championships.

But the former Rovers striker featured only twice in the tournament, although he did score in the third place play-off against Germany.

 

“The game against England was very intense with a very unpredictable result, like in 2004,” he says.

 

“I was expecting to play more, but I scored in the last game.”

 

A veteran of the side by then, Gomes was Portugal’s skipper at Euro 2008 as they reached the quarter finals before running into Germany.

 

“It was a very proud moment for me to be the captain of national team,” he says.

 

“We lost to a strong Germany team, but we were not worse than them.

 

“That can happen in big tournaments like the Euros or the World Cup when two big teams are playing.”

 

Now retired, Gomes is taking a watching brief for this World Cup, as Portugal face the USA in their second group game tomorrow.

 

“I'm working as a president’s advisor for Benfica now and I’m responsible for the overall international relations at the club,” he says.

 

“I’m happy to work for the club that I support, the club that for 12 seasons I played for.

 

“I’m doing well.”

 

http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/sport/football/11292598.Nuno_Gomes__I_wish_I_d_joined_Blackburn_Rovers_sooner/?ref=nt

 

 

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Tugay: Blackburn Rovers will always be in my heart and in my mind
http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/sport/football/11460528._/

 

Tugay: Why Blackburn Rovers gave me a new lease of life
http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/sport/football/11464183._/

 

Tugay: My favourite Blackburn Rovers goals are the ones that helped us win
http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/sport/football/11464254._/

 

 

In 2000, former Romanian legend Gheorghe Hagi rated him as one of the finest ball-playing midfielders in Europe, and in 2006, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had suggested that if he were ten years younger, Tugay's ability would make him an ideal player for the Old Trafford team. When Tugay's manager at the time, Mark Hughes, was asked if he too wished Tugay was ten years younger, his answer was "No, because if he was, he'd be playing in a Barcelona shirt."

 

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David Bentley reveals he retired because he 'never felt like a footballer'

http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/david-bentley-reveals-retired-because-4422905

 

 

Ex-England winger quit in June at age 29 saying a 'robotic' culture made him fall out of love with the game and now co-owns a restaurant in Marbella.

 

David Bentley sits beneath the late afternoon sun on the terrace of the restaurant he co-owns in Marbella nursing half a lager and reflecting on a morning well spent, writes Tom Hopkinson in the Sunday People.

 

A few hours with his five-year-old daughter and six-month-old twins, one of each, and a bit of time with his builder helping to demolish a wall at the home he and his partner Kim are renovating nearby.

 

He looks fit and relaxed as he chats happily about how the beach club and restaurant ventures he has invested in have taken off over the past few years.

 

After the success of his investment in Marbella with the La Sala founders, business associate Ian Radford and football agent Rob Segal, Bentley has invested in the new ­UK-based La Sala Ltd, which is opening its first venue this week in Chigwell, Essex.

 

The scene begs one question: “Where did it all go wrong?”

 

“Exactly,”says Bentley, laughing.

 

Yet many would argue that things really have gone wrong for ex-winger Bentley.

 

A decade ago he was tipped to be football’s next big thing as he rose through the ranks at Arsenal, but this summer, aged 29, he retired without fanfare after ­failing to hit the heights he was ­supposed to reach.

 

He made one appearance for the Gunners before forcing through a move to Blackburn – where he had been on loan – at the age of 22.

 

Two years later he was an England international – he won nine caps in total – and Tottenham had paid £15million to take him back to north London.

 

Bentley signed a five-year deal at White Hart Lane but his career stalled under Harry Redknapp and by the time his contract ran out, following loans to Birmingham, West Ham, FC Rostov in Russia and Blackburn, he had made just 42 appearances for the club.

 

By his own admission, the further he went in the game the more disillusioned he grew and when that contract expired he slipped away for good.

 

Bentley said: “To be honest, I was even having a few doubts about football when I was at Blackburn.

 

“It was weird. Kim was like: ‘You’ve got to buck your ideas up’. A lot of people were saying that and I remember walking my dog, thinking: ‘This ain’t for me’.

 

“I remember being a bit disappointed in myself. I was thinking: ‘You should love it, what’s the matter with you? You’re only saying this because you’re a little bit unhappy at the minute’.

 

“But in the end I just got tired of all the bull**** that goes with it, people wanting you to sell yourself as something you’re not.

 

“I loved matchdays, the atmosphere and the buzz, but, looking back, the biggest disappointment was coming out of youth team football.

 

“Back then I was with my mates, playing Sunday League, you’re winning together with all your mums and dads, that’s when football is brilliant.

 

“For me the professional dressing-room wasn’t that exciting, life wasn’t that great. Whether my career reached the heights it could or should have done – certain people are built for the life of a footballer but I don’t think I was.

 

“I had the tools but I don’t think I had that,” he added, tapping his head. “But that’s what makes me who I am and I never wanted to change it.

 

“Everyone grows up dreaming of being a Premier League footballer, playing for England – and I did it.

 

“But it wasn’t like whoopee-do and then, bang, finished. The contract ran down, it stopped and I stopped playing. I didn’t give up while I had a contract, I just decided that my future was outside of football.”     

 

Bentley understands football fans will frequently question his decision. He said: “Most people say: ‘What are you doing?’ But that’s based on finances.

 

“A large percentage of people have to conduct their lives for financial reasons and I understand that because I came from nothing and I’m still connected with people who have to work to live.

 

“It’s easy for me to say because I’m in a position where I have the money. But money becomes a controlling thing and I didn’t want that to happen.

 

“No matter how much or how little I had, I never wanted it to affect my life, my day-to-day plans, the way I treated people.”

 

It helped, of course, that Bentley’s other business interests were flourishing and he is excited about the next chapter of his life, which he hopes will include a further three restaurants in the UK.

 

He added: “The future doesn’t worry me. I’ve always been like: ‘Whatever is five feet in front of me is what I deal with at the time.’

 

“One of the main reasons for the move was that I wanted my kids to be bilingual – it’s very multi-cultural.

 

“It’s a privilege now to wake up and do what I want, and take nothing away from football, this is what it has provided me.

 

“I’ve got great friends, great ­businesses. Perfect. I’m living the dream.”

 

*Interview courtesy of Impact Sports Management and La Sala UK.

 

 

Romford Pele: No robot

 

Bentley lists Ray Parlour, Craig Bellamy and Robbie Savage as three of the best characters he played with.

 

Bentley blames the demands football places on players to be a bit robotic these days for sapping away much of his love for the game. But he said: “There was a good group at Blackburn and when I was at Arsenal, Ray Parlour, he loved it.

 

"He trained and worked hard, but he was always good fun. Then I went to Blackburn and you had Craig Bellamy and Robbie Savage, just a variety  of opinions and different people, they weren’t all mundane. It was nice to go in every day, it was exciting.”

 

 

Wenger's the best

 

Arsene Wenger's name trips off Bentley’s tongue almost before the end of the question about who was his best boss.

 

And Bentley revealed the Frenchman did not want him to leave Arsenal.

 

Bentley said: “Arsene Wenger was the best by a mile. He was always coaching, every day. He was always a part of it. He always spoke well and he continues to do it.

 

“Wenger was the best manager I played for. He gets stick now because he has been involved in it so long and the pressure he must be under. But he loves it, doesn’t he? He cares a lot and he wants his players to succeed.

 

“Wenger didn’t want me to leave but I was eager to. I was scared of my future back then, what was going to happen.

 

“I saw players in front of me like Graham Barrett, Paolo Vernazza, people I thought were good players, and they stood still.

 

"If I’d have stood still, that would have been it. I wouldn’t be sitting here now, so I believe everything I did is so I can sit here now with a smile on my face.”

 

 

Branding all a fake

 

Bentley was dubbed the “new David Beckham” by former England boss Steve McClaren.

 

Like Becks, he had the looks and the charisma to match his talent and was a marketing man’s dream.

 

Except Bentley was never interested in becoming a brand off the field like the multi-millionaire former Three Lions skipper.

 

And Bentley said: “When you’re a footballer you have to sell yourself all the time and I was never really any good at that so I just didn’t bother.

 

“We looked at getting a team around me, getting a brand and selling me in a certain way, doing the right thing and getting involved in a charity, and it all seemed pretty fake to me.”

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Harmi tosiaan jalkapalloillevalle mailmalle että tuolla Bentleyllä ei sitten intohimoa lopuksi riittänyt tuon enempää jalkapallon peluuta kohtaan, tosin kunnioitettava homma myös se että suht nuorena nappulat pisti naulaan ja alkoi tekemään jotain mistä oikeasti nauttii, eikä väkisin väännä sitä ammattia johon palo kokonaan lopahti.

 

Parhaat vuotensahan futiskentillä poika pelasi Blackburnissa ja teki useamman uskomattoman maalin jotka ikuisesti mielessä säilyvät.. eikä hänelle se nurmikko ollut vihreämpää siellä aidan toisella puolella kun "tähtiin lähti kurkottamaan", tosin tuskin tuo motivaatio pelaamiseen hänen kohdallaan olisi säilynyt enää missään seurassa.

 

On muuten ensimmäinen Englantilainen futaaja joka meni pelaamaan Venäjän Liigaan ja eipä sinne kyseisen kansalaisuuden omaavia pelaajia ole hänen jälkeensäkän tainnut mennä, tähän päivään mennessä siis.. toki joku Irkku tais ainakin käydä..

 

 

Muistaakseni kun pojan lainasiirto muuttui pysyväksi siirroksi, niin tekas uuden sopparin kunniaksi hattutempun heti kättelyssä ManUn verkkoon...

 

 

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Dickson Etuhu siirtyi sitten Ruotsiin pelaamaan ja AIK:n riveihin.. eipä paljoa jäänyt jälkipolville kerrottavaa hepun Rovers pestistä, suunnilleen kaikki mahdollinenhan siinä pieleen meni.. joten totaalinen maisemanvaihdos varmasti tekee terää noin peliuran jatkumisen kannalta…

http://www.sportsmole.co.uk/football/aik-fotboll/transfer-talk/news/etuhu-makes-sweden-switch_195304.html

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Mainio sakki tuossa koolla omalla junnuaikakautenaan :)
 

Damien Duff lienee se pisimmälle pötkinyt veijari noin puhtaasti jalkapallouralla… toki tuossa useampikin usemman kauden Valioliigassa tahkonnut pelaaja on.. eräälle kuvassa olevalle kävi kuitenkin kävi todella ikävästi kun oli jopa kaavailtu että vois tulla Graeme LeSauxin seuraaja edustustukseen.. mutta omissa treeneissä vetäs kerran ”synkkänä” päivänä jalat sillain David Dunnin kanssa yhteen että peliura katkesi siihen sitten lopullisesti :(

 

Noh eipä siinä mitään melkoisen myllerryksen käynyt tämä veijari elämässään, erinäisten riippuvuuksien parissa mutta nyt näyttää taas valoisalta hänen kohdallaan :) Ikuinen hyvä ystävä allekirjoittaneelle, jonka kanssa monet rupattelut on rupateltu ja tullaan BRFC:stä höpöttämään.. ja melkoiset väännöt aina Pro Evossa ja GT:ssä kans :) tai no on aivan pirun kova tekijä tuossa GT:ssä, että siinä ei meikäläisellä mitään jakoja. Tosin nyt on jonkisen verran päässyt koklailemaan ihan oikeita rata-autojakin joten ihan oikeat menopelitkin tullut hänen kohdaltaan testatuksi.. on futiksen lisäksi todella innokas autourheilunystävä..

 

..tämä kyseinen ystäväni muuten vietti lapsuudessaan ja nuoruudessaan aika paljon aikaa erään Craig Bellamyn kanssa, joten siitä mukavasti juttua kuullut, toki paljon posiitisempaa kuin mitä roskalehdistö yleensä tuppaa suoltamaan.

 

 

BRFC.jpg

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