September 24, 2015, Posted by Tom in Books, Sport

Rugby World Cup reading: Bomb by Adam Jones

With the 2015 Rugby World Cup up and running, now’s the perfect time to invest in some rugger-related reading materials. We’ve got an exclusive extract from Bomb, the autobiography of Wales legend Adam Jones, talking about his first World Cup experience back in 2003…

We flew down under more in hope than expectation, but it was exciting. They love their sport out there, and to take part in a World Cup in such a sports-obsessed country was something I was relishing. It was quite the start to my test career.

Scott Johnson is as Australian as they come, and wanted us to embrace the culture and history of the place. He’d arranged for a famous Australian to speak to us prior to every game. First up was Andrew Johns, the Rugby League player regarded by many as the best ever. People of a certain generation in Wales consider Rugby League to be the sport of the devil, as we lost a golden generation of players to the code during Rugby Union’s amateur era. But it’s always been a guilty pleasure of mine, and I was one of the few who knew who Johns was. Our analyst, Alun Carter, had put together a video montage of him which was played before his talk, and that left our boys in no doubt as to the scope of his talent.

He was a little dwt of a bloke, but didn’t take any prisoners on the field. Johnno’s idea was that we’d get a sense of the level of professionalism adopted by the League boys, and that some of it would rub off. But Andrew wasn’t exactly on message. He’d played in a few State of Origin series – where Queensland and New South Wales play each other. It’s a massive deal in Australia. The stadiums are always packed, and the TV viewing figures are off the scale. Gareth Llewellyn asked a question about prepara- tion, because they’re effectively scratch sides pulled together according to their ‘state of origin’. Andrew explained that they basically get together and go on the piss. They’ll meet on a Sunday night and go out drinking. Then they meet up on Monday morning and go on an all-day drinking session. On the Tuesday, they’ll be too hungover to do anything other than run through a few moves. And then on Wednesday they play the game.

We could see Hansen and Horey sinking into their seats. They’d spent so long instilling a sense of discipline into us, and trying to transform the culture of the Welsh changing room. And here was this uber-professional Rugby League guy telling us they prepared for the biggest matches of their season by going on a two-day bender! Probably not the kind of inspirational message the Welsh management were hoping for.

We played Canada first, in Melbourne. As much as a loose-head prop can be called a talisman, Rod Snow was theirs. We knew him well from his days at Newport, and we knew if we put a few big hits on him early, it would dent the morale of the team as a whole. We’d noticed during our analysis that he stood out in the wide channels a lot as ball carrier, which is very unusual for a big prop. Steve Hansen challenged the boys to see who could make the biggest hit on him. Robin McBryde accepted the gauntlet and absolutely smoked him early on.

It set the tone for a comfortable victory, and we were up and running.

Bomb: My Autobiography by Adam Jones is out now in hardback and ebook

bomb

 Other rugby books for the World Cup season…

  • My Autobiography by Dan Carter – out this November, this is the story of a country boy who went on to become rugby’s world superstar
  • Carry Me Home by Ben Cohen – a very deep and personal story, with Cohen discussing how he put all of the anger and pain from his father’s death into his rugby
  • Jonny: My Autobiography by Jonny Wilkinson – a classic read from a few years ago, with the World Cup hero telling all about his career (including that drop goal in 2003)

August 27, 2015, Posted by Tom in Books, Books, Sport

Where Am I? Phil Tufnell’s cultural favourites

With his hilarious autobiography Where Am I? out now, cricket legend and all-round hero Phil Tufnell picks his cultural highlights…

BOOK

Well, it’s a bit cheeky but I’ll have to say one of my own! I won’t push it too far and say my new one, though! I really enjoyed doing Tuffers’ Cricket Tales a few years ago as it really made me laugh out loud when I was writing it.

BAND/MUSICIAN

I like loads of different stuff so it’s a bit hard to pick. I like loads of genres and music from different eras, but if I was going to pick just one band I’d go for someone like the Black Eyed Peas.

SONG

It’s got to be my wedding dance song, the classic ‘I Love You Baby’. It’s a belter that one, a proper dancefloor filler!

ARTIST

I get to see lots of art with the work I do, and I do like to do a bit of painting myself. But for a favourite artist I’d go for someone a bit more modern, like a Banksy. Graffiti style – bit of spray paint, bit of stencil – I’ve got a few bits and pieces of that on my walls at home.

FILM

It’s got to be the classic Pulp Fiction. Great soundtrack too.

FOOD

No question about it, nothing else will do for me. Roast dinner. I could have one every day of the week. Beef. Pork. Bit of crackling. All of that, and all the trimmings. Got to have roast potatoes too. Fish and chips not far behind, though.

DRINK

If I’m going to go down the pub for a roast dinner, I’ll have to have a nice real ale with it. I love trying new ones, and all the different flavours they come up with. You can’t go wrong with a Doom Bar though.

HOLIDAY DESTINATION OR PLACE

I’ve been all over the world with my cricket – Australia, New Zealand, India – but I’d probably say somewhere in the Caribbean. Maybe Barbados, as we had some great times over there. Or maybe Ibiza actually. The quiet side of the island, mind – I’m getting on a bit now!

SPORT/TEAM

My favourite team would be The Arsenal. My Dad was a massive Arsenal fan, so I was born and bred that way. But then there’s also Middlesex for the cricket, as I played there for 20-odd years. For Arsenal though, I think we’ll do quite well this season. We always finish strong, so we’ll get 4th at least!

Where Am I? is out now in hardback and ebook

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August 6, 2015, Posted by Mr Book in Football, Sport

Men Who Know Nothing: Our Premier League Predictions

In a shameless rip off of the experts at the Guardian, we fancied having a go at predicting how this new Premiership season will go.

Bearing in mind that we know nothing about anything, here are our 2015-16 Premier League predictions…

Beau

  • Title winners – My heart’s saying Arsenal buy my head’s saying Manchester City, so I’ll go with City. It will be very, very close though this season, especially with Man United and Liverpool splashing some serious dollar.
  • Relegated – I can see Norwich really struggling and Watford not fairing much better. There are half a dozen other teams who could well join them but I think it will be Leicester City who take the plunge.
  • Player of the season – The likely candidates (Hazard, Aguero, Costa) will leave a mark but I think this will be the season we finally see the real Mesut Ozil step up and show everyone what a talent he is.
  • Surprise of the season – Bournemouth finishing in the top half of the table. You heard it here first.
  • Signing of the season – A lot has been made of City’s signing of Sterling, but signing Memphis Depay could be exactly what Man United need. Like Di Maria, but with balls and hunger.
  • Young player of the season – After a lacklustre season last year, Luke Shaw should cement his place in the Man United and England first XI.
  • Least excited about – Watching Chelsea and listening to the river of drivel come out of Alan Shearer‘s mouth on Match of the Day.
  • Most excited about – Seeing Walcott get played in his preferred central striker role for a run of games, and the sheer joy if LVG crumbles in his second season.

Tom

  • Title winners – As much as I’d love to see Arsenal finally mount a serious challenge, it probably has to be Chelsea. The only slight hitch might come if 45-year-old Diego Costa (there’s no way that guy is in his mid-twenties) gets injured, as Falcao’s dodgy year in Manchester doesn’t inspire huge amounts of confidence.
  • Relegated – Leicester, as Ranieri seems a bit too all over the place; Sunderland, as they were terrible last year and I can’t see them improving; and Watford, as a promoted team has to go down, surely?
  • Player of the season – A close call between Petr Cech, who will transform the Gunners and ensure the title race is the closest in ages, and Harry Kane, who will prove he is no one-season wonder.
  • Surprise of the season – I think (and hope) that Bournemouth will bring their swashbuckling style of attacking to the top division and achieve a comfortable mid-table finish.
  • Signing of the season – As per my previous answer, Cech will prove the greatest bit of business Arsene Wenger could have hoped to do this summer, but for the sake of variation I’ll say Nathaniel Clyne. He’s a vast improvement on Glen Johnson and should bring some much needed attacking flair to Liverpool’s defence.
  • Young player of the season – If (and it’s a very big if) he stays at Everton and plays every week, John Stones will shine and cement a starting place for England at the Euros next summer. If he goes to Chelsea, he’ll be one of their standout performers in the League Cup and make about 9 league appearances (6 as a substitute).
  • Least excited about – Seeing Man United start to be good again.
  • Most excited about – Apart from seeing an Alex Mowatt and Lewis Cook-inspired Leeds finally make their return to the big time, I can’t wait to watch Arsenal‘s attacking options in full flow. Oh, and seeing a wide selection of expressions from Phil Jones.

Rich

  • Title winners: Chelsea – like a sober guest at a boozy dinner party, relentlessly banging on about kale and their new cycling helmet whilst everyone else drowns in an orgy of camembert and merlot, they have the staying power.
  • Relegated: Leicester, Norwich, Watford – Leicester had a funny old season with some amazing highs (remember the 5-3 win over Man United), but this time round I think they will be heading Championshipwards alongside Norwich and Watford, both of whom will struggle.
  • Player of the Season: Mesut Ozil – with his first proper pre-season under his belt, I’m backing the German to really shine this campaign.
  • Surprise of the Season – Bournemouth to finish in the top ten.
  • Signing of the Season: Raheem Sterling – now he’s been at the honey & lemon he’s miraculously recovered from the illness that stopped him training with Liverpool pre-season. If he can recapture his most scintillating form he’s a sure bet for a hatful of goals and assists.
  • Young player of the Season: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – his goal against Chelsea in the Community shield showed what he’s capable of. If he can stay fit and get ahead of the glut of Gunners’ midfield talent then he could really prove his worth.
  • Least excited about – The torrent of bullshit that is Transfer Deadline Day, as Jim White tries to pretend Stoke signing a 37-year-old right-back on loan from Sporting Dildo is the most exciting thing he’s ever heard.
  • Most excited about – The continuation of Brendan Rodgers’ hilarious, David Brent-esque philosophising.

Check back at the end of the season to see how wrong we were!

August 4, 2015, Posted by Tom in Books, Books, Sport

9 great sport books for autumn 2015

Not that we want to wish away summer (“summer”) or anything, but it’s time to start looking ahead to autumn. ‘Why?’, we hear you cry. Well, because that’s the time of the year where loads of great sport books come out.

There’s still a while to go for most of these, but who cares? Here are some of the big sport books for autumn 2015 that we’re already looking forward to…

sam

Big Sam: My Autobiography by Sam Allardyce

When it comes to legendary old-school Premiership managers, they don’t come much bigger (quite literally) than Big Sam Allardyce. From 20 years as a player and over 25 as a coach and a manager, this rollicking memoir should be as honest and hard-hitting as the man himself.
Hardback, 8th October, Headline, £20

 

Mourinho by Jose Mourinho

And on the opposite end of the management scale, the Chelsea boss tells his story via the medium of photography in this ‘visually sumptuous celebration’ of his incredible career. It’s the very first official book from Jose, so should be an essential purchase for Chelsea fans.
Hardback, 6th October, Headline, £20

 

geraint

The World of Cycling According to G by Geraint Thomas

Double Olympic gold medallist. Multiple world champion. Team Sky hero. When it comes to cycling, few people are as qualified to celebrate life on two wheels as Mr Thomas. And that’s exactly what he does in this funny, informative book. Top stuff.
Hardback, 29th October, Quercus, £20

 

webber

Aussie Grit: My Formula One Journey by Mark Webber

If you like watching very fast cars been driven round tracks across the globe, then you’ll love this autobiography from the legendary Australian driver. Hopefully he’ll dish some dirt on his former teammate/biggest rival, Seb Vettel, too.
Hardback, 10th September, Macmillan, £20

 

adam jones

Bomb by Adam Jones

It’s the Rugby World Cup this autumn, and one man the Welsh team will be missing is the cult hero and all-round legend Adam Jones. This is his story, going from being a normal bloke laying paving slabs in Swansea through to becoming one of only six Welshmen who’ve won three Grand Slams. Great hair too.
Hardback, 10th September, Headline £20

 

My Autobiography by Dan Carter

Another rugby legend, but this time from the other side of the planet. Dan is acknowledged as the greatest fly-half to have played international rugby and a veteran of over 100 Test matches for the All Blacks. This is him looking back on his career to date and reflecting on his unflinching loyalty to the famous black jersey. Go on, give it a TRY.
Hardback, 12th November, Headline, £20

 

Commitment by Didier Drogba

Remember when Didier Drogba scored that decisive penalty to win the Champions League for Chelsea? Awesome stuff. This autobiography from the footballing legend promises to be packed with reflections on incredible moments such as that. He’s also a genuinely good egg, having helped thousands through the Didier Drogba Foundation. Nice work, Dids.
Hardback, 5th November, Hodder & Stoughton, £20

 

Steve

My Story by Steven Gerrard

Another football legend, but this time it’s one without a collection of Premier League winner’s medals (sorry Liverpool fans, we’re just teasing). But seriously, Stevie G has dragged Liverpool and England out of many a tight spot over the years, and will go down as one of the greatest English midfielders of all time. As he starts his new adventure in the MLS, it’s a good time to reflect on his legendary career.
Hardback, 24th September, Penguin, £20

 

tuffers

Where Am I? by Phil Tufnell

Last, but certainly not least – a bit of Tuffers! The cricket/Strictly/celebrities in the jungle legend hasn’t had the most conventional career, to put it mildly. His autobiography is genuinely very funny and shows just why he’s a national treasure. God bless you, Phil.
Hardback, 27th August, Headline, £20

July 22, 2015, Posted by Tom in Books, Sport

Book News | Phil Tufnell autobiography out this August

Cricketing legend. Ballroom dancer. Question of Sport skipper. Ski jumper. Jungle king. Phil Tufnell has packed a lot of stuff into his life, so it seems only fitting that he’s chosen to write an autobiography, the excellently titled Where Am I?

Out this August following the end of the current Ashes series, Where Am I? tells Phil’s story, from the end of his cricketing days through to the crazy rollercoaster ride he has enjoyed since retiring from the game in 2003, including dining on mealworms on I’m a Celebrity, shaking those hips on Strictly Come Dancing, and tormenting poor old Sue Barker on A Question of Sport. It’s easy to understand why Tuffers has become such a national treasure, and we’re sure his hilarious story is one you won’t want to miss.

Where Am I? by Phil Tufnell will be published in hardback and ebook on August 27 2015. You can pre-order a SIGNED copy now from the good folks at Waterstones HERE.

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May 27, 2015, Posted by Tom in Books, Books, Sport

Ricky Hatton & Noel Gallagher – an extract from Vegas Tales

In this extract from his new book Vegas Tales, legendary boxer Ricky Hatton and his good mate Noel Gallagher recall being backstage at one of his many memorable bouts. We kick off with Ricky discussing his friendship with the Gallagher brothers, before Noel explains how they came to accompany him to the ring at his famous Vegas bout with Paulie Malignaggi…

We bump into each other at various functions, and whenever one or other of them are in Manchester, they’ll usually give me a call and we’ll meet up. Not both together, though, because as is well known they don’t get on these days – to be honest, they never did!

As we’re all Man City fans, we’ll meet up at the games. I was with Liam at Wembley when we won the FA Cup final against Stoke in 2011 and also at Manchester City when Sergio Aguero scored the last-minute winner that gave us the league title for the first time since 1968. I’ll never forget that day, because we ended up at the Town Hall celebrating with the team, and I’ve got a great photo of me with Liam and City captain Vincent Kompany.

Although I’m now mates with Liam and Noel, I’m still massive fans of theirs, too. So when I fought Paulie Malignaggi, I thought I’d ask them if they’d carry the belts into the ring. For me it would be a huge honour to have two of my idols with me on the ringwalk, and they jumped at the chance.

***

Noel Gallagher:

We were doing a big gig down in Cardiff at the Millennium Stadium, and Ricky came down with some of his mates. We were having a tear-up in the dressing room when he casually says: ‘I’m starting training in the next fortnight – where are you in the world on these dates . . .’

‘I dunno,’ I said, ‘I think we’re in America.’

‘Would you come and carry my belts out for my next fight?’

I was, like, ‘Fuck, yeah. If we can make it work, we’ll make it work.’

It turned out we were starting our American tour in Mexico three nights after that, so it was perfect timing. It was a great weekend.

***

On the night of the bout, I’m in the changing room, warming up, when Liam, Noel and the rest of the band come in.

We give Noel The Ring magazine belt and Liam the IBO belt.

Liam says to me: ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’

‘What do you mean what d’you do with it? When you get in the ring you just hold it up above your head.’

‘Right, no problem, Rick.’

A few minutes later, I’m doing my shadow boxing and I look across and there’s Liam standing in front of a mirror practising how he’s going to hold the belt up. I’m concentrating on the fight ahead, but I can’t help but laugh.

We’ve got Oasis tunes blaring out and Liam is getting more and more hyped up. He gets hold of my iPod and changes the song to Acquiesce, one of my favourites of theirs.

‘Hitman! This is the song we want on! Whooooo!’

Then he looks at my new coach, Floyd Mayweather, who I think is wondering who this lunatic is.

‘C’mon, Floyd! He’s going to smash his napper in!’ shouts Liam.

‘What’s a napper?’ replies Floyd.

***

Noel Gallagher:

I’ve never been backstage at a fight before. We got to the dressing room and there were loads of lads from Manchester, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, David Beckham, the guy that does the ‘Let’s get ready to rum-ble’ – he’s in there. Ricky had his iPod on and he was playing loads of Oasis.

There was a good vibe, but then you’re getting towards fight time, and I was thinking, ‘Wow, this is not my mate anymore – fucking gladiator, this lad.’ You saw him change. It went quiet and it was, like, right, ‘This is fucking show time now.’

Discover more about Ricky’s incredible career in Vegas Tales, his new book that’s out NOW in hardback and ebook

Hatton

April 13, 2015, Posted by Tom in Books, Books, Sport

New Ricky Hatton book out this May – Vegas Tales

Richard Hatton MBE, otherwise known as the legendary Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton, is one of the most successful and celebrated British boxers of all time. In May this year, he will reveal all about his five legendary Las Vegas fights in a brand new book…

Ricky Hatton’s Vegas Tales promises to lift the lid on all the memorable moments that shaped these fights, from negotiations, through trash-talking transatlantic promotional tours, gruelling training camps, bizarre encounters with opponents, fans, A-list celebrities and boxing legends; all the way to fight-week mayhem and the epic post-fight benders that followed.

Hatton

From his memorable title wins over the likes of José Luis Castillo and Juan Urango through to his epic bouts with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and his penultimate fight with Manny Pacquiao, it’ll give you the full taste of what those Las Vegas adventures were really like.

If you’re into boxing, you won’t want to miss this one.

Ricky Hatton’s Vegas Tales will be published in hardback and ebook by Headline on May 19th 2015

November 21, 2014, Posted by Richard in Books, Books, Sport

Jimmy Bullard – an extract from BEND IT LIKE BULLARD

As Jimmy Bullard charms the nation in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, here’s an exclusive look at chapter one of his book, Bend it Like Bullard

CELEBRATE EVERY GOAL AS IF IT’S YOUR LAST; DO SO BY MOCKING YOUR MANAGER AND IT PROBABLY WILL BE

 ‘Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.’ Aristotle

Why always me? Mario Balotelli may have claimed that one for himself but I reckon I could justifiably wear that T-shirt too – as long as he washed it first.

You know your mate who you can always convince to do anything for a laugh because you haven’t quite got the bottle to do it yourself? That’s me. And that’s why when my Hull team-mates and I hatched a plan to perform the goal celebration to end all goal celebrations, it was inevitable that I ended up being the focal point of the whole thing, despite it not even being my idea.

On the eve of our match away at Man City in 2009, we were having dinner together in the team hotel when Paul McShane came up with a plan.

‘If we score tomorrow, let’s rinse the gaffer by doing a celebration taking the piss out of his on-pitch team talk last season,’ he said, as my team-mates and I nodded and laughed enthusiastically. ‘Not if we’re 3-0 down, but if it’s an equalising or winning goal, whoever scores it has to do it.’

McShane was part of the Hull team who had been humiliated by our gaffer Phil Brown in the corresponding fixture the previous season. Then – playing without me obviously or it would never have happened – Hull trailed 3-0 at the break and Brownie decided to keep the players on the pitch and delivered his half-time words of wisdom to them in front of the stunned visiting supporters.

If you ask me, that was a liberty and if I’d been a Hull player then I would have walked off the pitch and gone to the toilet. A lot of my future team-mates said he lost the dressing room at that point, and that’s why they were up for a small dose of revenge. But that was Brownie – he was unpredictable and did the most ridiculous things sometimes.

For better or worse, his very public team talk became one of the most talked-about incidents of the season. What was it that Oscar Wilde said about being talked about or not being talked about? I’ve got no idea. Do you think I’ve ever read Oscar bloody Wilde?

A year later, it was me who was being talked about when, with eight minutes left and Hull trailing 1-0, we were awarded a penalty in front of thousands of our fans who had travelled to Eastlands.

Shortly before, Brownie had asked me to play further up the pitch as we tried to claw something out of the game. I’d been playing in the deepest position of our three-man midfield, but the gaffer encouraged me to get forward and try to cause a few problems for the City defence, or at least give them something else to think about.

Who knows whether it was that or just fate, but a few minutes later Kolo Touré bundled over Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and the ref Lee Probert gave us the pen. The City boys went absolutely mental, arguing with him, but I tried to shut all that out.

I just picked up the ball with only one thing on my mind – scoring and going crazy in front of our fans. I’d completely forgotten about the ‘half-time bollocking’ celebration. I stepped up and smashed the ball to Shay Given’s right to draw us level and reeled off yelling and screaming to the Hull fans.

I’d completely lost the plot, as I do whenever I score, until one of the boys reminded me about the special celebration. Within a couple of seconds, all my team-mates were sat around me in a circle while I stood in the middle, gesturing, pointing and finger-wagging at the lot of them. It was a pretty convincing impression of the gaffer even if I do say so myself.

To add to the authenticity of this performance, it was in exactly the same spot at the same end as Brown’s barmy moment the season before – Laurence bloody Olivier couldn’t have done any better.

I love scoring goals and I love celebrating them. I’d done my bit for the lads and I still wanted to do my own little piece where I run to all four corners of the ground acknow- ledging the crowd. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time for that – I once did pretty much that while I was at Peterborough and got booked for my trouble – as, for some weird reason, the referee who had so kindly given us the penalty was now insisting that we should carry on with the last eight minutes of the game.

As City kicked off again my only thought was ‘I fucking hope this stays 1-1 after that celebration! Imagine if we lost 2-1 now . . .’

Fortunately we held on. I still had to face the gaffer back in the dressing room . . . but only after I’d milked the celebrations with the away fans even more at the final whistle, naturally.

With Brownie there was no way of second-guessing how he’d react to something like that. He could either be absolutely fine and good-humoured or he could come down on you like a ton of bricks.

At City the dressing room is split into two, with an area for the coaches and all their technical equipment and a space for us to get changed. By the time I got back there, most of the boys were crowded round a laptop in the coaches’ half watching replays of my celebration. Then the gaffer walked in.

Brownie looked into the area where all the players would normally be and seemed puzzled that nobody was there, but then he looked round and saw most of us stood by one of the computers. It wouldn’t have been hard for him to spot us seeing as most of the boys were pissing themselves laughing.

‘Oh shit,’ I thought as he strode over to see what all the fuss was about.

A few of us shuffled back into our half of the room as the gaffer watched the incident.

Then it went silent.

‘Oh shit,’ I thought again.

‘Oi, Bullard,’ he yelled. ‘What have you been doing?’

I looked up and was mightily relieved to see a broad smile across his chops. He thought it was absolutely hilarious.

(As it happens, he hadn’t seen my celebration at the time. He told me later that while I was busy taking the piss out of him, he’d grabbed hold of Richard Garcia to tell him to drop deeper so we’d have a five-man midfield and keep hold of our hard-earned point.)

‘That was blinding,’ he said. ‘But that’ll be the end of that though, eh?’

Message received loud and clear.

But not before I did a post-match interview about it on Soccer Saturday in which I explained how it had come about and told the reporter, ‘Whoever scored had to do the pointing. Trust it to be me!’

The press asked the gaffer a lot of questions about it after the game as they were hoping he’d be furious with me and the boys. They’d have been disappointed with Phil’s reaction as he maintained his good-humoured way of looking at it. If anything, he felt that it exorcised the ghost of what he’d done the season before and that we could now all move on.

I wasn’t that bothered about what he felt; I was just relieved that I’d gotten away with it.

And not just that, the following day I was on the back pages of pretty much every newspaper and all over the telly. Football fans could not get enough of it – I even picked up a Nuts magazine award for the celebration despite the fact it wasn’t my idea. In reality, Paul McShane and the other lads should also have won it but I just took that one for myself, thanks very much!

Would any of the other lads have done the celebration if they’d scored? It’s hard to be sure. But it was typical that I was the person in the spotlight at that precise moment.

The truth is I’m not wired right. At least, I’m wired just a little bit differently to other people and that meant I had an absolute ball as a professional footballer. I can honestly say that not a day went past where I didn’t appreciate what it was that I was doing. Make no mistake, I lived a dream and I loved every second of it.

Unlike most other Premier League players, I grafted as a part-time footballer, cable TV technician, carpet fitter and painter-decorator while trying to get my big break. And that’s why I was so determined to take it all in, soak it all up and, most importantly, entertain for every minute I was on the pitch.

I couldn’t help but perform, whether it meant with the ball or just by acting the fool – and if that enhanced people’s enjoyment of the game then so be it.

To some players football was just a job, to me it was the realisation of a boyhood dream, of hard work, tears, tantrums and plenty more besides.

That goal celebration is one of three things that football fans always ask me about. There’s that, being on Soccer AM and my, ahem, confrontation with Duncan Ferguson.

I came. I saw. I went bonkers.

bullardBend it Like Bullard is out now! Get your copy here

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