The local lad celebrates the big five-oh today, so what better occasion to dive into the story of his football life. The ex-defender spoke to United Review last year and gave us this warts-and-all account of his career, from bagging up mud at Blackburn to conquering the world with the Reds...
I remember playing for my school, Boarshaw County Primary School in Middleton, probably at eight or nine. My first pair of boots looked like adidas but they had four stripes! I remember having to put the goals up - no netting, just frames - and the games were a little bit of kick-and-rush back then. I started at left-back, then centre-half, goalkeeper, midfield... I played all the positions. Let's say I was a utility player!
Becoming a player
I was 14 at the time, playing for my town team, Rochdale, when I got spotted by Ted Taylor, who was a scout for Blackburn. He asked me to go for trials at Blackburn. We played on the pitch at Ewood Park against Formby, and I actually scraped the mud and grass off my boots afterwards and kept it all in a bag for a couple of years, because I thought I'd never get the chance to play on a professional pitch again! I really relished the opportunity to make my first appearance on a proper pitch, even though I shouldn't actually have played. It was open age but it was for 15s and over, and I was 14. Anyway, I played and scored what turned out to be the winner. It was a little bit of a near-post shank, but I didn't care.