(Photo: Action Images)
I grew up in Dundee and the first match I remember going to watch was the big derby between Dundee and Dundee United. I used to alternate between the two clubs each week, so there was always a game to watch, but I probably preferred United. When I was about ten, we moved to Wales and from there I supported Manchester United.
Growing up, I used to like centre-backs and people like Terry Butcher were my first heroes. He was a natural leader, strong and aggressive and could play a bit, too. The image of him with the blood coming from his head in Italia ’90 was iconic. I liked Tony Adams, too, and I used to watch how they did certain things and copy them – though not quite to the same level! Most of my friends wanted to be strikers, but I was always a defender.
It might have been a pair of Umbro Speciali boots. They were the first proper pair, anyway. When I was younger, I obviously had a lot of plastic pairs my mum and dad bought for me – like I do for my son now! But the Umbros were the first and they were a good pair.
The first kit I owned was either a Dundee United kit or an Aberdeen one. I remember really liking one at the time. As a player, I never really collected shirts or swapped them with the opposition. There are only a few games where I did. I remember, at Notts County, we played Chelsea and I swapped with Wayne Bridge. Also, against Middlesbrough I got a Gareth Southgate one because he was a centre-half that I had always respected.
It was a poignant one for me because it was for Manchester City against Notts County in a League Cup game back in 1998. We won 7-1 at Maine Road and I went on to play for four years at County when I left City. So, when I look back, it was quite a big thing. Joe Royle was the manager and he was fantastic with me. I played 19 games that season and that did a lot for my confidence. I was very excited before the first one – like a kid at Christmas.
That was on my home debut for Notts County against Wycombe Wanderers in October 1999. It’s funny because I am the physio at Burton now, and the goalkeeper coach, Martin Taylor, was in goal that day, so I tease him a lot! I just poked it in from close range as it was bobbling about in the box. I always liked scoring and got 37 in my career, so I think I did pretty well. Most of those were headers from set-pieces. My tally is comparable with some centre- forwards I know!
First red card?
My first red card was for Notts County against Northampton Town in 2002 and I remember I was ill all week and probably should not have been playing. It was a Tuesday night and it was a challenge I should not have been going for. I was frustrated and got sent off…