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Football Firsts: Luke Varney – Cheltenham Town

The Robins striker talks us through his football memories…


FLP: First game you watched live?

LV: It was Leicester City versus Manchester City back at Filbert Street. Luckily when I was at Leicester you got to be a ball boy and that was the first match I went to. I lived just five miles away from the ground as I was born in Leicester, so it was a dream.

Uwe Rösler was doing shooting practice and I went in goal for a few penalties. I didn’t save many though! We got beat but it was massive eye-opener for me. I really got the bug for football after that!

First football hero?

Ian Wright. He came from a similar football upbringing as me as he played in Non-League and went on to play at the highest level. Did you know you can back your current football hero across the markets with Betway online sports betting. My hero Wright led me to end up following Arsenal because of him. He was also a striker and played for England.

First football boots?

I always had Adidas Predators and I had blond streaks in my hair like David Beckham as well. I used to think I was like him when I started! When I look back at some of my pictures playing for Quorn, they were my first pair of boots. I wore Preds even when I started playing for Charlton. I wore them for a good five or six years until I ended up getting a deal with Nike.

First kit?

It was probably a blue Leicester kit with Walkers Crisps on the front. I must have been nine or 10 at the time. Once I started playing, they were the team that I supported.

First professional game?

I honestly never thought I would play in the Football League having been at Quorn, so it was a dream come true when I did. I made my debut for Crewe at Selhurst Park in 2003 and I got my first goal there as well a few months later. Betway offer odds on Crewe and the rest of League Two and across the EFL. I came off the bench and we lost 3-1 to Wimbledon, back when they were sharing there with Crystal Palace. I was at Quorn for three years, so I was playing men’s football at a really young age which really helped me.

First professional goal?

Back at Selhurst Park, I scored 15 minutes into my first start against Palace. I will never forget it as I slid on my knees to celebrate in front of the main stand. Dario Gradi went mad at me saying ‘Don’t do that again, celebrate with our fans!’. I said ‘I thought they were’ and he just looked at me. It was a good goal as well. Kenny Lunt slid me through from about the halfway line, I waited for the keeper to go down and dinked it over him so I was really pleased with that one.

First red card?

That was against Hull when I was at Portsmouth in 2011. I took a big touch and I was committed to the tackle. James Chester is not shy of a tackle, so I thought ‘I have got to go in for this’ but I mistimed it. I put it down to being a striker’s tackle. I used to get a good deal of bookings but had not got a red before that so I was a bit gutted to be honest.

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