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. 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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