Football Firsts: Oldham winger Mark Yeates

First game you watched live?

The first one I remember is an international game – I went to watch Ireland against Russia at Landsdowne when I was about eight or nine. I would have seen my dad Stephen play in the League of Ireland from about four or five. He played for Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers and was a very good footballer. Unfortunately he passed away when I was 17 and playing at Tottenham.

First football hero?

My dad would fall into that bracket but my absolute hero was always Maradona. He is the best player who has ever played and I loved watching clips of him. That goal against England is one that people remember but some of the goals he scored at Napoli were scandalous.

First pair of boots?

I had a pair of Pumas with Maradona’s name on them as a kid. I played football from age five so it would have been around then. Later, when I signed with Tottenham, I always wore Nikes and the Vapors were nice when they came out.

First kit?

I’m a Liverpool fan so it would have been one of theirs. Being Irish, you always get a Celtic kit thrown at you as a kid, too! If I ever had a number on the back, it would have been ten.

First professional game?

That was on loan at Brighton from Tottenham when I was 18. It was great for me – I had my mum Rhonda and granddad Tony come over but we got beaten 4-1 by Bristol City at home. I was a bit worried I wasn’t going to stay in the team! Coming from reserve football, it was a big step. It was very physical and it wasn’t a nice feeling getting beat.

First professional goal?

I didn’t score for Brighton but I did on loan at Colchester a couple of seasons later. It was in the FA Cup, when we played Leamington Spa and ended up beating them 9-1 and I nicked one. That season we got promoted and I got a few goals. It was a good learning experience and getting promoted in any league is brilliant.

First red card?

Luckily, I have never been sent off but I don’t think that would surprise many people – I don’t know how to tackle! I have got plenty of yellow cards for chirping at referees, though, and I have been pulled aside quite a bit to be told to shut up but I’ve never gone in for a nasty challenge.­

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