I grew up with my mum; Linda and my dad; Barry in Leyton, East London. I’m
one of four brothers, the eldest, Martin is presently both a car dealer and the
player-manager of Bishop Stortford. Kevin works in the City for the Toyko Bank,
and Lee is a schoolboy in Southend.
With having a professional in the family, football has always been in my blood.
I was born in the same year that Martin joined Arsenal and Arsenal were the
club I followed. I went to Barclay Junior School in Leyton and represented the
school team as captain. As I got older I moved on to Norlington Secondary School
where I continued to make progress with my football. I played for Walford Forest
and at the age of 12, Wimbledon expressed an interest in signing me. However
I had also promised to play for Redbridge – who played in a Sunday league,
and Wimbledon wouldn’t allow it.
At the same time Norwich, who had two scouts based in the South also contacted
me. I decided to take a look at the facilities and club, and spent some time
up in Norwich during the school holidays. I was impressed, the facilities were
good, the people were friendly and relaxed. The club offered me a two-year schoolboy
contract and I had little hesitation in signing. A number of group I joined
with has since played first team football or are still in the game with other
clubs; Jason Shackell (Norwich), Roy Massey, Ian Henderson. Whilst on schoolboy
forms the family moved out of London and into Wickford in Essex where I joined
Bromfords School. As well as the school team, I also turned out for the Basildon
and Brentwood district team – in addition to Norwich.
Although I’d have liked to have made more progress during my Norwich
career, I did make a number of youth team appearances whilst I was still at
school and Bryan Hamilton, the Norwich manager at the time had one or two good
things to say about me.
I signed a three year YT contract in August 2000, and made a number of youth
team appearances that season. However, Nigel Worthington came in and replaced
Hamilton in December 2000 and obviously had a different opinion of me.
Next Part: Life as a Pro