OUR FRENCH FULL-BACK KO'D HIS WINGER ON THE PITCH!

The Football League Paper - - GOOD BAD & UGLY: GLEN LITTLE - By Jake Evans

HE’S BEEN a men­ace down the right wing, ter­ror­is­ing full-backs for 20 years and at the age of 38, he still loves his foot­ball enough to be turn­ing out for Grays Ath­letic in the Ryman Premier.

Glen Lit­tle’s sheer love and pas­sion for the game is in­spir­ing for many young kids look­ing to make a big step in foot­ball. His loy­alty to the clubs he has played for has been un­ques­tion­able.

Be­gin­ning his ca­reer at Crys­tal Palace at the age of nine, Lit­tle ex­celled through the ranks only to be knocked back at the fi­nal hur­dle.

But after a suc­cess­ful year at Ir­ish club Glen­toran, he went on to have eight years with Burn­ley be­fore mov­ing to Read­ing where he topped the as­sist charts in the 2005-06 sea­son – the same year cham­pi­ons Read­ing broke the Cham­pi­onship points record with 106.

Lit­tle will be re­mem­bered for his re­la­tion­ship with each of his clubs’ fans, who ap­pre­ci­ated his whole­hearted ap­proach and that he was a con­stant night­mare for de­fend­ers through­out the English game.

FIRST CLUB

I grew up in Wim­ble­don, join­ing Crys­tal Palace at the age of nine. It was a shame I was not able to break through into the first team be­cause I was a lo­cal boy and Palace were my team.

I had been there for ten years, but un­for­tu­nately I didn’t make it and had to leave. I’d been to the Repub­lic of Ire­land on loan at Derry City for a month, and when I came back and was re­leased by Palace, Glen­toran – from North­ern Ire­land – of­fered me a deal, so I swapped Ir­ish leagues.

I had a great time there. We won the Ir­ish cup against Glanavon and I scored the win­ner, which got us in to Europe.

BEST MAN­AGER

I was al­ways quite a loyal player but I’ve ended up hav­ing quite a few man­agers. The man­agers I played un­der for the most of my ca­reer were Stan Ter­nent and Steve Cop­pell, but with what hap­pened at Read­ing, get­ting to the Premier League and hav­ing the record-break­ing sea­son in the Cham­pi­onship, Cop­pell shaves it.

He was the man­ager at Crys­tal Palace when I was nine as well. I was a Manch­ester United fan, so be­cause Steve was a right winger and played for them he was my favourite player. I didn’t play un­der him at Palace but I did end up play­ing for him ten years later at Read­ing.

BEST TEAM-MATE

The best player I played with was at Portsmouth, Las­sana Diarra. At Pom­pey, we had a lot of good in­ter­na­tional play­ers, but mid­fielder Diarra played for clubs like Chelsea and Arse­nal then moved to Real Madrid for £20m, so I would have to say he was the best.

FAVOURITE PLACE TO GO

Be­ing a Manch­ester United fan it was great to fi­nally play at Old Traf­ford. I waited a long time be­cause I was mostly in the lower leagues.

I ac­tu­ally played against them in the Cup for Burn­ley at Turf Moor, but to fi­nally get to the Premier League with Read­ing and play against them at Old Traf­ford was great.The dream was to play for them but the next best thing is play­ing against them.

FUN­NI­EST PLAYER

There is a say­ing in foot­ball that I am the fun­ni­est man in foot­ball. That’s what my team-mates used to say, so I would have to say my­self.

FUN­NI­EST IN­CI­DENT

I re­mem­ber Gra­ham Stack at Read­ing got up to a lot of mis­chief but I al­ways re­mem­ber my very first game for Derry City.

We had a French full-back and I was only 19 at the time. Half­way through the game, the fella got tack­led, picked him­self up and punched their left winger, knock­ing him clean out on the pitch.

I don’t know whether it was funny, but I’ve never come across any­thing like that in my ca­reer.

TOUGH­EST PLACE TO GO TO

In the Premier League you look at the likes of Stam­ford Bridge and Old Traf­ford, and they’re tough places to go be­cause of the qual­ity of the teams you’re play­ing against.

But from early in my Burn­ley days, when we were in the lower leagues, the old Ch­ester­field ground, Sal­ter­gate, was a hor­ri­ble place.

With Burn­ley, we had a ter­ri­ble record there, we never won. The chang­ing rooms were aw­ful and the way Ch­ester­field played with the long ball made them very dif­fi­cult to play against. They’ve got a much nicer sta­dium now.

TOUGH­EST OP­PO­NENT

Ash­ley Cole and Gael Clichy. The game I played against Gael Clichy at the Emi­rates, I hardly got out of my own half.

You’re sup­posed to be play­ing right wing but you spend 90 per cent of the game at right-back. At the time I was suf­fer­ing with my Achilles. If you have a dodgy Achilles, you don’t want to be chas­ing Gael Clichy up and down the wing for 90 min­utes.

LOW­EST MO­MENT

The Achilles in­jury put me out for a year, which was hard for me to take. I al­ways had my fair share of in­juries but I had never picked up any­thing se­ri­ous un­til then.

I must have had about 42 ham­string in­juries through­out my ca­reer but you’re only out for two or three weeks at a time, so you only miss a few games and then you’re back so it doesn’t re­ally af­fect your sea­son.

To fi­nally get to the Premier League and for ev­ery­thing to be go­ing so well, I was in top form, ab­so­lutely fly­ing and we were sev­enth in the league. To then have that taken away was harsh.

When you are younger you can miss a sea­son and still have a chance to come back into the Prem and have another six or seven years. But to get that in­jury at 31, the men­tal side of it was hor­ri­ble.

What made it worse was at the end of the sea­son, when I came back, we got rel­e­gated. It was a tough time all round.

BIG­GEST ACHIEVE­MENT

Win­ning the Cham­pi­onship with the record num­ber of points at Read­ing.We lost the first game of the sea­son, then went 33 games un­beaten and stormed the league. Those 106 points is still the record. It will be very tough to beat and it should stand for quite a long time.

The Cham­pi­onship is a tough league so to get that num­ber of points was a great achieve­ment for the club. I was play­ing well and we had such a strong team.

GREAT­EST GOAL

I scored a goal for Burn­ley against Bris­tol Rovers mid­way through the 1999-2000 sea­son when we were down to ten men be­cause Andy Pay­ton had got sent off after hal­fan-hour. I picked the ball up in the cen­tre cir­cle, beat three or

four play­ers and chipped the keeper to fin­ish it off.

I re­mem­ber chip­ping the keeper for Read­ing as well, in a sim­i­lar way to the one for Weald­stone at Dul­wich Ham­let last sea­son that went vi­ral – only I didn’t run 60 yards, I only ran about five!

In terms of a goal at any level, that Weald­stone goal could be the best – the Daily Mail asked if it was the great­est Non-League goal of all-time.

AM­BI­TION

I had a great time at Weald­stone last year, win­ning the Ryman Premier and pro­mo­tion into Con­fer­ence South after a cou­ple of years at Wrex­ham.

I’d agreed to join Hey­bridge Swifts for this year but the man­ager, Jody Brown, is a good friend of mine so when he left to take over at Grays Ath­letic, I thought I would move with him and try to help him.

So far so good, we have lots of new play­ers. They fin­ished 15th last sea­son so we are try­ing to im­prove. I’ll play this sea­son and see what hap­pens.

In my mind it’s my last sea­son, but if all goes well I might get to the end of the cam­paign and think ‘Let’s go again’.

I saw a quote from New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter-back Tom Brady the other day. He was asked when he was go­ing to re­tire and said, “When I suck”.

I’ve al­ways used that line but the S word is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. When I’m s**t, I’ll give up.

When you love play­ing as much as I do, you’re still con­cen­trat­ing on the game. If the time comes when I’m the worst player on the pitch, then it might be time to think about go­ing into coach­ing or be­hind the scenes.

Big­gest achieve­ment: Read­ing pro­mo­tion

Best team-mate: Las­sana Diarra Tough­est place to go: Sal­ter­gate, Ch­ester­field Tough­est op­po­nent: Gael Clichy Best man­ager: Steve Cop­pell

Great­est goal

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.