Ex-Crystal Palace, West Ham, Birmingham City, Portsmouth and Notts County midfielder Hayden Mullins talks us through his football memories.
First football hero?
It would have to be Paul Ince. I admired him when he was at Manchester United and playing for England. With him playing in the same position as me, I always tried to emulate him. He was a tough-tackling, nononsense type of player but could also play a bit more than he was given credit for.
I also used to go down to Reading’s old ground at Elm Park quite a lot when I played for the Reading district side and they gave us free tickets. Jamie Lambert was a player who stood out for me as he was a young, tricky winger. I remember he came to our school and did a few bits with us so he’s the first player I looked up to.
First pair of boots?
That was a classic pair of Gola’s when I was about nine years old – but they were a size too big for me! They were black and I got them when I first started playing football, although I was playing a year above my age group.
I was a Spurs fan as a youngster so I had a few of them in the late 80s and early 90s. I remember my first one being given to me as a present. It was when Holsten were the sponsor and I had Paul Gascoigne on the back!
First professional game?
That was for Crystal Palace in 1998 when Terry Venables was the manager.
El Tel started me in both of the Intertoto Cup games against Turkish team Samsunspor when I was 19 – that was before the season had even started. I was so nervous the night before the first game at Selhurst Park. It was a case of just wanting to play it and get it started. When I got on to the pitch though it felt like a normal game.
Unfortunately, we lost both legs 2-0.
First professional goal?
It was a few weeks after my first start for Palace, against Birmingham City at St Andrew’s.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Dean Austin fired over a pinpoint cross straight onto my head and I nodded it home like it was the easiest thing in the world. We went on to lose the game 3-1 though!
First red card?
That’s not my greatest memory! It came away at Cambridge United in the FA Cup third round in late 1999. We were doing quite well in Division One at the time while they were struggling in Division Two but two late goals did us – and then I was sent off for two bookings about five minutes before the end.
NO-NONSENSE: Paul Ince inspired Hayden Mullins with his attitude and quality