football firsts

Ex-Crys­tal Palace, West Ham, Birm­ing­ham City, Portsmouth and Notts County midfielder Hay­den Mullins talks us through his football mem­o­ries.

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE RESULTS -

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.

First kit?

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

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