Cardiff City midfielder Joe Ralls talks us through his football memories
First game you watched live? My dad and family were all Manchester United fans, and the first one I went to was their FA Cup semi-final against Watford at Villa Park in 2007. I’d watched a bit of my local side, Aldershot, but this was the first one I could properly remember with my dad, Gary. That was when the FA Cup semi-finals were on neutral grounds and the atmosphere was buzzing, a lot more compared to now. First football hero? As a central midfielder, Paul Scholes was always the man for me growing up. You look at the top midfielders, and the way he played was just full of quality. He always wanted to get on the ball and the game went through him. It’s something I tried to replicate when I was younger, and I think all midfielders are the same. You want to be on the ball as often as possible. First football boots? I can’t remember the exact pair, but I used to wear Predators and they were the ones I first recall. They were great. They had an elastic tongue and the black, red and white ones were a nice colour combination. I’d still wear them now if I could get away with it! First football kit? I played with Aldershot when I was younger, so I had a lot of kit from them, but the first major one was again Manchester United. They had some savage kits back then, some really horrific ones, and there are some pictures of me in one of their shocking green tops! First professional game? You never forget your first game. Malky (Mackay) had just come in at Cardiff, and he got a few of the young lads involved in a League Cup game away at Oxford. We’d only trained with the first team the day before, and I came on, with squad No.52 and played the last quarter – as well as extra time – in a game we eventually won. That was a springboard for me. First professional goal? I scored in my first league game, Hull away in 2011, and I’d just signed a professional contract the day before, so I was buzzing. Kenny Miller got injured in the opening ten minutes so I came off the bench early on and scored what’s probably the best goal of my career so far. The ball came forward from David Marshall, our keeper, and it dropped nicely about 30 yards out. I hit it with instinct and it flew in. Sometimes those are the best ones, where you don’t have time to think and you just do it. First red card? My first red card didn’t come for a couple of years, but in some ways it was worth the wait. We were away at Reading, going along nicely 1-0 up until defender Byron Webster got sent off. That forced us into a reshuffle, and I had to go from centre midfield into leftback, which really
didn’t suit me! I got skinned a couple of times, then decided to nail the guy. I was a little bit late and got a straight red for it. That was the second red card out of three we had in the game, and we still managed to get a point away from home!
HERO: Manchester United’s Paul Scholes