Former Blackpool and Leicester City midfielder Richie Wellens talks us through his football memories
First match watched live? I think it was the 1985 FA Cup final between Manchester United and Everton. Norman Whiteside scored the winner and United won 1-0. It is a long time ago! I was five or six. I only remember a few things, like Kevin Moran being the first player to be sent off in a Cup final. I was a United fan when I was a young lad and we went to the old Wembley a few times. I have seen some great times. I joined them when I was nine and you used to get free tickets to every game. It was the norm. I took it for granted. First football hero? Bryan Robson was my hero as a kid because he just carried the team. United were not great then. I also grew up in the Paul Gascoigne era and I was only ten when the 1990 World Cup was on. The third hero was Paul Scholes. I got to watch him first hand and even train with him sometimes. To be so close to him was a joy – he was the best midfielder in Europe. I will never understand why he was on the left wing for England. He had everything.He was such a classy player. You try to pick things up, but when he was so good it was difficult! First boots? That is a long time ago. I don’t remember the first pair, but I had some Adidas Predators when David Beckham
had them and you could supposedly hit the ball harder. It was always football for me. I spent so many hours playing the game as a little boy until United called. From there, we trained twice a week. Brian Kidd and Nobby Stiles used to take us for training. Great times. First kit? It was a United one, but I can’t remember which one! It had Umbro branding. We did not get them from the club. My parents used to buy them for me. I have some treasured shirts in the house, but I am not one for putting them on the walls or getting them out. I don’t really look at them. First game? My debut was my only game for Manchester United, away at Aston Villa in the League Cup. Sir Alex Ferguson used it to give debuts to young players and the crowd were singing ‘You have school in the morning’. Villa had a good side then and it was a wonderful experience. It was normal when I was told to get ready. I grew up there and it was natural. That is what set United apart. I went to Blackpool shortly after, though. First goal? It was away at Torquay for Blackpool, but I don’t actually remember it! It was in 2000, so it was a long time ago. I scored a goal from halfway for Blackpool and that really sticks out. It was better than David Beckham’s because it was on the half-volley! First red card? I have had a few! I have had ten in my career and the first was for Blackpool against Oldham. It was a professional foul when someone went past me. It was a booking really. Ten red cards sounds a lot, but I played nearly 700 games so it is one every 70 games. It’s not bad, and the game is a lot softer now, so I am sticking to my guns.
FIRST HERO: Man United’s Bryan Robson