For­mer Black­pool and Le­ices­ter City mid­fielder Richie Wel­lens talks us through his foot­ball mem­o­ries

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO PLAY-OFF PREVIEW -

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

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