Last Updated: 14 June 2023, Author: AceOdds.com

Alan Brazil Interview

  1. You've stepped back from five mornings a week to two on talkSPORT. Have you been finding your spare time? And have you picked up any new hobbies?
  2. Former Arsenal defender Gilles Grimandi recently joked that he feared for his life during a boozing session with your pal Ray Parlour. Have there been any big drinking sessions you had during in your playing days that stand out?
  3. Ray recently told us he'd love to sink pints with Gabriel Jesus. Is there a current football or manager that you'd love to sit down and have a glass of wine with?
  4. Is there any current Premier League managers you think you get on with?
  5. With Cheltenham coming up next week, where do you rank it as a sporting spectacle?
  6. Do you prefer Cheltenham to the Grand National?
  7. Any tips for the Gold Cup this year?
  8. Any other horses you're keeping an eye on?
  9. Can you tell us a little bit about the Alan Brazil Racing Club? How did you get into horse racing in the first place?
  10. Do you think Cheltenham is as accessible as it used to be?
  11. So, based on what you've just said, do you think horse racing is the most exciting way to win money?
  12. Onto the football, obviously, we've just had an absolutely mad weekend in the Premier League, so I just wanted to get your thoughts on a few key games...
  13. First up, Arsenal v Bournemouth. Do you think it's inevitable the Gunners go on to win the title now?
  14. Liverpool beating Man United 7-0 was probably the shock of the weekend. From a Liverpool standpoint, do you think this is a clear indication that they're going to grab top four?
  15. From a Manchester United perspective: do you think this will affect them going forward, or would you just put it down to a blip?
  16. Speaking of Bruno, what did you make of his captains performance at the time? What do you think went wrong?
  17. What did you make of Ten Hag's comments that Anfield is just like any other stadium before the game? Do you think that spurred Liverpool on?
  18. You're a former Manchester United player yourself. How do you think the game against Liverpool compares to th derby against Manchester City.
  19. Everton failed to beat Nottingham Forrest on Sunday, their next four games are against Brentford, Chelsea, Tottenham and Man United. Do you think they're in serious trouble of going down this year?
  20. If you had to make a call for the bottom three, who would you say?
  21. Tottenham are having a very stop-start season. Do you think they'll eventually come good? Or is it Antonio Conte that's the problem at the minute?
  22. You went from Tottenham to Man United yourself, do you not think that could potentially be a good move for Harry Kane?
  23. So you've mentioned Spurs midfield being the problem at the minute, back in your playing days, you played along the likes of Glenn Hoddle and Ossie Ardiles, two absolutely fantastic midfielders. What was it like to play with them?
  24. Just a few questions on your playing days at Ipswich Town, a massive part of your career and you were part of the team that won the UEFA Cup. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience and what it meant for you and the team at the time?
  25. Unfortunately, the team has struggled a bit in recent years, they're in League one at the moment. What do you think the club need to do in order to return to its former glory?
  26. Onto the Champions League, who do you think will lift the trophy in Istanbul this year?
  27. Do you think it's completely over for Liverpool after that Madrid tie?
  28. And your boyhood club, Celtic, comfortably sitting top of the table, having won the League Cup. Do you fancy them for the treble this year?
  29. So where do you rank Ange Postecoglou in terms of other title-winning Celtic managers?
  30. What do you think Scottish teams need in order to be able to start competing in the Champions League again?
  31. So, on that note, do you think it's feasible to blend the entire Scottish division into the English one?
  32. On the Scottish national team. They've struggled to qualify for major tournaments in recent years. In your opinion, what do you think the team needs to do in order to start competing at the highest level again?
  33. As you've just mentioned Scottish superstars, there have been some fantastic players over the years, from Kenny Daglish, Dennis Law, Graham Souness. Who do you think was the greatest player in the history of the Scottish national team, and why?
  34. On VAR, since its introduction, refereeing decisions are still a big talking point. So has anything changed in your mind?
  35. Obviously, you've been a pundit for many, many years. Do you think all we seem to do now is talk about these controversial decisions?
  36. Just a few questions about your playing days... Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as a professional footballer?
  37. You've had a fantastic career as a player. Is there any advice you'd give to young footballers starting out in the sport today?
  38. Your career was sadly cut short and you've since become a radio presenter and a pundit. How did you find the transition from playing football to working in the media, and what do you enjoy most about your current role?
  39. Did you ever consider going as a management at the time?
  40. You'd only received one yellow card in your career. Do you think you'll have pick up a lot more if you were playing today?
  41. If you had to pick a five or side team, of all the players you played with, who are you going for?
  42. Would you not play yourself in this scenario?

Interview with Alan Brazil

Hot off the heels from our interview with Ray Parlour, in our next video we speak with Alan Brazil. During his playing days Alan played for Ipswich Town, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and internationally for Scotland. Most recently he is known for his time as breakfast presenter on Talk Sport. As well as being a famous footballer and talk show host, Alan is a horse racing fanatic and can be often seen at Cheltenham. Find out about his tips for the Gold Cup, the Alan Brazil Racing Club and his thoughts on how the English Premier League is going so far.

You've stepped back from five mornings a week to two on talkSPORT. Have you been finding your spare time? And have you picked up any new hobbies?

Hobbies? Not really. It's a big difference, five days to two. Although I do the odd three, last week, I did Wednesday as well. There's a few more coming up.

My contract is up soon, and they're talking about, "what do you want to do? Do you want to do more?" At the moment, the balls are in the air, so I'll certainly be doing two days a week, but there's a chance it may be three. I wouldn't have thought any more than three, though.

But I'll be doing long festivals like Royal Ascot, i'll be doing Glorious Goodwood, i'll be doing Cheltenham, which I can't wait for. So I'm plenty busy, to be honest. It's great.

Former Arsenal defender Gilles Grimandi recently joked that he feared for his life during a boozing session with your pal Ray Parlour. Have there been any big drinking sessions you had during in your playing days that stand out?

Well, there was, yeah, because football was so different in those days that I would suggest that most clubs had drinkers and social guys in the team, and that was the norm in those days.

Nowadays, we get so many many foreign players come over, they don't drink as much. They might have a smoke, but they don't drink as much. So I don't know what's worse for you, to be honest.

But, yeah, there was a few at Spurs, there was a few at Manchester United. Fergie come in and stopped that, or put a halt to most of it.

But you're training every day, I suppose it's best not to drink than drink, but when you're training every day, then you're sweating out. In those days, there was no fancy wines or champagne, to be honest, it was beer or Guinness. You used to sweat that off.

So I don't really look into that and I've said all along that if it was that bad for us in those days, we ruled Europe in the 80s. Ruled it with the teams, right? And you tell me the foreign teams, like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern, they weren't drinkers in those days? They had their own routine, which they're still doing now.

So again, I take it with pinch of salt. If I had my choice, again, I probably wouldn't drink. But when things are going wrong and things are going rough like so many sitting bottom sitting of the table in the Premier League, maybe now and again you have to get them all out together and have a session. Get a few things off people's chest because when they have a couple of drinks they will tell you the truth.

Ray recently told us he'd love to sink pints with Gabriel Jesus. Is there a current football or manager that you'd love to sit down and have a glass of wine with?

Well, I'll see Fergie at Cheltenham soon next week.

There's no doubt he's invited [Ally] McCoist, myself, to go and have a couple of glasses with Jed Mason, one of the prominent owners who's got great chances next week.

So I look forward to that, as always, to go and have a drink with Sir Alex, who's just a wealth of wisdom and knowledge. That it's something I really look forward to.

And also, when we finish radio, we come off at ten, it's straight to the old Guinness village and there's a host of ex-sportsmen. Mike Tindall, loads of guys, footballers, all congregate there and it's brilliant to see old friends again and have a couple of pints with them.

Is there any current Premier League managers you think you get on with?

Yes, I do. I think I could get on with Pep [Guardiola]. I think I get on with Jurgen [Klopp]. I think there's a lot I could get on with no problem.

You know, I'd listen, I wouldn't be talking too much. I'd listen and wait, because the game has changed, there's no doubt about it. So I wouldn't be talking like I do on radio but I'd love to listen, to hear what they have to say and give an input.

With Cheltenham coming up next week, where do you rank it as a sporting spectacle?

What's one of the best, to be honest. Don't get me wrong, it's tough for Ray [Parlour] and I because, we'll do radio, although I'll do radio five days a week. Ray, I think, is doing two. Then we always meet a few people afterwards. And then we do charity lunches and visit a few boxes and stuff like that.

So come Thursday/Friday, I promise you, you're counting the hours down because it really is a tough gig. Royal Ascot is another one, which is a beauty.

I do wish the first race was around 10:30/11:00AM, because when you got to wait to 2 o'clock, which is a fair old wait, what do you do? Do you go down the village, the clothing village, and buy a few things, or do you just head to the Guinness village?

Do you prefer Cheltenham to the Grand National?

The National is great. I've been to Cheltenham a lot more than the national. I've been to the National a couple of times, which is a great occasion, it really is.

I just don't go so much, to be honest. I think it's because we don't broadcast from there. But as we do sometimes, the Scottish National from Ayr, and they make us most welcome, they really do. That's a great weekend.

But I think I might struggle this weekend because I've got something on the Friday afternoon. We really need to be up there Thursday night, so it could be Mr McCoist and one other and me in London in the studio this year.

Any tips for the Gold Cup this year?

For the Gold Cup, I think Galopin Des Champs. I made a little few notes and I've listened to a lot of people, I've watched a lot of the tipsters on the phone and on tele and the Racing Post, et cetera. I just think the Gold Cup is very wide open.

So Galopin Des Champs, who won the Irish Gold Cup. I was reading, it was interesting, Patrick Mullins was saying that now, after that fall, he really respects his fences, but as before, he'd just fly at them. So if he jumps clear and jumps a clear round, then I think he takes all the beaten.

But I've also had a bet on Protektorat each way. They tell me since Dan Skelton has had him, that they feel they've improved the horse immensely by a few lengths.

So if he was to jump round as well, then I think he'd be a good each way bet. I believe he's come down from 20/1 down to 12/1 or 14/1, so he might be a squeak each way.

Any other horses you're keeping an eye on?

Yes. For the Triumph Hurlde on Friday, I think I'm a big fan of Lossiemouth from the Mullins yard.

What else do I fancy? I'm looking forward to watching Shishkin. I'm looking forward to seeing Nicky with Shishkin. Jonbon, I fancy John Bonn on the tuesday. The tuesday is a great day's race. It is. It's fantastic. I'm going to back Jonbon in the Arkle [Chase].

And I think one of my best bets of the whole meeting will be the Wednesday: Edwardstone. Who's actually owned by a couple of guys out in the Suffolk villages. My local pub, this lovely pub called the The Crown Stoke-By-Nayland, they visit in there every now and again, and their village is only a few miles away.

So Edwardstone, who's won it once or twice at Cheltenham. He might be just where I save up for him, smash into him on Wednesday.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Alan Brazil Racing Club? How did you get into horse racing in the first place?

Well, the racing club, that was a while ago and then we decided to have some flat runners, but it was all new to me and, of course, we plan to have four horses and we ended up having like nearly 20. That was a big mistake.

We had a few hundred members, who were great. We had some winners and we had great days down at the races.

But it was mathematics, really. The more horses you had, you had to keep progressing your numbers and we didn't do that. So that all ended up folding.

But I'm now involved with a fantastic setup called Newsells. If you look at the sales and all the tat sales, Newsells sell more falls and yearlings, especially yearlings, to the tats than any other stud in Europe.

The man who owns it is a lovely guy, a big spurs fan, guy called Graham Smith-Burnell, and he got me invited. He got Ossie Ardiles invited first, then he got me invited. We're in our second syndicate there.

There's a lovely sprinter. I would definitely say to people, keep an eye on, his name is Manaccan. I think he was a top-rated three-year-old sprinter last year. He's now back in work and he's doing a little bit faster work.

He's a beautiful horse, he gives his all every time and he could end up at the Royal Ascot at one of the big sprints and he could end up winning for us. I think he's won over £100 grand in prize money so far. He's a lovely, lovely horse.

So I would remember that it's Newsells racing. You can look at the stud and there's 1250 acres. It is just adorable down there, it's between Newmarket and Ousden. I do a lot of help with them down there, it's a great day out.

Some of our trainers are brilliant. Roger Varian, what a nice man. Mark Johnson, John Gosden, William Haggis. We've also got Richard Hannon coming on board this year.

A big special mention to John Ryan. I knew his old man very well, and John Ryan actually trains Manaccan and a couple of others for Graham and he's doing a fantastic job. He's not the biggest name in the sport, whereas some of the names I just mentioned, you don't get any bigger. But he's done a brilliant job for Newsells.

Do you think Cheltenham is as accessible as it used to be?

The only problem with Cheltenham is sometimes is getting home afterwards. For the punters on trains, it's not an easy journey. But getting there, everyone's just full of life, full expectation, where they drive down, take a coach, come in the helicopter.

There's so many ways to get to Cheltenham, but once you're there, it is really special and wonderful. It does help, I'm not going to lie to you, if you've got corporate. We work with bookmakers and we're always guests in different boxes. Ray, I, Ally McCoist, people like that. And we have a wonderful time, so we have it lucky, there's no doubt about it.

If you do a bit of corporate work in the afternoons, you're down at the last fence, which is again, so enjoyable.

With the normal punter, as long as you know where you're going, you can get a few pints, you can get to the bar, there's so many bars now and there's so many little restaurants.

Corporate, it's typical, it's expensive, but you don't need to go the full hog. You can still go there and have a sandwich and have a couple of pints and have a great time. So Cheltenham is special, there's no doubt about it.

When I get there, we go to Jonjo O'Neill's Jackdaws Castle on the Monday, which is just sensational. I was just bringing a story to you... last year, which probably won't happen again, Jackdaws Castle is magnificent. It's owned by J. P. McManus.

JP was there last year, first time that I've seen him there. We were finishing our broadcast and he just looked at me and he winked. He says, "you back your horse tomorrow?" And I went, what horse? He said, "your horse. You're backing it tomorrow?"

I went, this is for the Tuesday? I said I haven't got one running. He said "have a look", and winked and walked off.

So I looked at the card and it was one of JP's. It was called Brazil, with JP's colours. So the next morning on radio, I tell everyone. Then I go to the corporate hospitality, tell them all. Well, it only wins a shorthead 14/1.

It took me three and a half hours to get a channel. People were just jumping on me, diving on me. I've never known like it in my life. I'd love to say I could repeat that this year, but I doubt it.

We go there on Monday, and then Tuesday we're in the main grandstand on the winning line with Coral. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Come the Friday you're cream crackered, you've had it, you just want to go home. I always stay in Broadway, which is one of the most picturesque and beautiful villages in the whole of England. That's where we stay. The famous Lygon Arms is there and it's wonderful.

So I can't wait, but honestly, on Saturday morning you wake up, you think you've been there a month.

So, based on what you've just said, do you think horse racing is the most exciting way to win money?

Well, it is. You've got to be careful that you don't get carried away. When you have a bet and you have a few drinks, you know, it's very easy to say, "I'll get it back, I'll get it back". You gotta have a little plan and you gotta have a budget every day. If you're going there the whole week.

I am certainly not in the Government's camp when it comes to stopping people having a bet and some of the bookmakers now restricting you.

Your mother can't hold your hand all your life. You've got to be an adult, you've got to be grown up, you got to say to yourself, "that's my budget and when I run out, I run out."

Don't go chasing and that is the key. Don't chase your money because then you don't enjoy it as much.

And if you're lucky to have a win, don't go mad. Take your winnings, don't try and treble and quadruple them. Take a profit each day if you can, if you're lucky enough.

Because Cheltenham, you'll get 12/1, 14/1, 20/1 winners. If you're lucky to get one, that sets you up for the whole week. Don't be greedy.

Onto the football, obviously, we've just had an absolutely mad weekend in the Premier League, so I just wanted to get your thoughts on a few key games...

First up, Arsenal v Bournemouth. Do you think it's inevitable the Gunners go on to win the title now?

Well, I'm not sure yet. I'll tell you why I'm not sure.

By the way, I had a four-timer for a tenner, right, and Arsenal were going to let me down at 2-0, I'm like, I don't believe this! All the other ones were all winning 1-0, and I thought, how can Arsenal let me down against Bournemouth.

As soon as they got 2-1, I thought, I've got a chance here. Even with 1 minute to go, I'm thinking, I'm going to get this. Because they do it all the time, don't they?

But you have to look and say, well, they were 2-0 down. So at the beginning to quaver a wee bit? I don't know. Whereas if [Manchester] City start putting their chances away and if they beat Arsenal up in Manchester, then it's game on again. We've still got a lot of points to play for.

But had Bournemouth held Arsenal, nevermind beat them, then it would have been advantage-City again with the bookmakers. There's no reason why Arsenal can't, but it's going to be close, I promise you. It's going to go down to the last two/three games.

Liverpool beating Man United 7-0 was probably the shock of the weekend. From a Liverpool standpoint, do you think this is a clear indication that they're going to grab top four?

I think it's a turning point, I really do.

I said on radio the week before, when they played Everton. I said, Jurgen, for me, it would have been a case of "our season that starts now", we win the derby and then we take on Man United at home.

This is where we start. We go on a run. We get players back from injury, Van Dyke's back. There's no reason why Liverpool can't finish top four.

Now, that was a huge shot in the arm, a huge tonic for them. But United's first half could have gone into halftime in front, if you remember chance wise, they could have gone in there 1-0 in front. That was a remarkable turnaround.

The goal at the end [of the first half], and then early second one when United tried to play from the back again.

For God's sake, no one in football, I don't care who they are, can convince me that playing out from the back is a good thing for modern-day football. It's absolute tripe, it's garbage. Every week I see goals given away in crazy, really important parts of matches and they give a stupid goal away to try to play from the back. Then Manchester United just collapse.

But I don't want to take anything away from Liverpool who were fantastic. That must give them the impetus now to go on and finish very close to fourth.

From a Manchester United perspective: do you think this will affect them going forward, or would you just put it down to a blip?

I put it down to a blip.

Ten Hag would be interesting. I'd love to be able to be a fly on the wall in that dressing room afterwards and then again yesterday, what was said in training? What did he say? Or did they get a day off? Is it today where he sits them down and says, look, unacceptable. You can't just throw the towel in like that.

So United have to bounce back. There's no doubt about it. There's European football coming up. I think they will, because Rashford is in such great form. And you look at the United's midfield. He surprised me, disappointed me. Bruno. I thought he was going to try and get on the ball and I thought that's where United had the upper hand. It might have been a midfield, but that didn't happen.

So I think there's a lot of soul-searching to be done. But it was a blip. I see United bouncing back.

Speaking of Bruno, what did you make of his captains performance at the time? What do you think went wrong?

He just didn't get on the ball, he didn't dominate. He's normally "give me it, give me it" and he pulls all the strings.

He's getting a bit of stick for play-acting, but it's not the first time he's done it, by the way. It's not the first time. That's one of my pet hates in football now, that people try and get other players sent off. They go clutching their face and rolling over. I don't see the point.

In the olden days, if someone gives you a whack, you get up, and it's killing you, but you look up and say, "is that all you got mate?" I'll moan, say in a few moments time, then I'll get you back. You don't go rolling about as if you've been shot three times.

So I don't understand that modern-day football. But going back to his display, he was very disappointing, because he is a top player. I thought maybe him and Casimiro would dominate and they didn't.

What did you make of Ten Hag's comments that Anfield is just like any other stadium before the game? Do you think that spurred Liverpool on?

Ridiculous. It's not.

I played there. In fact, I never won there. I scored a goal with my right foot, which is a miracle on its own. We got a draw.

Anfield is really tough. The atmosphere, especially a game like that. You've really got to roll your sleeves up. Your first 20 minutes you know that you're going to be under pressure and you've got to fight for everything.

It is a special place. I don't care what they say, European nights are magnificent. I'm a Celtic man. We have great nights in Europe as well.

We had the Celtic Rangers Cup final last week. I flew up with Rod Stewart, that was a great experience. Private jet with a few beers, we had a sing song. It was magic. And that's a special game. But so is United against Liverpool either at Old Trafford or Anfield.

So I think Tang Hag was trying to play the game down, but as you say, it must have been music to the Liverpool players ears, saying "Oh really? We'll see about that."

You're a former Manchester United player yourself. How do you think the game against Liverpool compares to th derby against Manchester City.

I think it's still bigger.

I know it's crazy because City are the dominant side and suddenly the power has gone from red to blue. But I still think that between the supporters, the fans, the tradition, I still think that Liverpool v Man United one is the biggest one.

Everton failed to beat Nottingham Forrest on Sunday, their next four games are against Brentford, Chelsea, Tottenham and Man United. Do you think they're in serious trouble of going down this year?

I think you can go from the bottom seven down. I promise you.

You look at Leicester, teams like that. Look at West Ham. Look at Leeds. Clubs, you think, nah they'll pull out of it, they'll get out of trouble. I just don't know which way it's going to go now, I really don't.

Everton can, but they need Calvert Lewin, they need a goal scorer. There is something fragile about that kid, because he's a top player, he springs brilliant if you get the crosses in the box, he'll out-jump anyone. He's just fragile.

Whereas you look at West Ham and I still think they've got enough at home to get themselves out of trouble.

But Leicester are warning now, has Vardy now lost his edge? When Madison doesn't play for them, they struggle.

So it really is incredible. You look at the likes of Brighton, how well they have done this year. You look at Palace, are they out of it? I'm not sure. Look at Brentford. Brentford have done brilliant. Look at Fulham, I know they went down 3-2, but Fulham have had a brilliant season.

So we're not running out of games but you're looking ahead now thinking if this comes down the last five games, who have we got? It's going to be so tight and I think this will go to the last game of the season, for who goes down.

If you had to make a call for the bottom three, who would you say?

I think Southampton are fighting. There's hardly anything in it, is there?

I don't want to see Everton go down because I used to love playing against Everton at Goodison. Big big football club.

I think Saints, I think have they got enough in them? Maybe at home, I'm just not sure. I think it's hard, I really do. I think it's hard to call for us. Showed great comeback, showed character with the two good young players they've got there.

The boy Johnson is a good player, really is, and he's taking his chances. I wonder if someone will try and buy him at the end of the season.

I would like to name three, but I don't want to, because I think it's any three of seven, to be honest.

Tottenham are having a very stop-start season. Do you think they'll eventually come good? Or is it Antonio Conte that's the problem at the minute?

Think Conte will leave and I think Pochettino will be coming back in.

I'm not saying I know, but I've got to know Poch a little bit now and he's a great guy, lovely guy. You can say, well, what's he won? I think he's just hovering there, not hoping Conte leaves, but if he does leave, Poch, I believe he's got a place in Herefordshire.

I think he'd be the ideal replacement to come in and galvanise Spurs. I think if he was to come in, I think there's a good chance they'll keep Harry Kane.

But I don't want to see Harry going because I think Harry's Tottenham through and through. I've seen great players leave clubs, and it hasn't worked for them. I don't want to see Harry do that.

And I just feel that it's probably a real good chance, eight-and-a-half or nine out of ten, that Conte will leave and Poch will come in and Harry will stay.

You went from Tottenham to Man United yourself, do you not think that could potentially be a good move for Harry Kane?

I think Harry would score loads of goals because I think United make loads of goals. Rashford's on fire.

It just depends whether he wants to move up north. You know, his family will be totally settled. His kids and all that. It is a big, big move.

I moved there because I wasn't regularly playing and there was something wrong with me and I thought maybe a change of club would change that. But it turned out I had a problem with my spine.

So no matter where I went, it wouldn't have changed unless there was a spinal fusion and they could look at it. Nowadays it's fantastic. They can scan your body and tell you what's wrong anywhere. Those days you didn't have that.

But Harry doesn't have that problem. He is remarkably strong, robust, he's had a few problems with his ankles, yeah, but then he gets kicked all over the place.

I'd like to see Harry stay, but I've always said that Spurs midfield is the big, big problem. Whereas if he goes to United, they will dominate most matches. I think they're more consistent than Tottenham. So he'd probably get more goals at Man United.

It's just whether he wants to make that life-changing move and move his family up there, that's the problem.

So you've mentioned Spurs midfield being the problem at the minute, back in your playing days, you played along the likes of Glenn Hoddle and Ossie Ardiles, two absolutely fantastic midfielders. What was it like to play with them?

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Glenn would pick out a pass magnificent. I was lucky.

Ossie was brilliant. Little one-twos. Ossie's a real good friend of mine as well now. So we speak a lot. Wonderful player.

Then you look at Gaza coming along. Tottenham have had real excitement, especially in that midfield-to-forward area. I don't see that anymore. [Christian] Eriksen's gone and you think, where's all the top players now?

When I went to Manchester United, Brian Robson. What a leader. Fantastic. You had [Gordon] Strachan there, you had [Arnold] Mühren on the left-hand side, who I played with at Ipswich as well. They've always had top, top players.

I think it's crying out that Spurs are struggling in the midfield department. You could say central defence is no good as well. But upfront when you get Son, you get Harry and people like that. Richarlison, Jesus.

You've got to get them supply, you've got to get the ball to them and they'll punish defences. But they're not creative enough, there's not players who get the football.

I'd love to see Madison go there, but that's all Leicester need right now, for him to leave. But he would fit in brilliantly at Spurs.

Just a few questions on your playing days at Ipswich Town, a massive part of your career and you were part of the team that won the UEFA Cup. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience and what it meant for you and the team at the time?

It was wonderful because I was asked as a kid in Glasgow when I was 15, would I like to go on trial at Ipswich? I said, "Yeah! Where is it?" You know, I had no idea, no idea. I had heard of Bobby Robson, heard of Kevin Beattie, but that was about it, to be honest.

Then by the time I got down here on trial, there was Johnny Wark, there was George Bowler. There was a lot of Scottish lads, Newcastle lads, it was a breath of fresh air when I signed, it was wonderful.

I just getting in after 1978 when we beat Arsenal the cup. I flew the following morning to America to try and find a yard of pace. Bobby thought it'd do me good, rather than lying on the beach drinking San Miguels. He said, "get yourself to America, find me some pace", and I did, I met George Best. Played against Besty and people like that so I had a beer with them instead.

But it was a great. I went all over America, it was wonderful. Came back and basically getting in the team. Of course 81 and 82, we should have won the league twice. Liverpool came in on an almighty run to beat us.

As well as Villa. Villa beat us in 81 when we were going for it, we lost the semi-final of the FA Cup. With a good run in the League Cup, we thought we were going to win the old First Division, which is now the Premier League.

Luckily enough, we beat Villa home and away and knocked them out the FA Cup. But they had less injuries than we had, and we both didn't have squads.

Villa ended up winning playing 14 players. You tell the guys that now, you know, 14 players they won the league with. When we were playing we had one sub at the time. If we had two injuries, we were struggling and we just ran out of players. So we had to settle for the UEFA Cup.

That UEFA cup run was amazing. I remember, we were pretty lucky in Greece. We played Aris Thessaloniki and it was a battle out there. The coach got stoned after the game, bricks, bottles, you name it. Then it was amazing, we played Bohemians of Prague, Panenka, that great player, played for them.

I always remember running out in Prague in this stadium, packed to the rafters, smelling the booze and the tobacco, you could smell it all around you. And we beat them.

Then we played Widzew Łódź from Poland, with [Zbigniew] Boniek. Remember Boniek? Red hair. Juventus. Beat them 5-0. Battered them. Absolutely battered them.

Progressed to the quarterfinals, Saint-Étienne had never been beaten at home in Europe. We battered them 4-0. Dominique Rocheteau. The French George Best. You had Michel Platini. You had Johnny Rep. What a side they had, by the way. And we battered them.

Semifinal. Köln. There's a guy called Bonhof at the back. Rainer Bonhof. You had Toni Schumacher in goal.

And then we won the final in Amsterdam, home and away, against a very good Dutch side. Half of the side were in the Dutch national side, and we beat them to win it.

So thank God we won something that year, because we had some side.

Then the following year, we get knocked out cups early and then the team broke up. Bobby left and we ran out of money and everyone left the club, which was a great shame. But I live in Suffolk and I still get out now and again.

Unfortunately, the team has struggled a bit in recent years, they're in League one at the moment. What do you think the club need to do in order to return to its former glory?

We're getting there. We're third from top. Whether we can catch Plymouth, who are second from top, if we can catch them...

We're playing really well, we're punishing sides. We're not putting our chances away, that we can do. We're getting a lot of draws when they should be wins.

But we're getting 32,000, I think there's 26,000 there last time. And if we keep it going, there's American owners behind us now, and there's plenty of money there.

So I honestly believe if we can finish second, get automatic, because the playoffs, as you know, anything can happen. But if we can get second and get up, there'll be more money for the manager to spend.

He's a rookie manager. There'll be more money, and then the Championship would be wide open. It's not easy, the Championship, but I honestly think that if we get the Championship with some extra players, with the money we've got behind us and the crowds behind us, we'll be full every home game, we've got a chance to get back the big time.

Then it's a different ball game. Once you get the Premier League, it's survival for three years.

Onto the Champions League, who do you think will lift the trophy in Istanbul this year?

I'd love to see City and I hope it is. I just love the way City pass the ball and Grealish has now come on again. Foden has come back with a bang. I think we're still yet to see the best of Haaland. His dad come up to me at the Arsenal game, I went to the Emirates, they come up and said, a lovely guy, Alfie, so I'd love to see City win it.

But Napoli are going well. Although I think they got beaten in Serie A the other day, I think Latzio might have beaten them. I think Napoli are definitely dark horses and they've got a chance.

And I just think the way Bayern took PSG apart first half, they're a big threat as well. So I'd say Napoli, Bayern or City. And I shouldn't really forget Real Madrid, but they struggled away from home against Betis the other night in Spain.

So City have got every chance, every chance. But Bayern are a good side.

Do you think it's completely over for Liverpool after that Madrid tie?

It's going to be hard, isn't it? Who knows? Liverpool have done it before, haven't they? Had remarkable comebacks. But against Real Madrid, I think Real Madrid is definitely going to score. So I think it's goodbye.

But if they get fourth, Liverpool back in Europe, then they can look forward. I think they're going to have to spend. I was listening to Danny Murphy's comments on a few ex-Liverpool stars, ex-players, and you can tell they have to invest. They're getting older now. The youngsters can't keep carrying the side.

So the likes of Gakpo looks a real good buy. I think if they add to that, then Liverpool will be a force again next year.

And your boyhood club, Celtic, comfortably sitting top of the table, having won the League Cup. Do you fancy them for the treble this year?

I do. Rangers played well second half. Celtic not played them off the park first half, but there was a gulf in class. Then Celtic ran out of puff a wee bit and Rangers come back into it.

But Celtic have a lot of character. The manager, who I'd never heard of, and it turns out I played against him at the end of my career, when I played for Wollongong, we played Melbourne and he was on the team sheet, someone sent me it.

I've yet to bump into him. I'm scared to! Because I was saying, "who's this guy? What's going on? Where did he come from?" And he's proved us all wrong. He certainly proved me wrong. And they tell me he's a great guy.

So they've still got every chance of doing the treble, they really have. And my worry is, will we keep him? But rumour has it, he will sign a new contract at Celtic, he loves it.

So where do you rank Ange Postecoglou in terms of other title-winning Celtic managers?

Well, Brendan was great, wasn't he? Then Brendan left, and he left on a bad note and the fans have never forgiven them.

Funny enough, it was Rod Stewart was saying about the Champions League, and I'm like, "forget it, Rod, forget it. We cannot compete. Champions League. Impossible." The money that's around in football now. Celtic just haven't got those type of players.

I think Postecoglou is getting the absolute best out of the squad. Unless someone like Dermot Desmond, our owner, Dermot's a very rich man based in Ireland, of course, with great business interest, he won't suddenly just find 200 million. He won't do that.

So it's going to be very difficult. If we could qualify out the group, that'd be another massive step forward. It really would. So that would do me. If we could have a good run in Champions League games, especially at Celtic Park, and get through and qualify for the knockout stages, that would be wonderful.

What do you think Scottish teams need in order to be able to start competing in the Champions League again?

Well, to be quite frank. Celtic and Rangers would have to come to the Premier League. But I don't think it's going to happen because it's like the turkeys voting for Christmas.

What Chairman in the Premier League is going to say, "oh we'll step aside and bring in Celtic & Rangers", it's not going to happen.

And if it did happen, for some reason, if suddenly they said, we're bringing them in and we're having two more extra sides, what happens to the Dundees, the Hibs, the Hearts, the Aberdeens? I'm of the opinion it will kill Scottish football. I think it will kill it stone dead.

All the kids growing up in Scotland, not just Glasgow, who supported Celtic or Rangers, will want to keep supporting them because they're going to be playing Liverpool, Man United, Chelsea, Man City, et cetera.

It's going to make them even more Celtic or Rangers fans, rather than support the local sides like Hibs, Hearts, and Aberdeen. I think it kills it stone dead.

So, on that note, do you think it's feasible to blend the entire Scottish division into the English one?

Yeah, but again, it's where do you put them?

Do you put them at the bottom? They wouldn't do it.

Do they go in at that level, Division Two, and work the way up from Division Two?

I have no doubt whatsoever, Celtic & Rangers, the Premier League, with the money they would get... maybe the first year would be hard, but then they'd survive. No danger, because at home they'd be awesome.

And with the type of players that they could bring in, then they'd have a fighting chance, there's no doubt about it, of being good Premiership clubs. Giants even. They could be up there after two or three seasons with the money.

Celtic and Rangers get 2/3 million from television rights. What does the least club in England get in the Prem? Is it £150 million plus?

So it's a huge difference, by the way, huge difference. So I wouldn't dismiss them that they struggle. I think if they could somehow survive first year, second year, then they get stronger and stronger.

On the Scottish national team. They've struggled to qualify for major tournaments in recent years. In your opinion, what do you think the team needs to do in order to start competing at the highest level again?

I think we're getting better. There's no doubt about it. You look at some of the young players coming through, it's a breath of fresh air.

Look at Robertson now, he's was magnificent against Man United. Fantastic. You got Tierney as well, you've got McTominay. He might be on the move, but he's all right. And there's more youngsters coming through, so we've got to be patient. It's difficult, but we've got to qualify for major tournaments and give these youngsters a chance to mature.

But we've got to keep the conveyor belt coming, we've got to keep producing young players or we're dead and buried. We're a small nation, the same as Wales. Wales have done better than us because they had young players coming through. Plus, they've had a couple of superstars, with Bale and Giggs from the past. With Scotland, you have to go back a few years for superstars.

So we've just got to be patient, but I do trust the people in charge and I think that we're getting better, we're improving, but we have to keep improving. We can't stand still.

As you've just mentioned Scottish superstars, there have been some fantastic players over the years, from Kenny Daglish, Dennis Law, Graham Souness. Who do you think was the greatest player in the history of the Scottish national team, and why?

Well, I'm a massive Daglish. I played against him, played with him for Scotland, and I love him as a bloke. He was sensational.

Dennis Law, though. Dennis I've met a few times, but he was a little bit before my time.

Jimmy Johnstone was a great player and they tell me Dave Mackay was magnificent. There's been so many.

Alan Hansen was a great player. Willie Miller and McLeish together as a pairing were very good. You've GordonStrachan. There's so many. There really is so many. I probably missed some crackers out as well.

But we've always had top, top players and I just wonder... every team in the old First Division, which is now the Premier League, probably had a top Scot in it. That doesn't happen anymore.

So there's got to be a reason why, and I can't put my finger on it yet, but we've just got to keep at it.

It can't all be the bad living and drugs and all that, because you have that not just in Glasgow, Edinburgh, you have that in every city. In Wales and Ireland, in Dublin and stuff. But they seem to be producing young players coming through and we've got to keep that going.

We're not doing it at school level and academy level, we're doing something wrong and we've got to get back to finding the talent, because it is there, there's no doubt about it.

But there's been some great players. I've missed some out. There's some great Rangers players as well. But Daglish has got to be up there with the very best.

On VAR, since its introduction, refereeing decisions are still a big talking point. So has anything changed in your mind?

Yeah, I've got a bigger bin to my right and that's where I want to put it. I cannot stand it.

I have no idea what is a handball now. I'm still struggling with offsides. What phase? But the handball and the penalties, I haven't got a clue. What's the penalty anymore? I really haven't got a clue. Some of the decisions they're making, I promise you, are diabolical.

But the handball is the worst thing. I was quite happy with just, was the ball over the line or not? Or was it in the box or not? And let the referee and the linesman get on with it. Now it's not for me. I hate it. I absolutely hate it.

And we've changed too many rules in football. We didn't need to change them all. I think over-the-line was crucial. And if there's a penalty in the box or not, where the foul was committed, fine, that's it. Offside, maybe. If it's clear-cut, but the phase of offside drives me mad. And the handball, I'm just clueless. I have no idea.

Obviously, you've been a pundit for many, many years. Do you think all we seem to do now is talk about these controversial decisions?

I don't mind talking about them, but when some of them are so blatant, you think, how the hell has he missed that?

Because if you think back before VAR, we got the pub and argue about "oh that linesman was blind. How did he miss that?"

You've always had these arguments, but why do we argue, when we now have the technology to prove it correct, 100% correct, we're still getting it wrong!

Just a few questions about your playing days... Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as a professional footballer?

Well, I played locally. I went to a very big school, 44 people in the class. Funny enough, it was more music that came out of my school than footballers.

Simple Minds, Jim Kerr. Charlie Burchill in my class. Texas. The manager of Texas and the bass player. Class Below and their manager was in my class. The lead singer of Travis was a Holyrood boy. Altered Images, I think, with another one. It's amazing. Frankie Boyle, the comedian. I don't even remember a music teacher at my school, so I don't know how the hell they done it, I really don't.

But it was a great school, loved it, and played local football. Then I ended up playing Celtic Boys Club. I was a left foot midfield player and then they changed me when I was under-16 level to centre forward, and I scored 62 goals, which was a record, and Celtic didn't sign me.

And that's when a little guy, a scout came over with a duffel coat and said "hey son, I've been watching you for a while." A guy called George Finley from Ayr. He said, "I'd like to take you down to Ipswich." And I said, "Yes. Yes. Where is it?"

And that was it. Youth team at Ipswich, two years there. I scored a lot of goals in the southeast counties and eventually broke into the team.

But unfortunately, I retired at 27. But I can't complain because I played for Ipswich UEFA Cup in 81, won it. Won it at Tottenham in 84. Went to Man United, didn't win anything, but played the World Cup in 82 with Kenny Daglish, Souness and Hansen, all those great players.

So at 27, I knew there was something wrong with me when they said, "son, you're going to have to call it a day. Your S1-L5 has gone. It's bone on bone. Unless you have a fusion, forget it, you can't play again."

And I used to have to wash or clean my teeth with one hand holding on the sink. When I took my hand away, my head just went straight in the sink.

After the game, I had no strength at all with my back, so in a way, I knew there was something wrong. Not making excuses, and I knew, time to start with something else.

But my goal record at Spurs and United wasn't bad at all. Ipswich was very good. So I can look back with pride and say, I played for some big clubs, I played in the World Cup, I won two UEFA cups, so I had a good career. Cut very short, but saying that, I've been lucky and been given another chance to reinvent myself.

You've had a fantastic career as a player. Is there any advice you'd give to young footballers starting out in the sport today?

Absolutely. Take it, enjoy it, embrace it.

First of all, I'd say, listen to what your mum and dad tell you at home.

I'd say, when you go to play football, express yourself. Listen to people, especially all the players who've done it. Listen to what they've got to say.

Sometimes you get coaches who don't fancy you. Try and be your own self. You've got to do what they want to a certain level. But if you want to control the ball with the outside of your foot rather than inside, the way they tell you, do it. Be natural. Be yourself, express yourself.

And I would say, try and live well. I think food is important now because the game has got quicker. And I would say, in terms of bevvy, I'm not saying don't have a drink, but don't in excess.

In fact, I'd say, don't do anything in excess. Look after yourself. You're training every day, look after your body, because that's your tools. And just don't do anything in excess.

I always say my kids, languages. Learn a different language if you can, because I think later on in life it's a fantastic advantage if you speak two or three languages. I really do.

Your career was sadly cut short and you've since become a radio presenter and a pundit. How did you find the transition from playing football to working in the media, and what do you enjoy most about your current role?

It was an absolute fluke, I'm not going to lie to you.

I started doing local radio, and then I ended up doing co-commentaries. I did a little work for Five Live, and then someone guy called 'Mike Porky Parry' phoned me up and asked me if I wanted Talksport and I went "who?" I said yeah, and I'll be honest with you, I forgot all about it.

I was having lunch Friday in the West End of London, forgot all about it. Paul Miller, who played for Spurs, said "aren't you meant to be doing radio tonight?" I gasped and went "what time is it?" It was 6:45 pm and I was on at 7 pm.

He went ballistic when I got in the studio, he went mental. But I said, "well, give me my script." He says "you haven't got any, just talk." I went "what?" he said "Just talk. Someone will phone in, give the phone number out." I went "you having a laugh?" He said, "Try it, you be all right." And that was the start of it.

Within ten minutes, all these taxi drivers on their break would phone in. Guys in vans on a break, in traffic, would phone in. Amazingly, before I knew it, I was doing breakfast radio a couple of times a week and ended up doing it five times a week.

By the way, that starts at 6 AM. I couldn't get up for training when I was a footballer at 10 AM. So it is a blooming miracle how I ever got anywhere near media. That was probably 30 years ago now, which is remarkable, maybe 35 years ago.

Did you ever consider going as a management at the time?

Not really. When I was playing non-league, someone would say "Come and help us out." I ended up managing with them for a while. We might have been unbeaten and then had the chance to go to Australia. My brother lived there and, I thought, Australia? I fancy that, I've not been out there. So I took that chance. So I blew that out.

Then I went to Switzerland at the end of my career and I stayed there only one season there, which was very successful, scored a few hat tricks for a team called FC. Baden. There was a guy there who was a coach called Raimondo Ponte, who was a Swiss international, Italian by birth, but a Swiss international, played for Grasshoppers Zurich, and he played for Nottingham Forrest.

Trevor Francis told him about me and I went out there as a free agent. I had a great time. He wanted me to stay on and play and do a bit of coaching. So if I had done, I probably would have ended up being a coach somewhere. But where? I really don't know.

You'd only received one yellow card in your career. Do you think you'll have pick up a lot more if you were playing today?

Oh, without a doubt. Without a doubt. If I try to kick someone, I ended up hurting myself. So I knew my capabilities.

And it was Jimmy Case who thumped me off the ball. They opened me right in the air and I swung an arm at him. The linesman looked and just caught me swinging my arm. So nowadays I'd have probably been off.

But I was a bit of a whisp as a player. Some people say I was this hard centre-forward, rubbish. [Paul] Mariner was hard. He was a centre-forward, and I was a number ten. I was annoyed getting that.

But I'd probably get stick and cards for language or wingeing at the referees. Because some of the decisions, as I've said earlier, are just bonkers.

Absolutely no common sense. So I'll probably get cards for verbals rather than kicking people.

If you had to pick a five or side team, of all the players you played with, who are you going for?

Well, [Kenny] Dalglish would have to be there. I was going to say [Glenn] Hoddle or [Ossie] Ardiles, but Brian Robson has to get in, HAS to.

So if I say Dalglish up-front, I'll play the two... it'd have to be Brian [Robson] and... how can I leave Arnold Mühren out?

I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll play Mühren, Hoddle, Dalglish, and Brian Robson behind them. And the goalkeeper would have to be Shilton, I think. I think Peter Shilton would have to be the goalkeeper.

Would you not play yourself in this scenario?

No, not good enough to get in that team!

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Last Updated: 14 June 2023
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