Unlike most Professional footballers I didn’t have the evidence that at a young age I this would be my future and until I was 21 I never felt it was the route I wanted for myself too. I’ve always loved playing football with my mates, both on the school ground, local parks and weekend teams but enjoying a kick about was as far as I was ever expecting.
I was born on 19th September 1982 at the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham. I was brought up and raised in a small village called Trowell with my older brother Wayne and older sister Shelley. My life from an early age was quite busy as at the age of three my parents decided to become foster parents and from then on our house became a beautiful, hectic, vibrant home. I’ve shared my family with around 180 disadvantaged children that were in care for one reason or another but I have to say I enjoyed every minute of it and I believe it was the foundation to become the man I am today.
It was always fairly obvious I was a decent athlete and by the age of six or seven I was playing football with lads 3-4 years older than myself and holding my own. At the age of 8 I joined Ilkeston Town Colts under 9s to play competitive games each Sunday. After just one game when we were demolished 12-1 (I got the only goal) I was named captain and I held that until the club finished 7 years later. After two years playing Sundays alone I joined Hucknall Town Harriers too which meant both Saturday afternoon matches as well as Sunday mornings. I was spotted playing at the age of 14 and asked to represent South Notts, which was the best players in the area.
At this stage I had been turned down by Ipswich Town and Huddersfield Town to sign for a professional club, which I was very relieved about as I enjoyed playing with friends and didn’t see me playing professionally as a career. Rotherham Utd did offer me a 3 year apprentice though after a successful trial and end of under 16s campaign. I was adamant I didn’t want to take up the offer but my Dad persuaded me it was worth giving a go and that I was extremely lucky to be given the opportunity.
Under the guidance of the Rotherham Utd youth coaches I started to progress quicker than the Youth team players and by the time I reached the age of 20 there was just me left at the club out of around 20 young aspiring players.
I made my first team debut in March 2003 against Brighton at the Keepmoat Stadium where we went on to lose 2-0. Although I managed to break my hand after only 5 minutes into the game, I enjoyed the experience of first team football so much I realised that this was the career I now wanted. After 140 appearances for the Millers I moved to Blackpool for the 2006-2007 season. We reached the playoffs and managed to gain promotion to the Championship in my first season which so far has been my only club achievement. After three great seasons with Blackpool and 150 appearances I moved to Derby County to hopefully have the best part of my career in front of me. Unfortunately I’ve suffered severe injuries since my arrival, something which I had managed to avoid for the rest of my career. Apart from 6 months of being fit for the club I’ve never been able to perform at my best and I’m currently trying to overcome a horrendous injury sustained in the local derby against Nottingham Forest.
I’m extremely proud to have played nearly 400 games already in my career and I’m determined to play many more. I realise and appreciate how lucky I am to be able to play football for a living and would like to thank my wife, family and friends who have provided help and guidance along the way. A special thanks had to go to my Dad (Stuart) who has helped in tough decisions and offered love and support throughout, not to mention the miles and miles he’s driven to take me to training and games!!