Thursday 24 February 2000

The Tottenham Midfielder On Life With A Famous Father, Coping With The Attention As A Premiership Footballer And The Pitfalls Of A Saturday NightOut

Tell us then, what's it like having such a famous dad?
"When I started doing quite well with youth teams at county level, my dad tried to stay away from the games. If he was there everyone would know I wasplaying and that would put added pressure on me. My dad wouldn't let me join
Tottenham until I was 13 even though the club had wanted me since I was nine or ten."

Did that frustrate you?
"Not really because he didn't tell me they had wanted me from such a young age! Otherwise I would have been pestering him."

Did you used to watch him in his heyday?
"Not really, I was too young. I can remember the 1987 FA Cup Final against Coventry because it was the first time I'd been to Wembley. I've seen thevideos since obviously."

Did he try to pressure you to become a goalkeeper?
"No, he never did that. He is quite happy that I'm not because I would not have been able to live up to the comparison. What he achieved was unbelievable. If I played in goal I think fans would be saying that I'm not as good as he was, but they can't compare me because I play out on pitch. But the fans aren't stupid. They know you can't get in Tottenham's first team just because of who your dad is."

Does the old man brag about his achievements now?
"He might say something in a jokey way but he's not like that really. He will give me advice at times and I try and take it on board, but he knows I've got good coaches at Spurs."

Has having a famous dad led to chances other kids would not get?
"No, I don't think so. My dad has never really helped me in that way. When I was growing up some kids would say I was only at the club because of my dad and that's hard to take when you are 13 or 14. It was all jealousy. I just had to get on with it and ignore them. In a way it made me try harder and luckily it has all worked out."

Are you surprised how much you've played this season?
"I've enjoyed the last few weeks when I've been playing. I want to be a regular in the side, but a couple of bad games and you will be out again. I know that once Oyvind Leonhardsen and Steffen Freund come back regularly I will be out again. But I can only do my best each time I get a chance."

How easy is it to be a young player these days with all the media attention on you?
"I don't do anything that could upset my football. I maybe go out with some friends on a Saturday night but apart from that I spend a lot of time at home. There are certain places I won't go if we have lost on a Saturday because you do get people come up to you and have a go. But if that happens you just leave. I don't want to listen to people caning my team-mates when I'm out."

Is there too much pressure on young kids these days?
"You've just got to choose where you go carefully. You don't want to put yourself in any situation where there could be trouble. My dad was a model professional. He knew when to have a good time at the right time and that is what he has instilled into me."

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