Cardiff City midfielder and long-range specialist speaks to FourFourTwo back in December 2003, when he was on the books at Aston Villa.
Clubs played for
I joined Coventry when I was eight, but they released me at 16. I was offered a trial at Villa and haven’t looked back.
My crossing is probably the best part of my game.
I need to work on my heading, and I could also do with gaining some weight and building up my strength.
It’s got to be Zidane or Ronaldo – both of them are just phenomenal.
Who do you play like?
I don’t know really. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m unique though!
Winning the FA Youth Cup final in 2002 and making my Premiership debut last season.
Being released by Coventry was hard, especially as I was a fan.
Playing for England Under-19s last year was great. Hopefully I can look to build on that and break into the Under-20 side.
Best player you’ve faced
Thierry Henry, last season. He must be the fastest player in the world – I bet he could compete with the 100m sprinters! He has everything though – speed, strength, touch, the lot.
Best player played with
Gareth Barry is really inspirational. He’s got a great left foot, lots of ability and bags of experience despite his young age.
Biggest compliment received
The faith that David O’Leary has shown in me is quite a compliment. I didn’t have a great game against Portsmouth on the opening day of the season but he kept me in and I’ve played a lot better.
Best advice given
Before I made my debut Dion Dublin told me to make sure I stayed relaxed and played the same as I would in training. That really helped.
David O’Leary gave me my big chance, which was obviously influential. And my dad has always been really supportive, taking me to Coventry and driving me to training and my trial at Villa. He’s happy now and glad that he did!
A lot of R&B stuff at the moment. I’m quite into 50 Cent’s album, although the last CD I bought was Wayne Wonder. It’s not bad at all, I recommend it.
The Matrix, because at the time it was unique. The sequel was good but a bit over-hyped.
I like to play a bit of golf, and I used to play cricket. I’m not really any good though, that’s why they’re just hobbies!
I spend far too much time talking on my mobile, but that’s about it.
I’ve got a VW Golf 1.6. It’s got alloys and does the job but I wouldn’t mind a nice Mercedes – if anybody out there’s offering!
I’d love to go to Barbados, but I went to Ibiza last year and I was quite happy with that.
MOTD or The Premiership?
Match Of The Day was the original and best. The Premiership seems to drag, probably because of the ad breaks!
If any woman asked you for your autograph, who would you choose?
There are a few to choose from, but I’d have to go for Kelly Brook.
If I hadn’t been a footballer...
I dread to think. It would have been a boring nine-to-five sort of job, I suppose.
In five years I’ll be...
Playing in the first team week in week out, with some Under-21 caps under my belt and maybe even looking for a place in the full squad. Ideally, of course.
Interview: Phil Barnett. From the December 2003 issue of FourFourTwo.