Barry Hayles: My Secret Vice

It’s one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready and go, cat, go for the striker…

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“I love a good old-fashioned sing-song. I don’t care what anyone says about my voice – I ain’t bad! I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of a crooner and whenever I hear a good tune on the radio I just can’t help joining in with it at the top of my voice. I know that it gets on people’s nerves, but I don’t care. I’m a natural born singer!

Most of my singing is done in the dressing room, on the team coach or in my car, but I have been known to strut my stuff on the karaoke machine. My passion for karaoke started in the 1997-98 season when I was playing for Bristol Rovers. The club was asked if a couple of the Rovers players would like to judge a proper karaoke competition in TGI Fridays, which was set to run over a few weeks. Being a bit of a music lover, I jumped at the chance to get involved. As it turned out, I sat there judging the contest and got totally hooked by it. But I couldn’t let everybody else do all the singing knowing that I had so much to offer, so after a few minutes of indecision I plucked up the courage to put my own name down for Oasis’ Wonderwall.

I can’t recall how good I was on my karaoke debut, but I do remember feeling a real buzz at doing a turn on the stage and from what I remember the crowd seemed to enjoy it as much as I did! Halfway through the song, a few of the Bristol Rovers lads came and on stage to join me, but in truth they brought my standard down. I am definitely cut out to be a solo artist!

I love signing all types of music. I’m probably an R&B man at heart, and Jodeci are the group that I’d like to have sung with most before they split. I’m a big fan of country & western too and in particular the great Kenny Rogers. When I listen to Kenny’s music, I just love joining in to some of his classic tunes like Coward Of The Country. My other favourite music genre is indie rock, with Oasis and The Verve the pick of the bunch. Both bands have written some superb singalong tunes that are simply made for my voice!

At Fulham, everybody knows I love singing, but for some reason they always tell me to pack it in. If a good track comes on the radio when we’re on the coach, I have to sing it and sing it loud. It’s the only way. The boys say I’m tone deaf but I’m not having that. I don’t care what they say – nobody can stop me singing. Anyway, I never show my best to the lads. I wind them up by putting on a dodgy croaky voice, but when I want to turn on the magic I have the velvet voice well and truly up my sleeve!

An old Fulham team-mate of mine, Steve McAnespie, who’s now at Kilmarnock, fancied himself as a pop star at one stage and, to be honest, he was a rival as the best singer in our dressing room. He probably had a better voice than mine, but to me it was bland and lacked that special feeling you need to be top drawer. My voice wasn’t in Steve’s league, but I made up for that with my passion. What I lack in ability I more than make up for in desire!

I think Jean Tigana was pretty baffled by my passion for singing. He just shrugged his shoulders and laughed when he heard me belting out the tunes on the coach, but I think that’s because he didn’t have a clue what I was singing! He never told me to shut up, though, which I take as a compliment!

Chris Coleman, on the other hand, is a big music lover just like me and deep down I think he appreciates my vocal talents. Being a Welshman, I know that he likes to sing, but I’ve never heard him crooning, so he must do most of his singing in private. It’s funny because the gaffer and his assistant, Steve Kean, often take their guitars on away trips, where they must do some jamming in their rooms to relax before a game. I don’t like to be too pushy, but I’m still waiting for an invite so that I can put some words to their own acoustic sessions.

I actually caught the gaffer strumming his guitar in the office at the training ground earlier this season. I stood by the door listening to him for ages and then popped my head around the door and said, ‘Hard life being a manager then?’ He just smiled, nodded his head and lost himself back in the music. Maybe we should start a band.

I’m absolutely certain that I’d win Celebrity Fame Academy if I ever got the chance. I’m not massively into the reality TV singing competitions, but I do prefer Pop Idol to Fame Academy. I followed the first series – the one with Will Young and Gareth Gates – and I must admit I got really addicted to it. I’d love the opportunity to sing in front of Simon Cowell one day to see what he had to say about me. I think he’d probably say that I need some vocal training, but that I have all the ingredients to be a star. I have the inner belief to cope with anything Simon Cowell would throw at me, so I’m ready to chance it.

I don’t know where I get my love of singing from, because none of my family have the passion for music that I do. I’m very happy to be a Premiership footballer and wouldn’t swap it for any job in the world, but I know I was born to be a pop star! All my mates say I belong on stage and I know that it is my destiny to show the world what I can do. All I need is a few vocal lessons and then the world will be my oyster!”