Les Ferdinand: One-on-One

You grew up in West London, where I can imagine there weren’t too many Leslies. Did you ever get any lip at school for your name?
Darren Green, Chorley
Well, I was bigger than most lads in school, so no. The only other Leslie I knew was a girl I fancied but there weren’t any other guys named Leslie. Besides, people just called me Les.

Who were your heroes growing up?
Brian Grey, Eastleigh
The late Laurie Cunningham, Cyrille Regis and Brendon Batson were the first black players I saw on TV who I could relate to. Seeing them play for West Brom was a real inspiration. It was nice for me that I started out with Hayes, the same club Cyrille Regis started with.

How is it that a player of your ability was playing non-league until you were 21? Is it harder for players to take that route now?
Glenda Friar, Warwick
I actually signed for QPR when I was 19, but I think it was a case of being in the right place at the right time. I’d never had trials, and in fact, for the first three years I played for my school football team, I played in goal.
But it is harder for non-league players to come through now.

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