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Collymore Part One: Stan on Gregory, Shaw and burning £50 notes
First batch of answers from our Stan Collymore 'Cult Heroes' interview.
6th Feb 2013
Collymore Part One: Stan on Gregory, Shaw and burning £50 notes


Former striker Stan Collymore is next up in our special Cult Heroes feature series.

The TalkSPORT presenter was so expansive with his replies that we have decided to split the intriguing question and answer up into two-parts.

Find below his thoughts on urban myths, regrets and heroes.

Q] Who was your football idol growing up?

A] Gary Shaw! Without a shadow of doubt.

I remember being 10 or 11 and for kids they represent the most impressionable years. U10s or U11s is the first proper organised football you come into.

At that time I was able to express myself at junior levels in Cannock and then head off to see Villa with my sister and her husband.

For me to see a local lad at Villa Park with massive, massive ability was amazing.

He won the Young Player of the Year award, the League Championship and then the European Cup. He was just my ultimate idol.

We went on a special day trip to Bodymoor one year with my team Romford Boys to watch training.

It was at the old training ground, which I used as a player. I remember standing in a little concrete area right beside the old gym, where we used to walk out to the pitches.

I was there years before waiting for autographs. Jimmy Rimmer came out with those huge gloves of his and I honestly nearly fainted. I couldn't believe that this footballer I idolised was actually a real person. It was bizarre.

Then the devious side of me kicked in. I slipped through a little side door and Peter Withe and Gary Shaw were doing abdominal sit-ups. I quickly closed the door because I couldn't believe my eyes. Great memories!

But going back to the original question, Gary Shaw! He was great on the ball, could twist and turn, weighed in with goals and he was a big inspiration for me to try and go on and be a professional footballer.

Q] John Gregory, despite the fall-outs, said you were the most talented player he ever worked with. What's your view of him?

A] Lots of people think I have a grudge against John or that John has a grudge against me. That's not the case at all.

John was a football manager who had one player with issues while trying to take care of a team through a Premier League season and European campaign. I can totally understand his frustrations.

As a coach, he came in and he organised training very well. I think we got an immediate lift when he came in.

I loved Brian Little. He is a Villa hero. But we were struggling at the time. We were trying to fit myself, Savo and Dwight into the team which didn't quite work.

John came in and fronted everyone up and we went on and had a good run that season, starting really with that Liverpool game at Villa Park.

I have nothing but the highest regard for John as a coach and manager.

We settled any differences we had eight or nine years ago.

We met up for a television programme about mental health issues. He'd had time to reflect. I'd had time to reflect. We moved onwards and upwards.

John is a huge Villa fan. He's at loads of games supporting the boys. I have the utmost respect for him. He's one of the very best coaches I worked with.

Gregory

Q] How volatile did your relationship with John become?

A] It was difficult. Essentially I went to him, I went to the physio Jim Walker and I went to the chairman Doug Ellis. I said 'I am struggling.'

Clubs are much better now at dealing with not only physical injuries but also mental health issues which are a big part of life now. Footballers are just human beings!

It got strained to the point that when I came back from Fulham, he made it clear I wasn't part of the plans, which was disappointing.

I was still motivated, I was training hard and I still felt I had plenty to offer. The proof of that is that when Villa let me go to Leicester I scored a hat-trick in the Premier League on my debut and enjoyed my time at The Foxes.

I certainly felt there was credit in my argument that I was an active player who could contribute.

It wasn't volatile in terms of there being any arguments or tantrums. He made his position very clear and I made my position very clear. There was a difference of opinion but there were never any stand-up rows.

Q] What was the first Villa shirt you ever owned?

A] It was passed on to me by my brother-in-law. It was second hand but I treasured it.

It was the shirt that the likes of Andy Gray wore up to about 1979.

I was eight-years-old and I had XL shorts too. I looked ridiculous!

I used to run around in the park with my claret and blue shirt with this blousy pair of shorts. I've still got the shirt!

Q] Is the rumour true that you once burned a £50 note in front of someone in a nightclub?

A] Absolutely NOT! This is one of those urban myths about me that came from Cannock in the mid-1990s.

I am actually one of the tightest people you will ever meet.

In my car now - you can hear the rattling - I have a pot of coins - pounds, tuppences etc.

I can 100% say - as the good lord is my witness - I have never, ever, ever burned any notes in my life.

My mum taught me to keep the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.

Q] What's the biggest regret in your life?

A] It was in my mid-20s and everything was going really well.

I was getting involved in the celebrity side of life and I just wish I'd had had a good mentor, a good life mentor.

I did in terms of my mum but also someone to help and advise me about the football industry and those celeb circles.

I certainly think I would have liked more help in the transition from being a well-known striker at Forest to being a household name at Liverpool and Villa.

I don't think I coped with that always very well.

Merson

Q] Who was the best Villa player you played with and why?

A] I'd pick four.

Dwight scored many, many goals for Villa from day one coming from Trinidad and Tobago. He was a superb all-round player and I always felt he could play midfield, which he did later in his career. He went on to win the treble with Man Utd.

Savo was exceptional in terms of his ability. He had tremendous skill on the ball.

I played some games with Merse too. He didn't lose the touch, the ability to find people with passes or weigh in with goals.

Tayls is still very much involved with the club now as ambassador. He was an all-action midfielder. You talk about Savo and Yorkie who get plaudits for scoring goals but you sometimes forget who gives them the platform to do that. That man was Ian Taylor!

Q] What's the emotion you feel most when you look back at your football career? Pride? Regret? Frustration?

A] A bit of all three.

When I was a kid growing up, the three clubs dominating were Villa, Nottingham Forest and Liverpool and I played for all three of them.

I was a massive England fan and I played for my country at Wembley Stadium.

I was one of only three Villa players to score a European hat-trick. I scored hat-tricks in the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup too.

I was voted into Nottingham Forest's greatest-ever team, a side which also included players who'd won two European Cups. I have a lot of pride.

I have a lot of regret and frustration about my time at Villa.

My well-publicised personal problems collided with me going to the club I supported as a kid.

Some Villa fans say 'ah, you're a Villa fan now but why didn't you show that tub-thumping attitude when you wore the shirt.' I quite simply couldn't! I wish so much that I could have taken my 50 goals in 68 games from Forest into Villa. I could have bordered on being a legend then.

But in terms of frustrations, I would say not getting the chance to play under Sir Alex Ferguson when an opportunity was there too.

Also bearing in mind my goals leading up to getting into the England squad - 50 in 68 - there was a striking pool of Shearer, Sheringham, Fowler, Ferdinand, Cole, Sutton and Dublin who were in and around at that time. I wished I'd have got to the 25 or 30 England caps which I felt my form at Forest deserved.

Q] What is the funniest thing you have ever seen at Bodymoor Heath?

A] Steve Harrison! He was one of the coaches.

He was always one for practical jokes. He always had his shorts pulled up to his moobs. He would walk around in a slapstick way.

He was so funny and always kept training lively.

I remember when I played for Crystal Palace reserves and we were on the way to Brighton.

He was driving the bus through the streets of Croyden going towards the A3. He stopped the bus at a red light, got out, left the engine running and scarpered for several minutes.

We were all thinking 'where the hell has he gone.' The lights changed to green and we had angry motorists behind us papping their horns.

He came back eventually. He thought it was hilarious. There were loads of jokes I could tell you about and plenty I couldn't in a family environment.

Q] If you were a manager, how would you handle Stan Collymore?

A] I'd be honest with him, I'd be upfront and I'd take no-nonsense.

There was a myth that I was a loner. I used to go back to Cannock because that's where my mates were.

There was another myth that I was a troublemaker. I got on with training to the best of my ability like everyone else. I never had rows in dressing rooms except one later on in my career in a reserve game at Leicester with Trevor Benjamin.

Yes I spoke my mind but I was never an advocate of player power in the dressing room, I never back-chatted a manager ever in my career.

Martin O'Neill got it spot on with me at Leicester. He treated me like everyone else, no differently. No better. No worse.

Pick up your tickets for West Ham.

 

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