Have started playing football again now 2x a week from a site called "footyaddicts" it's pretty good and standard is actually pretty decent overall.
I literally haven't played consistently for years and years, but playing recently has made me miss it. I'm a little bit too vocal and aggressive at times though, I just really hate seeing inefficient strategy. For some reason in amateur 5aside and especially 7aside everybody retreats once the ball scores/goes for a goal kick when clearly the best strategy is all to press high up the pitch man for man. The second most annoying thing is people trying long passes when everybodies fitness levels are relatively low. People struggle to play the full 60-90 minutes so giving the ball away is really the worst thing possible. When I'm managing a team I'm very very adamant about exactly what strategy I want the team to follow and can make us do it pretty well, but at these friendly recreational games it's tough to really have a go at somebody, and tougher to have a go at the whole team all at once. I'm sure most people can just let it go and concentrate of fitness and their own passing completion, trying to score a hat trick or whatever, but it really really really infuriates me to see such inefficient play when it's really easy to fix.
Anyway, technically I feel really good, when there's good players in my team I especially do well but the goal is to be as fit ASAP where I'm just at the point of clearly being the best player in any kind of amateur recreational non Organised game.
Football career growing up was kind of strange, I was captain of the county team and we played to a pretty high standard, I was getting really good at one point, it's kind of strange but when I started travelling to Southampton and training and playing with people like Bale, Walcott and Lallana, that whole year I really deterioated as a player. The first time I went down there was 40 people or so and they would choose 11 people at the end of the training camp to be in the squad to play against Wimbledon (now no long a club, but they were basically all 6ft+ black kids from london) I got a slot in the first 11 as a number 7 and I remember very clearly that 7 and 11 had to stand over every set piece together and 11 was Gareth Bale. I thought he was not good at all, he was slow, skinny, but for some reason they loved him. After that I had to do some exams so couldn't go back down for a couple of months. In those months I literally did nothing at all to improve myself, nothing to get better, I just thought I'd done great and I was going to be a footballer now. Everybody knows the story of Bale, he basically locked himself in the gym, became an absolute beast and is now the most expensive player in the worldz
I was one of the best long distance runners in the country for my age, winning gold medals at 1500 against guys who's legs were literally twice as long as mine. One day in around this period of time I just decided that I was going to stop doing it because I couldn't be bothered anymore. I had a running coach as Gosforth Harriers who randomly used to call me Santa Claus Infront of everybody, I was short and stocky and they were really tall and gangly and he hated that I beat them. I was running round the track at 3000m one day and literally give up in the race and thought wtf am I doing this for, all my friends were drinking the night before and having a great time and I'm running around a track in circles??!
We played a game against Liverpool in the national semi final and they had a guy called Charlie Barnett, he was 16 and apparabtly worth £5m and was destined to be the next Alan Shearer. I remember at kick off we were both captains, my job was to not focus on playing technically at all, just stay on his toes and not let him play, following him everywhere. I hardly had a kick and they thrashed us 5-0
Here's a hilarious picture of me as a spotty 15 year old kid from front page of Evening Chronicle
They got my age and position wrong and they did a huge photo shoot of my sliding tackling my dad in the park which was very weird. They ended up losing the photos the next day and wanting us to do it again and was like no chance and just did this photo.
After going back to Southampton I remember very clearly one night being in the players house, Adam Lallana and Lloyd James were getting naked for some local girl on MSN!! My dad text me saying Malcolm Elias (one of the best scouts the country has seen) text him and said the coaches couldn't understand why I couldn't run anymore. I remember sinking heart feeling like if ****ed it up. When it came round to the time of them choosing which guys would get the professional contracts it wasn't surprising the guys who worked hard such as Lallana, Nathan Dyer, Dextor Blackstock and Gareth Bale were the ones who got them. Football is imo 15% skill, 15% luck and 70% hard work. I had the skill, I had the luck of getting a break through but sadly didn't put in the hard work and allowed myself to be the equivalent of an American MTT reg. I remember Jordan Henderson was my age and playing for Sunderland. We played them 3-4x/season, we both played centre mid and he was really bad at the time, nobody could understand why he was at Sunderland and I remember people saying he just works super hard and the coaches love him.
Anyway, I was told it was GG I and I went to Hartlepool on trial. I remember very vividly on the first week that the players were saying there was 3 spots left (at 16-17 there is 4 people who get "contracts" and it's Gg for everybody else) because I had one locked up. I remember how I played each day and I was back to feeling really good. The manager told me to bring my parents tomorrow for a meeting. We rock up and he told me that he thought I was a good player but they were looking more for Patrick Vieras than Patrick Leonard's and again was Gg) at that point I just gave up dreams of being a professional player and never played properly serious since. I was paid to play till around 21 for semi professional team who were really good to me and looked after me. In those leagues at that time ex pros or older guys would kick lumps out of younger guys and then I left for Spain and PokerStrategy and never played a proper serious match since (roughly 7 years ago). I basically just play 5aside for the first time in 6-8 months and be completely ****ed and tell myself I'm going to get fit, but let some reason take over, travelling to play poker especially made it very tough I think.
I have mentioned it previously, but I feel like a lot of my obsession for being good at poker is because of my failures in football, and perhaps one of the reasons for my goal of running a football club or being a manager of a football club is to not leave something in my life as a failure.