23 April 2013

CRO talks to Lee McCulloch

by @PamelaRFC | Guest Contributor

How did I come to speak with our captain Lee McCulloch?

Image provided by @TheGamesArtist
On an evening a few months ago, I was driving and when I checked my Twitter, I got the notification: "@Jiggymac6 is now following you". I had to park my car to check it twice. I never asked or begged for a follow, it was just one of Lee’s friendly actions towards the fans.

This action by Lee, is how I see him, a true gentleman with a heart for the fans. After the follow, he read my blog and we started talking about youth football and the Feyenoord academy.

I had never interviewed someone before, and I was honoured that he said yes to an interview, "of course we can do that", he said. So during the past weekend, I asked him a few questions, and here’s the result;

Being Dutch my very first question is, what do you think of Dutch football in general?

Jig: "I think Dutch football is of a very good standard and I enjoy watching the higher profile league games, but more so the national team and their style of play and formation of 4-2-3-1."

Do you follow the Dutch Eredivisie?

Jig: "I don't really follow the Eredivisie but I am well aware of the teams competing. Like Ajax, who are very good in Europe, and Vitesse Arnhem, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord. I'm also impressed with the way the youth system works in general."

How was your own youth Lee, did your school promote youth football, or did you play for a youth team outside of school? And at what age did you start?

Jig: "I played with the school team through to signing the S-form, then I went to the Youth Training Scheme. When I was young I was always kicking a ball around the streets or the garden, playing with friends every night at the local park as soon as we got home from school until it got dark at night."

What was your biggest football influence?

Jig: "My parents and my two brothers! Since I can remember I played football with my brothers and we used to watch it on telly as a family!"

Do your brothers still play football?

Jig: "No, they went on a different path from myself."

About your time down south, in Wigan, have you seen anything there that was good or bad in the youth set-up?

Jig: "Wigan was establishing itself as we went through the leagues really fast and they have moved with the times, it helps also with the chairman being of great support to the club! The youth set-up at the moment is really good and no doubt it will only get better, it's a real family club with amazing supporters and structure."

How do you think clubs in general would help to get more kids involved and to make playing more cheaper for kids?

Jig: "I think the clubs at the minute are doing really well to try and get the kids involved and to make them progress through the ranks. Certainly at Rangers the youth system is really good and well managed."

What advice would you give to young people trying to get into the game?

Jig: "The advice I would give to any young kids is to go and enjoy your football and play with a smile on your face. Work as hard as you can and be prepared to make sacrifices along the way and practice as much as you can."

Back to yourself, what's the secret of keeping so fit at your age?

Jig: "I think just eating the correct things, looking after your body and realising that rest is just as important as a work out. I stretch a lot as well and keep hydrated to prevent injury!"

After the training, how do you relax?

Jig: "I like to come home and relax on the sofa after training, then pick the kids up and enjoy time as a family. I like a round of golf also and it helps to keep me relaxed."

If there was a time machine, and you could play a historical football game, which game would you choose?

Jig: "I wouldn't go back to a specific game - I would go back to an era of the Rangers team with Ally McCoist and Paul Gascoigne. Those type of players. I would have loved to have played just one game with them for Rangers, just like any other fan I suppose."

What's your favourite ground you have played outside Ibrox?

Jig: "I've enjoyed the San Siro with Scotland, and Old Trafford with Rangers and Wigan."

Lee, as you probably know, my all time hero is Gazza. I admire him so much, I watch clips of him every night before I go sleep. Who’s your hero?

Jig: "My hero is Gazza, remembering his free-kick for Spurs at Wembley and his amazing displays at Newcastle. Then to come to the team I support and light the place up with his skill and personality. I was lucky enough to play against him and worshipped him that much that I didn't really want to tackle him! He played with passion, commitment and also with a smile on his face. The way I feel football should be played. The Aberdeen game with the Gazza hat-trick sends shivers down my spine, he is and always will be my footballing hero!"

Big thanks to Lee McCulloch for taking the time for me, it was a pleasure to speak with him. He's a real captain and an example for other, younger players on how to go on with the fans. Lee's words on Gazza touched me and brought a wee tear in my eye. Gazza is our hero.

Jig, you are a legend yourself!