We caught up with Damon Lathrope to ask a few key questions about his career – and why he has bad memories of facing Reading!
When did you first realise that you wanted to be a professional footballer? From as early as I can remember, really. My uncle (Paul Buckle) was a professional too, so it was in the family. From playing at school, it was all I ever wanted to be.
What’s your first football-related memory? In my nan and grandad’s garden, or my own garden with my old man, I used to be out there every day with him throwing balls up in the air or me smashing the ball at him when he’s stood in the garage. All day every day in the garden messing about. My dad had a bit of ability as well, to be fair to him.
Who has been your biggest inspiration? My family have been really supportive, up to this day they support me week in, week out, through the good and the bad.
What team did you support as a boy? Tottenham Hotspur. I’m a North London boy and my family have always been Spurs.
Who was your favourite player as a boy? Even though he wasn’t a Spurs player I would probably say David Beckham. I always wanted his boots and to ping the ball like him. I tried to learn from his style, but I didn’t do too well!
Have you always played in your current position? When I was really young at Norwich City I played left-back for the Reserves, believe it or not! I think because I could use my left foot and there weren’t many others who could. But I’ve always been a midfielder really.
What is your proudest moment in football? Probably playing in the League Two Play-Off Final. Or turning pro, that’s always a big deal, getting your first professional contract.
What is your most memorable game? The 2011 League Two Play-Off Final (Torquay United lost 1-0 at Old Trafford). It was against Stevenage, my local team, so I had a lot of mates in the stands, in the Stevenage end. It was a good occasion.
Do you have any regrets in football? No I don’t, no. Obviously I’d like to be playing at a better level but I don’t regret any moves or decisions that I’ve made.
Who’s the best coach you’ve worked with? Paul Buckle. He got the best out of all the youngsters (at Torquay United), we had a really good young group of players and a lot have gone on to have long careers and are still in the game now, which is quite rare for a lower League team.
Who is the best player that you’ve played with? Probably Wes Hoolihan at Norwich City.
What do you remember of your professional debut? Coming on (as a substitute) against Reading, in the Carling Cup, and them scoring a last-minute winner. It’s not good. (Grzegorz Rasiak scored in injury-time at the end of extra-time at Plainmoor to give Reading a 1-0 win)
What is the best piece of advice that you have received? Don’t regret what you do, only regret what you don’t do. Don’t go out there and hide, or wish you’d done something when you come off the pitch. Everyone’s going to make mistakes, we’re all human, but the worst thing you can do is go out there and not be brave.
What advice would you give to young players? Enjoy yourself. You get the best out of your ability when you’re having fun. Obviously you have to work hard, that goes without saying, but enjoy yourself and be confident. Confidence is everything.