Shots midfielder Jake Gallagher tackles our Q&A in typically robust fashion, and remembers the day he incurred the wrath of Steve Evans…
When did you first realise that you wanted to be a professional footballer? From quite a young age. I started playing football when I was about 7 – I didn’t know anything about it, I just played with my friends, and my parents didn’t really take any interest. Then some of the other parents said that my twin brother and I were quite good, so my mum and dad started to come and watch me. They took a real interest and watched all my games, then after about a year Fulham Academy came in and as soon as I was there I grew up. I started to learn about it more and realised that I could become a professional footballer.
What’s your first football-related memory? I just remember playing for my local team, Bookham Colts, every Saturday morning and putting on the yellow jersey, which was quite cool.
Who has been your biggest inspiration? It would have to be my dad, he’s always told me that he could have played a good level of football, if he’d taken it seriously enough, but he never did. Along with my brothers now, who have helped me out a lot.
Do you believe your dad’s boast – could he have played a bit? I do, he does have quite a good left foot – I call it The Wand! I have seen glimpses in charity games, and for Bookham Colts. He scored a hat-trick in one of them so I have to put my hands up!
What team did you support as a boy? I supported Chelsea as I grew up, but I always liked Frank Lampard and John Terry, and as the years have gone on they’re going now so I don’t really support them as much anymore. I was more of a Lampard and Terry fan, so I liked watching them, and certain players in my position – Mark Noble, Lee Cattermole, I like watching them.
Who was your favourite player as a boy? Frank Lampard, definitely, and John Terry as well.
Have you always played in your current position? I have always thought of myself as a midfielder but I did play centre-back for a few years at Fulham. I didn’t really enjoy it, so I spoke to the manager and said that I’d like to play midfield a bit more – I like to run around and get involved going forward.
What is your proudest moment in football? Putting on the England jersey, to represent England C, that has to be it really. I was on the bench for Millwall in the Championship, but I didn’t get on; signing for Welling and scoring on my debut was also a good moment; and signing for Aldershot Town was a great moment, but out of all of them it has to be England.
What is your most memorable game? Difficult one, I’m not very good at remembering games! My last England C game was against Ireland, in Ireland, and I played quite well. I enjoyed that game. I enjoyed my school football a lot, playing with my friends, and we got to the National Cup Final – that was a good game.
Do you have any regrets in football? No regrets at all. I always give my all every time I play, and I like to know that any decisions I have made were right at the time, or anything that has happened I couldn’t have given any more at the time.
Who’s the best coach you’ve worked with? Jamie Day, Dean Frost and Barry Ashby at Welling United. They took me in and really helped me, and supported me. I still stay in touch with them now, they had a big influence on me.
Who is the best player that you’ve played with? There’s a few good players I’ve played with. Neil Harris, at Millwall, was very clever, very experienced and every time he got in front of goal he’d put it away. Everybody at Millwall was always stronger and bigger and more intelligent, they were always difficult to play against, so I can’t really name just one.
What do you remember of your professional debut? My first game for Millwall was a friendly against Crawley Town, and this is my first memory of men’s football coming from under 18s and reserve football. I came on at half-time and within three minutes had made two good tackles, and (Crawley boss) Steve Evans ran on the pitch and started pointing in my face. He wasn’t very happy at all, and (Millwall manager) Kenny Jackett substituted me about 30 seconds after! He said he wanted that in my game but was worried about the media, because it was our first friendly. That’s my first memory in professional football!
What is the best piece of advice that you have received? Just work hard. I’ve been given loads of advice and taken it all in, and I give myself advice. I’d always say that I enjoy working hard – some people find working hard a bit of a chore but if you enjoy working hard I think you get the best out of yourself.
What advice would you give to young players? Just do what makes you happy – if it’s playing football, do it, but don’t do it because someone else does it, your friends do it or your parents want you to do it. Just enjoy what you do, and enjoy working hard in whatever you do, if it’s a gardener or a plumber or a footballer, enjoy working hard and be the best at it.