JB) You began your career with Manchester City, signing your first professional contract in 1993. That happened with the backdrop of Peter Swales being ousted and Francis Lee coming in as Chairman. What affect, if any, did that have on your decision to sign for the Blues?
JW) For me, I would have signed whoever had taken over. It was a boyhood dream to play football professionally at any level to be honest with you, but for Manchester City it was very special to me. So, when anything ever happens at the board level, going through my career now, and looking back, it doesn’t ordinarily change anything on the player’s side, as long as you’re still playing football and enjoying it.
The only time it gets trouble is if the Chairman can’t afford to pay the wages. Then it’s a different story, but otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed my time, in the beginning, at Manchester City.
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JB) I can imagine that would be an issue if the Chairman couldn’t afford to pay the wages. I don’t think the current Chairman has that issue, so that’s good.
So your first senior game came at Maine Road in an FA Cup fixture against Bradford as a substitute. How did that feel to finally get on the field in front of your own fans?
JW) I’ve tried to put this into words before and it’s indescribable really. When there’s 30 or 40 odd thousand people cheering it’s quite phenomenal. You know, when you’ve play football and you’ve watched the first team, sitting in the stands, and watching so much talent coming through the ranks you often wonder if it’s ever going to happen to you. I was getting a little bit older than some of the others who had made their debut. I knew I was playing well and they named me as the other sub and my chance came about. Remarkably it was one of the best ever games I played for City. It was thoroughly enjoyable. I was so relaxed. No one knew me, which was great and the pressure’s off and the lads were great with me.
JB) Nice. So you were relaxed and everything so that’s good. That helps a lot.
JW) Yeah, that is massive because when the nerves kick in it can affect your touch. When mind games start kicking in aswell that can affect your game. So the two were null and void with me so I just went on and expressed myself.
JB) And then you went down to Portsmouth for your first start, your first league appearance. Tell us more about your mind before that game. The travel down and the moment Frank Clark let you know you were starting.
JW) We ran through some team sheets the day before and I was called in, so I knew I was playing then. And, to be honest, that nights sleep wasn’t great to be fair. Just wondering. I hope I perform well. I’ve had such a good start that people were expecting more then. So all this is going through the head and, you know, that was probably a tougher game than my debut. Actually I just kept that under my belt. So, a lot going through my head, but, as you were told coming through the ranks, just get the first ball and play it easy. Try and ease into the game, and that’s how we tried to play that one.