09:00 - 19 June 2003
The Press and Journal
Ross County defender Brian Irvine answers this week's 20 questions in an interview with Paul Third
Q: how did you first become involved in football? AI was playing for Victoria Park BC when a Falkirk scout spotted me and invited me for a trial. I played one game and was asked back for another match. It was abandoned after 30 minutes, but they signed me anyway. If the game had lasted 90 minutes, maybe the outcome would have been different.
Q: Did you have any boyhood heroes?
A: Alex McLeish and Willie Miller. To actually play with them was incredible. I also loved watching Kenny Dalglish play.
Q: Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
A: Two people. Jim McKerley who was my coach at Victoria and also my Boys Brigade leader. He helped me enormously in football and in life. Alex Ferguson taught me so many things in terms of how to look after myself at Aberdeen and I have lasted so long as a player because of the good habits I learned from him.
Q: Who is the funniest person you have met in the sporting world?
A: Bobby Connor, or 'Roger' as he is affectionately known. He is so laid back while I am quite uptight and anxious. In many ways, Bobby has been therapeutic for me.
Q: What other sports do you take an interest in?
A: I played cricket as a youngster and enjoyed athletics. But I don't play any other sports now and, unlike most footballers, I'm not a golfer.
Q: Who is the most difficult opponent you have faced?
A: Mark Hateley. We had some great battles and he was a fabulous player. I loved an aerial battle and so did Mark, but he was just as good on the ground, which few people gave him credit for.
Q: How has your faith helped you in your career?
A: It has had a massive impact, not just on my career but my life in general. My Christianity is the centre of my life.
Q: What is the highlight of your career?
A: Scoring the winning penalty for Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final against Celtic in 1990. It doesn't get any better than scoring the winning goal for your boyhood heroes in a cup final, does it?
Q: And your lowest point in football?
A: When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1995. At the time I was mentally and physically shattered, although I have gone on to play more games in the eight years since than I did in the 12 years beforehand.
Q: How has the game changed in the time you have been playing?
A: In monetary terms, the game now is a world away from when I started. But everything in football is cyclical and clubs are now cutting the cloth accordingly.
Q: Do you, as a footballer, have any superstitions?
A: No, although I do have some routines which I follow to prepare for games. I don't think I'll have a bad game if I don't pull my left sock up first or anything like that.
Q: How did it feel to play in the world Christian select against Borussia Dortmund last year?
A: It was an amazing experience and watching Fredi Bobic, who I played with last year, turn out for Germany at Hampden recently brought it all back. I still have to pinch myself when thinking about the game.
Q: Why have you lasted so long in the game?
A: I feel very privileged to have lasted this long in football and I think that is my secret. I've always enjoyed football and I've never taken it for granted. The day you don't enjoy playing is the day to give up.
Q: Do you have any regrets in your career?
A: Not signing for Real Madrid! Seriously, my biggest ambition was to sign for Aberdeen and I did it. Had Real Madrid and Aberdeen both asked me to sign for them, I would have chosen the Dons every time. I've exceeded all my expectations in football, so what is there to regret?
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: I'm hoping for another year at County, although I'm getting on a bit. The day is fast approaching when I have to call it a day, but I'm excited about passing on my knowledge to younger players and if I can do that by coaching I'll be delighted.
Q: What sportsmen/women do you admire?
A: I admire the way my fellow Christian Jonathan Edwards has conducted himself, while Alex McLeish has displayed great humility managing Rangers. Alex has probably surpassed everything he did as a player in his brief spell at Ibrox, but I spoke to him just before the Scottish Cup final and he is the same guy I played with at Pittodrie.
Q: If you hadn't been a footballer, what would you be doing?
A: I was working in a bank while at Falkirk and I suppose I would have stayed there had I not been playing.
Q: Describe your three ideal dinner guests and why?
A: My wife Donna is right beside me so I better play it safe and choose her. She is also suggesting my mother-in-law, but that's a step too far. David Beckham would be interesting as I would love to know what he has to say for himself. He could also talk fashion with Donna. My final guest would be Cliff Richard, because of his Christian background. He could always entertain us with a song after the meal.
Q: If you could attend any sporting event what would it be?
A: I was at the Champions League final at Hampden last year and it was terrific. The only way to beat that would be watching a World Cup final.
Q: Who would be in your dream football XI?
A: Claudio Taffarel, Roberto Carlos, Willie Miller, Alex McLeish, Stewart
McKimmie, Ze Roberto, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, David Beckham, Ronaldo,
Henrik Larsson. I hope the team gels.
Copyright © 2003, Northcliffe Electronic Publishing Ltd.