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Champions League to go to the wire - 06/05/2003

   Newcastle United

On Friday I firmly believed that both Newcastle and Chelsea would pick up three points and move closer to Champions League qualification. But with only Newcastle managing to get the points, it was amazing to see both Chelsea AND Liverpool lose. I see that SKY are now showing three big games on Sunday, the two relegation battles featuring Bolton and West Ham and the massive Chelsea v Liverpool game.

Iím hoping for a Chelsea victory as Iíd love them to follow Newcastle into the money spinning Champions League. Iíve said it before and Iíll say it again, both Chelsea and Newcastle deserve to perform in Europeís premier competition Ė whilst Liverpool donít. Having said that, the fact that itís come done to the final game with both sides facing each other is like a £15m cup final. As an ex-player Iíll be willing Chelsea to victory, but if Liverpool do manage to get a win Ė then hats off to them Ė theyíve done it the hard way!!

I was interviewed recently for the web site, the transcript is below...

joined the Blues a season after the Premiership started. How did you feel about leaving Newcastle and what was it like playing on the biggest stage in England?

wasnít a football decision to leave Newcastle, it was purely down to family reasons, but on Chelsea I hadnít realised just how big the club was and is. It was incredible to be part of the Newcastle promotion team, but that was on a regional basis. I was amazed how many Chelsea fans there were and that playing for the club seemed to get you national exposure.

your first season, you also scored twice against Man United- we won both games 1-0. What were your thoughts having scored the goal that beat the then-champions- twice?!?!

It was quite incredible. Scoring the winner in the first was great, but to do it agins at Old Trafford was beyond all expectations. I remember the first, a Clarke shot rebounded to me off Schmeichel and I chipped the ball over him into the net. At Man Utd Craig Burley and Mark Stein had opened up the play, as the ball came to me a looked up and once again lobbed it over Schmeichel. I also remember getting back to London and having a great night out!

That year you also helped the Blues to the FA Cup final- was that your most memorable season as a player?

It was certainly the most memorable for the big games. Iíd had the terrific promotion season with Newcastle, but with Chelsea I also got into a few of the England training squads Ė so I was doing well and getting the recognition. Scoring the goal in the semi-final was also fantastic, we drove back to the Bridge and fans were all over the place, it was quite an experience.

In that Cup final, Blues fans widely regard your shot that hit the bar as the turning point in the match- what if it had gone in and the Blues had won the cup that year. How do you think a goal like that could have impacted your career?

Well, without doubt it was a turning point in the game. If weíd got that one Iím sure weíd have won the game. Instead they got a goal and we were chasing it after that point. I also think that if itíd gone in, psychologically they may have thought ĎPeacock scoring againí and wonder if history was going to repeat itself?

When Ruud Gullit took over as Blues boss it appeared to be the beginning of the end for you at Chelsea- were you disappointed to have left just 6 months before the club won itís first piece of silverware for years, or did first team football mean more to you than that?

The only reason I left was because of Ruud - nothing else. He didnít play me and he didnít talk to me. If heíd taken me to one side and told me that he saw me as a squad player, I could have accepted it. Perhaps Iíd have hung in and fought for my place, but there was no communication and I simply had to move on. It was the same with Johny Spencer (who I still keep in contact with Ė heís in the States with Colorado Rapids). I did see them win at Wembly and I was genuinely pleased for the boys.

Who was your best friend at Chelsea? Do you still keep in contact with anyone from the club?

I was good mates with Tony Cascarino, Scott Minto, Paul Elliott and Dennis Wise. I used to travel into training with Johny Spencer and we maintained the friendship at QPR and as Iíve said, to the present day.

What are your thoughts on the current Chelsea team? Are there any players that especially stand out for you?

he three players that really stand out are Zola, Lampard, and Terry. What ca you say about Zola thatís not already been said? Lampard has come in very well this season and John Terry will get even better. Thereís quality all through the side and they deserve to be up there with the best.

Ken Bates- irritating ogre, or gentle giant?

I always got on very well with Ken, he was always fine to me. I think he looks for honesty in players and if he sees it, then they have his respect. Itís his club, he pays big money to the players and I donít think itís unreasonable that he should expect commitment from his players.

Growing up as a youngster, which player did you idolise?

Two players that were later to become managers and sign me! Keegan being the first and Hoddle the second. I also rated Bryan Robson very highly and had all three of their posters in my bedroom.

You played for a number of different teams in your career- which times do you look back on most fondly?

For goals and a wonderful time it was Newcastle. For the big games and recognition it was Chelsea. But I spent the longest time at any club with QPR and after having spent two spells there, itís probably QPR who I hold the greatest affinity with. Saying that, Iím proud to have played for all the clubs Iíve been with. I look for the scores of all my teams and enjoyed a good relationship with all the fans.

Do you have any regrets from your football career?

I donít. Iíve enjoyed every part of my career and the time spent at all the clubs. I was lucky enough not have picked up any serious injuries and I suppose the only thing thatís missing was an international cap.

How about any plans to go into management or coaching?

Iíve learnt never to say never, but Iím enjoying my media work and have no plans to go into coaching or management at present. Kevin Keegan played golf for seven years in Spain before coming back to football, so who knows?

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