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Career ladder: Chris Day

21 January 2013

Name: Chris Day
Position: Goalkeeper
Date of Birth: 28/07/1975
Club: Stevenage
Previous Clubs: Tottenham Hotspur, Crystal Palace, Watford, Lincoln City (loan), Queens Park Rangers, Aylesbury United (loan), Preston North End (loan), Oldham Athletic, Millwall.

What do you remember about your first ever match?
It was live on Sky Sports against Birmingham City, we lost the game 1-0 but I remember making a save after about 20 seconds of my debut from about two yards out. That was playing for Crystal Palace.

Who was your childhood hero?
I had two - Neville Southall as a goalkeeper then, at the club I supported, there was Erik Thorstvedt, someone I looked up to and got to work with in the end. He was a fantastic pro. I picked up a lot of good habits from Erik that I still put in place to this day.

When did you realise you had a chance to progress in the game?
I didn't go in goal properly until I was 13 or 14 so it all happened very quickly, but I don't know. I suppose when I got my first move, moving away from home, was when it all dawned on me because it's very hard when you come through the ranks at your club and become a pro. It doesn't feel like you have become a pro until you move to a new club. So probably when I joined Palace. 

Which coach has had the biggest influence on your career?
When I was younger a fellow called Micky Payne turned me into a goalkeeper from a centre forward and was very inspirational at the start of my career. There has been a lot of good people I've worked with throughout my career - Ashley Bayes at Stevenage was great to work with, and Alec Chamberlain at Watford - looking at him and seeing how he was playing towards the latter end of his career. He was someone I enjoyed working with.

What did you spend your first wage packet on?
Probably a night out with my mates. Either that or a tank of petrol.

Does your squad number have a special meaning to you?
No. It was the best one available at the time. I've kept it ever since because my friend's boys have got 16 on their shirts and I didn't think it would be fair to change my number because it would cost them more money to get a different number on the back.

Who did you last swap shirts with? 
Carlo Cudicini in a cup game. He didn't ask me for mine so I was very disappointed. I wore the Brad Friedel shirt I've got to a Tottenham game, supporting them against Chelsea, and Cudicini played in goal and Chelsea won 5-1, so that ended in a disaster.

How has the game changed for the better since you became a pro?
The coverage on the TV. Going back to 1987 when the first live game was on television, that wasn't the FA Cup. If you think, when I was 12 I probably saw my first league game on the television. The amount of coverage now, on the news channels etc, you don't have to switch off from football - which could be a good or a bad thing. And then there's the technology - lighter football boots, better gloves, lighter footballs, better surfaces and better stadiums.

If you could have coached yourself when you were a teenager, what advice would you have passed on?
To stand up for myself a bit more. In the old days, when I was a YT boy, we had to do lots of jobs - including sweeping the terraces and cleaning up after the first team. I was too much of a pushover. If you told me to do 10 jobs instead of one, I would have done it. Saying that, I can't help the way I was brought up to do things, although my wife would probably laugh at that now.

If you stay in the game at the end of your career, what will you do? a) Manager b) Coach c) Scout d) Physio e) Pundit?
Probably all of them, except for a physio. I've done a bit of punditry and coaching in the past and I've even managed my pub team before, and I think I've got a good eye for a player and formation and I know the game pretty well, so I think I'd do all four if I could.

What do you want to be best remembered for at the end of your career?
If anyone that worked with me mentioned me and their first reaction was 'what a nice bloke he was', that would do for me, first and foremost.

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