Robbie Blake on Burnley, Ronaldo, Pompey, Ferdinand... and all that jazz

In a festive special, Jimmy Langton interviews Bognor coach Robbie Blake - the former Burnley, Bradford and Leeds striker - about his life in football.

Saturday, 28th December 2019, 12:00 pm
Robbie Blake at Wembley in 2009, when he helped the Clarets win the Championship play-off final to secure promotion to the Premier League / Picture: Getty
Robbie Blake at Wembley in 2009, when he helped the Clarets win the Championship play-off final to secure promotion to the Premier League / Picture: Getty

Robbie, which club have you felt most at home with?

I would say from a playing point of view it would be Burnley. I had such a fantastic time there and the supporters loved me – and still love me.

Who’s the best manager you have played for,and why?

It’s got to be Stan Ternent. He was at Burnley for my first spell, and today, he probably wouldn’t get away with the things he did. In terms of a man manager, Stan would be my favourite manager.

How much do you think you’d be worth in today’s transfer market if you were still playing?

I shall have to be careful how I answer this (laughs) ... I believe I would be worth a lot of money, based on some of the transfers that are happening now. But I always said I had my time and that’s that.

Are there any role models you look up to and why?

I think Cristiano Ronaldo is a player to look up to – the way he looks after himself, the way he does things for charity, which is fantastic, he thinks about other people, certainly in his own country. I think he is a fantastic role model for a young person or footballer to aspire to be a professional.

What was the reason for you joining Bognor?

I was at Portsmouth with Kenny Jackett, but obviously he wanted to bring in his own coaching team. I always enjoyed the pre-season game when we came to Bognor, I saw what a fantastic football club it is and it has always felt it was a good fit for me – I feel at home here.

Should Bognor be higher in the table?

Yes. We are trying, me and Jack, I can assure you we will try everything we can to get there, and I firmly believe we are on course for that. A couple more additions and hopefully we will be right at the top of the league.

What’s your relationship like with Jack?

It’s a nightmare... no, no, no...!! Listen, he is a fantastic person first and foremost, but to be a t a football club for 50 years, Jack’s best interest is Bognor Regis Town Football Club. A lot of people probably don’t see a lot of the other stuff. He’s been great to me and the players. I am relatively new in experience (in coaching) and learning from him. I have my own ideas but it is great to tap into his experience and he’s been fantastic for me – and he has been fantastic for the football club as well.

Which coach do you feel you have benefited from?

The ex-Portsmouth manager Paul Cook. Being with Paul for three years, I saw how to be a manager, how to be a coach, his philosophy, the way he fells you should play. He was very forthright with that. I feel that is the way forward as a coach and manager – you have to stick to your beliefs and how you want to play the game. The way he used to go about things was beneficial for me.

What’s your favourite colour?

It used to be blue but it has to be green now. Jimmy, you have convinced me it has to be green now.

Who are best players you have shared a pitch with?

I would have to say Cristiano Ronaldo, he’s the best. To be honest there were so many good players, there was Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer, Zola. The most difficult player I have played against has to be Rio Ferdinand – I think he was the best centre-half to play against, he was an amazing footballer and one that made me look very average. And there used to be a guy who played for Chelsea named Dan Petrescu and he was an amazing footballer. Sometimes when you play on the same pitch as someone, you are in awe of them.

What steered you into coaching?

Obviously being a footballer, and not really knowing anything else, when coming to the end of my career, I thought I would like to pass on my experience, and hopefully my knowledge, although with some of this season’s early results you would not have thought that! I would like to give back to people. As I said I’m still relatively new to this and am passionate about it, it’s something I really enjoy.

Why did you choose football?

I was nearly ten when I first started playing football. I must have had a little talent there but just did not know. When you come from a rough estate in the middle of Middlesbrough you have to look after yourself. It was getting the ball out, keeping it and I got a passion for it. My mum tried to get me into a jazz band but I was desperately trying to keep playing football, and mum realised I was better at football than jazz and I had the passion for football.