The Absurd SecretsThat Made United Unbeatable : Rio Ferdinand | E76 | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "The Absurd SecretsThat Made United Unbeatable : Rio Ferdinand | E76".

1970-01-04T11:42:35.000Z

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Introduction

Intro (00:00)

I don't see barriers. Hard work every day is lifestyle. It should be like the standings, the dedication, the tension to detail. I just wanted to be the best. I was not obsessed with it. My kids lost, they lost their mum. I got to understand mental health for making a documentary. It's allowed me to kind of speak and show vulnerability that people probably were never used to. The great part of it is that you walk down the street, an old age lady, or a man come up to you, you know what? The throats all croaky and I watch a programme. I never spoken before really. You help me. My next phase of my life, when someone sees me in 10, 20 years, so that's where I pay for my United, I haven't really done what I'm here to do to set it and set it up to do. Do I even need to introduce my next guest? Rio Ferdinand, former football player, one of the most decorated English footballers of all time as a man United fan, probably one of my favourite players of all time ever. He's played alongside some of the greatest players ever, but he's also been managed by the best manager ever. I grew up as a Manchester United fan watching him, idolising him. And now, he's my mate. So this is going to be a fairly interesting conversation. After retiring, he's become a sports commentator for BT Sport. He's become an author, he's become an entrepreneur, he's the founder of a charity, a foundation. He's an executive director, which we'll talk about today as well. And as you're here, he's also so much more. Some things that you probably wouldn't expect. He's also a husband and a dad. When that's experienced, tremendous unthinkable tragedy. Tragedy, I pray that most of us will never know. Rio is a special guy. Not least for what he's achieved on the field, but for who he is. And today, you're going to find out who he actually is, the philosophy to life that he swears by. And the culture required to win in an ambitious career, but also the culture required to win in your personal life.


Football And Personal Reflections

What made you chose football? (01:58)

Without further ado, I'm Stephen Bartlett, and this is the DiR over CEO. I hope nobody's listening. But if you are, then please keep this to yourself. I'm trying to find the right words to ask this question because it's one dive I haven't seen been asked in previous interviews of you, but what are the key things that happened when you were very, very young that made you choose football as your future or enabled you to take that path? Because a lot of kids grew up in London, a lot of kids do a lot of things, they have a lot of passions. But for some reason, as I read through your story, football was this ballet as well, but football was the path that you chose to take above all other things. Yeah, it's a good question. Because when I was young, I was into everything. I weren't running around on the estate. I was doing gymnastics a couple of times a week. I was doing ballet. I was obviously playing football, doing athletics. I was doing a drama class. Why were you doing all those things there? Because I just was interested in it all. I liked it. I enjoyed it. And my mum and dad were really, my mum especially were really like, if you like something, go and do it. Try it. They were always like that. Go and do it. What's the worst it can do is you don't enjoy it. I should do karate sometimes as well. And I got to a point, I think I was like 13 or 14 years old. And obviously my dad was having to come from East like, obviously we live in South London. He'd drive to East, North East London, drive home, pick me up from school, take me to West London to play football. Back to dropping friends off on the way. It's hard graft. And in the end, I got to 13, 14 years old and my dad said, "Listen, you're doing a lot at the moment. You're going to burn yourself out. So let's just pick something that you really enjoy and you want to do and just go for it." And I was like, it was that an easy conversation. It was difficult in that I had to let down and I thought and disappoint Central School of Ballet, where I was doing it, which is a real, like a top school in London, in Farringdon. And I made good friends there. And the other stuff I wasn't too that concerned about it, but four years, I was a three or four years. I was at the Central School of Ballet, so I got good relationships there, told them I couldn't do it. And then went full throttle and full steam ahead with football. And it was just, it was the best decision I've ever seen made in my life in that sense. But I knew that that was my passion. I liked the other stuff. I enjoyed doing the other stuff. There were good distractions from what was probably going on in my estate as well, probably my parents' thought like that as well. But football was just something that I got up every day from when I knocked on my friend's ass, borrow a shipple, scone play football, etc. Ballet, interesting one. A lot of people don't know that you did ballet, but it sounds like you did at a pretty good level. Yeah, I've done gymnastics at the London Olympic Games, and they obviously, I didn't notice there were scouts there from ballet schools, or someone was watching our family friends there, and they said, "He looks like I don't know what I had, or what I was, my posture or something like that looks good to be a ballet dancer." So I went there, and I wasn't really one for saying no to stuff. I was like, "I'll try anything." And they said, "And one of the reasons I was going to be able to get off my estate, meet new people, new girls maybe, as a young kid." And then it was in a different part of London travelling, so I'd done it. It's funny, I read a tweet the other day, which is kind of linked to something you said there, and it said, "On the way up, say yes to everything." When you get to the top, start saying no to everything. And it's like, and I'm almost saying that as well when the conversation we're having now about the stuff you're up to now. Try it. What's the worst lead that can happen? As long as it's not a health issue, I might fail. I might not be good at it. I might fail. Who cares? Is that what a boxing? I wanted to go trying to be from a professional footballer. This trying to be a professional boxer. Crazy. Yeah. But what's the worst that can really happen? I lose the fight. My life goes on. That's it. But some people, they can't allow their ego to be squashed maybe at a certain point, or their pride. And they're sitting there as this macho person. They can't feel vulnerable at any point. And when you try things, there is an element of vulnerability that comes with that. Because you're opening yourself up. You're leaving yourself a bit wide open for criticism for failure. But I'm not scared of failure. I never have been. I'm not fearful of it. And that's what I try and put in my kids. If you foul, what? Get up and go again. People, like they trap themselves in their career in their sense. They're sort of self-identity because we were talking before we started chatting about like, me trying to resist my labels now, I've left social chain. They think they are in X. But from a very, very young age, and I'm kind of connecting the dots now through the rest of your life and even now, you were a kid on the state in Peckham. And that is an identity. That's not one that's also conducive with ballet. No, it's just such a different end of the spectrum. You just wouldn't associate one with the other. And again, we were speaking just as you mentioned before, before we came on here. One of the things that my mum used to say to me is that don't let anyone tell you what you are. Don't be pigeonholed. I mean, you go and find out and explore and find out what you are. And you've got to have experiences to get to that point. It's not going to happen overnight. It's not going to happen in your childhood, not in your teens. When you get to become an adult, you'll start working your way and finding out who you are and what you are. And I've always thought that, so going to ballet school, I could have been ridiculed. My mates, I was one of the boys on the estate. But at the same time, I was confident enough that, "Oh, you're going ballet? Laughing. I don't care." I know I'm good at football. I'm the fastest runner on the estate in my age group. I can keep up with older boys. Because I go ballet, there's nothing wrong. Who are you? To answer that question, your mum's telling you to go out and find out who you are. Did you ever answer that question? Not really. I think that question you don't really answer it in the end. I think you're always evolving. It's like, for instance, something you said earlier, prick my ears about, you said more or less the same thing just in a different way, probably a more eloquent way, about not wanting to be pigeonholed. And my aim in my life now, people think you've played football and you've done all these amazing things as a footballer. I've done really well at football. I acknowledge that. But it's a slight understatement. But that's not enough for me. My next phase of my life, I don't want to be remembered. I mean, someone sees me. My success in my next phase of life is when someone sees me and says, "That's real. Do you know real?" And they mentioned something that I'm doing or I've done around that time. Not that's real as a footballer. If people were in 10, 20 years, so that's where I paid for my United, I ain't really kicked on. I haven't really done what I'm here to do to set out to do, which is to evolve and become something different and make something of myself somewhere else. I think my family were a lot like that. Whether my mum was successful or not, they were always to us, make something of yourself, be something. There's no barriers to that. So that's the way I've always thought about things. What if I said to you now, how would you feel if I said you couldn't ever do anything else? The football thing was it, and now just... I just laughed. It would make me laugh because I don't see barriers. And I'm fortunate as well, by the way. I understand that I've got to a position where there are a lot of boundaries that have been put down for me to skip over because of my career as a footballer. And you're getting that now as someone who's been really successful in your field. So you see the colour and age, et cetera, get put to the side because we acknowledge what you've done. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so we do sometimes have a... There's not as big a barrier to entry for certain things for us, but then you've still got to go in and produce. You've still got to go and prove yourself. And so even things that I've gone on the board now for a company, the gym group as a net. Oh, really? Yeah, which is out of my comfort zone because I like fitness, but I don't understand the business behind that and what goes into having a 125, 180 sites and managing that. And there's a property arm and there's a commercial arm and there's a market and they're all coming together under one umbrella and having to manage all that and to be a part of those conversations. That stuff is what I'm super interested in that type of stuff in the workings behind the mechanics of all these type of businesses in different industries. So that's like... Do you know that you're depth? Yeah, but I always find something what I can clear onto that I just try and find something within a conversation that would allow me to gain confidence through talking in that conversation. Do you know what I mean? I might not understand everything. And when the conversation's finished and the laptop's closed, I'll be somewhere looking and finding out. I didn't understand that I'll call that person back or I'll call someone on that call just to clear up a few things I haven't quite grasped. But there'll be something within that conversation where I feel that I can add some sort of value. That I think all of that is a very, again, very synonymous as to why you're like even sat here today because a lot of people in that situation would age as fucking avoid it from the jump. And then B, if they encounter something they don't understand on the call, they'll probably bounce then or they definitely wouldn't inquire because by inquiring you're actually making yourself vulnerable. Yeah. A lot of people don't want to avoid vulnerability, right? I'm being exposed. And it's so funny that the people that... From what I'm hearing from you, like the people that achieve the most success are the ones that are at some point willing to look fucking stupid. Yeah, you've got to. No one gets to where they're going to get on the cleanest without a bump on the road. You don't get... You have to have bumps in the road to be able to get there to experience them vulnerable moments so that when you are there, you know what it's like. And then you can drag people up with you and you become stronger with more people. So I always think... There's a lot of people when they get to the top and the top of the mountain on their own and don't want to bring no one up. I don't agree with that. I'm always like, I want to share and help. Because that is the foundations of me being stronger for a longer period of time and can sustain success. But it is... I don't know. It's an important thing for me as well, which I'm never scared to do is to ask questions. Like, it's the same thing with football. You don't understand something. I'm not a manager telling you or a coach telling you. Don't go away and have a bit of a blurred idea of what it is. Because then you're going to be judged on that, not understanding and not executing. It's going to repeat. Exactly. So you want good habits, but you've got to understand what it is before you can create that habit. So that's what I'll try and always ask questions if I'm wrong, if I feel I'm not sure. And I'll definitely ask questions. Isn't that crazy? You've achieved all the success. You're a football legend. And yet you're still voluntarily throwing yourself into really uncomfortable situations, which you don't need to be in. In terms of finance, anyway, you don't need to be in terms of a cognitive status. You don't need to be there. And it's funny because there's loads of people that aren't... Haven't achieved that, that will never throw themselves into uncertainty. But again, this is probably why you're saying it. They're the ones that stay where they are. Yeah, exactly. They don't grow. They don't. And all those people who will stay there, some of them are like, "Oh, I just want to stay here." But a lot of them are scared to open up because of that vulnerability and then feeling silly if they're told that you got it wrong. But it's not... I'm not like that. Everyone's on this earth for different reasons. And some people are happy just to be staying in a situation they're in and be very happy just going along that road and no spikes or drops.


Culture of avoid discomfort (13:30)

I'd rather have a drop at some point. But to get... I know that spikes are going to come somewhere through being able to do the things we're talking about. Quick one, starting from the minute the lockdown is lifted. We're going to start bringing in some of our subscribers to watch how this podcast is produced behind the scenes. Means you get to meet the guests, meet myself and see how we put all of this together. If you want that to be you, all you've got to do is hit the subscribe button. In your group chat with your friends from your estate. I heard there's a group chat. I've been doing the research. I didn't need to research your career because I was there watching. But just... It was intrigued by when you said you got this group chat with your friends from back home and stuff. And one of the topics of conversation is something that I talk about a lot in this podcast, which is there's a growing culture of softness, dare I say, and avoiding discomfort. And also there's this crazy thing on Instagram at the moment, which is like demonizing hard work. Because of the mental health revolution we've had and everyone's a great thing and everyone's aware of the impact of this thing called mental health. Now this other thing, which is like, well, you can overwork and you can burn yourself out and hard work. If I advise it as an entrepreneur, even though I've never met someone or had anyone sit in this seat who didn't work hard, then I'm somewhat toxic because I'm telling people that's a success. Success and hard work. Yeah. Yeah. And it's like you're looking down on people almost. And I don't agree with none of that. I've got to be honest. Work hard, man. That should be just an absolute normal ask of any person. And I always keep talking about my kids because they're a big part of my life. But that's all I talk about my kids. When they talk to me about school, football, washing up, you're sure that's what's been one of the great things that we've had a lot of negativity about the COVID for a long time. And I think that's a great thing to do with the COVID situation in this country, staying at home, et cetera, at homeschooling. They're one of the great things to come out of it for us as a family. These kids know their chores and they're doing them properly. And that's why I say, do your chores right because them habits there will lead on to other things in your life going forward. Your football stuff, you won't take shortcuts. You're taking shortcuts over your work, shortcuts with your football, shortcuts making your bed, shortcuts with your schoolwork, homework, et cetera. High standards everywhere. But are you scared that because they've grown up in a different circumstance to what you had? I always have this conversation going, are you? You know what you're not going to say? Yeah, I'm trying to instill that in them. How do you do that when they live in a really nice house? And they've got... That is... The guy who comes up with the answers for that is the main man. Because it's so difficult. I was doing a podcast yesterday with Eddie Hahn. And he's like the generation my children are. So his father was well off, successful. And he was where my children are now. And he was saying one of the things that he was scared of being that rich kid. Yeah. And so he done everything not to go out and work and to have a hard work and mentality and to be a success himself. Our friend, Umar, is the same. Umar is exactly. So Umar's all free of them, by the way. All free of them, all free of them, all free of them, all the come on, you kids. Do you mean they're exactly the same in terms of they've gone out to... They never had to work. Their parents would spoil them. And they've all knuckled down and said, "Yeah, we've been given an opportunity. Now you've got to go and execute. And they've gone and executed beyond belief. And I see my mood. Who's the father of Umar and the guys. And this is what I say to a man, you must be so happy, man. What do you mean? Your kids, man, what they're doing, how hard they work, created these wicked businesses.


How did they create high standards at Old Trafford? (17:26)

But you gave them an opportunity. But what they've done with that, you can't be disappointed. You said, "No, man." You said, "For me to sit here and just see them, what they're doing, what they're doing." That's where I want to be, man. And it doesn't matter how much money you make or how big of a business. My success as a parent is that my kids get up every day. They got a work ethic and they do stuff to the best of their ability. If they do that, whatever job they're in, they do that. And I think you've laid the foundations for a good life for your kids. Whether it's in... You talk there about having high standards has been one of the really important things for your kids. It's just something that clearly was demonstrated when you got to all traffic. And you joined Manchester United for that record transfer. But how did they create high standards at all traffic versus the other clubs you'd played at, West Ham and Leeds, etc. What was it they were doing that kept those standards so high? You then also talk about going to QPR and seeing low standards and certain type of negativity in the changing room. But what was it that they were doing or not doing? Because I want to create high standards in my team and within my life say... Good habits. Right. Every day good habits. Whether it's punctuality. Again work ethic. Attention to detail. Intensity. When you're training on a training pitch. Respect to each other. All those things just... They come together and it creates a culture at the club. And I've been at West Ham, I've been at Leeds. Two very good clubs. Great clubs. But they didn't have that culture which meant there was an ability to win. But it starts in some ways. Alex Ferguson already won at Aberdeen. So he knew how to create that culture. He went to the United. Didn't have that winning mentality at the time when he went there. He created that. And it all stems I always think great leadership is definitely what gives you an opportunity to be successful. And I noticed that throughout my career. And when you've set the foundations and you've created that culture. You don't as a leader have to be there every day in that sense. He was at a training ground every day. How many times do you think he came into our change room? No idea. You wouldn't feel one hand. Really? No. Never came into a change room. In the training ground. Where they're every day. Because he knew that the culture was set and then he had lieutenants like me, GIG-Z, Gary Neville, etc. Who were then filtering that down to any of the younger players on new science. Who didn't know the culture yet. And then those players became the culture leaders. And so it was crazy man. And even for instance if he wasn't at a training ground watching training. Training intensity might drop that little 1%, 2%. But you'd notice it because the manager's not there. Because he wasn't in the building. Because he wasn't there. You didn't feel him that aura that he could be on his phone making bets. Which he normally would be. Not interested in training. But his presence alone was enough. And it just made me look back and you think leadership is just key. And we're talking about investing earlier. Yeah. You're not investing in the leader. The people. The people. It's so important I think. I think every industry is like that. Football is where I'm from. And that's where it's like there. But I see what since I've retired. That's replicated in other industries. 100%. Isn't it funny as well with culture. Because what you said there is basically like something I used to think at social change. Which is if the culture is strong enough new people become like the culture. If this culture is weak. The culture becomes like the new people. 100% to me. You couldn't have put it any better. And I'll give you an example. Like. And again I didn't say as eloquently as that when I was playing football. But. Berbertov came to me in the United. Oh yeah. Casual Babes. He was wicked player. Beautiful touch. Sexy looking footballer. Wicked. And before big champions league and my fingers Barcelona. He just weren't working hard enough for a team. And I had to go on this side of the pitch and I needed him to come over and help. He's just walking like that. And I ended up just kicking the ball off and going crazy. Will you do get over? What's wrong? Wait. When I get over then we'll do it. And that's again. That's not our culture. At Barcelona they play. They wait. That's their culture. That's not our culture. You want to play Barcelona? Go Barcelona. Here it's not the same. And if you don't buy into our culture you won't be here long. And that's the way it was at United. If you came and you weren't in the culture you didn't buy into the culture and immerse yourself in it and become part of the fabric of a place. You weren't there more than a year or two. Oh you definitely wasn't an integral member of that squad. And so it was definitely like you say the culture is just you have to become part of that culture that you go into if it's strong enough. You see this in business. It's crazy. I feel like the perspective you've got from being in that changing room. It's the same principles in business. It was the same at social chain when we grew the company. And I realized that I had to be like did you drive that? 100%. And it got to the point where what you've described is people would understand who we were without us having to say and you would have your disciples basically introducing new people to the company and going that's not a social chain thing to do. And we get that all the time. You'd say people in the office would go and for example at the other point I was going to say is when the culture is that strong it's so easy to see when someone doesn't fit or they don't stand out. We had someone start on their first day at social chain and they're doing their initiation. And then at the end of the initiation they did two middle fingers and then walked back to their desk. I said go get him. We fired him. He's gone. First day at social chain. And then the second instance where and it sends a message to the team because they I never knew it was instinctive to me. I said that's not for a chain person. Get them out. There's another instance where we had a girl join who someone had hired and they told me that she used to like bully people at her last place and she had like a really bad attitude and stuff. And actually one of the guys two of the guys on our team said oh yeah we used to work with her and she was a bit of a bully. So I remember having the conversation and I said you can't like in a very very nice way I said she can't be here tomorrow because that's not who we are here. And my team were like but we need her for this client. We need her for this project. I was uncompromising. I said no we're not having her here. I don't care if we lose the job. I can't I used to say to my team I can't have my name attached to a culture like where we have people in it who are like that. So she's gone today. I think we'll figure it out if we lose the client whatever and it wasn't until years later that you hear the team come back to you and they say that moment where you weren't willing to let that person we needed in the team because they weren't right for the culture. The team said that to me. That's exactly what I hear from you. I'm not blowing smoke at my own ass because I didn't realize that you've recognized that. It wasn't intentional. I wanted to enjoy my life in the company to be a really really clear certain way and I felt that that's what we needed to do to succeed. I'm in hindsight and as you say it to me I'm like oh yeah. It was being unnegotiable right? Yeah and that's what a Sir at Ferguson was great at. If he saw something that was going to be detrimental to the culture of the club. It was out. That was an unnegotiable. Even if you needed them. I'm sorry you look at Roy King. Yeah yeah. He's the captain. He was the leader. The rules were broken. You're gone. David Beckham. Peak of his powers. Yeah. Going out of a Spice Girl. Bringing all sorts of eyeballs to the football club. Making an international play. See you later. Yap Stan. The best center half in the world at the time. Said something about some of the players in a book or something. Goodbye. Rud van Isteroy. The best number nine in the world at the time. Goodbye. If you don't fit the culture and you don't adhere to the rules that are there. Good night. And we'll move on. And we'll build around other people. It's crazy. At the time you sit there and you think, "Bex, you can't sell Bex, man. Jesus, who's going to come in like..." Number seven. So was all the shirts. Everyone loves him. Whether we go with Bex is like a Beatles. Like crazy. Same with Rud van Isteroy. You're thinking, "How are we going to score goals now, man? Who's going to score us the goals?" Rudney and Renaldo are really young, still inexperienced. But he had that belief and that vision just to like, it was the culture over everything. No one's been in the club. No one's been in the club. It's so true, man. And again, like you say, that reverberates around the dressing room. You better stay in line. You better just like live by the rules that are here already and stay part of that culture. The hard work, the intensity, the respect. And so that he would dig out the most experienced player who hasn't even done anything. And he'd sit there and go, "What?" Why did you shout at me for? But he was doing that to you because he knew you could take it, but the effect they didn't have on the young ones. Or the other ones. Do you know what I mean? So playing the mind games, man. I love it. It's good. But the only thing is, anyone in it, like you're saying, you're talking about social change. You probably didn't realize at the time. But when you sit back and you're outside and you look back in that bubble, you think, "Shit, man. Yeah. That's why I didn't think about it, but that's why I'd done it." Yeah. And I'm right now, or I'm wrong, whatever it is. I mean, that's how we think about certain things that Fergie done. You think actually he weren't just lucky, man. Actually, obviously he was plotting and planning that type of stuff. I wonder how much of that stuff was intentional with him in terms of like, I'm sure he wasn't going in the backroom and planning it. It's just like, surely it's just like who he was. And I sometimes think, you know, you get managers that'll come into clubs and they'll try and be like Fergie. But you can't because you can't act for that long and that consistently, because from what you're saying about Fergie, it's like, it's not like four things he's doing. It's a thousand things he's doing consistently, which show his values, right? And you can't act for 27 years, whatever it is, across a thousand touch points. So it makes me feel like how do you teach that? Like, it was almost, it was just instinctive to Fergie. Yeah. I think it was instinctive. He was a, he's, that's just him. And don't forget his experience as well. We would have played a big part in that. He was at the club for like 26 or so years, 27 years. So that's, there's a valuable amount of experience gained in that time. But I always look at it like when I went into the main night of Change Room, I sat there and just looked around and thought, who's good at what? And let me just take elements of these people and add it to my, my game and my preparation and my recovery. And that's what I've done, Ryan Giggs was great at recovery and preparation, done yoga and stuff like that. Took that out of his, of his, of his book, Roy Keane leadership, the way he demanded standards on a daily basis, scolsy, best levels in training every day. Like all them things, I was just trying to, trying to be like little peep, parts of different people. And then that allows hopefully for you to grow into a better person, a better player, etc.


Sir Alex Ferguson (28:18)

And I think that's the same with, with other industries and business since I retired. It's like, you go in and try and be like someone else, you're going to fail because you can't be like the original. But if you're taking bits from elsewhere, you might be able to get beyond that, what you see as the best because you're getting more, you're taking more good things from that person, but then from various other people to build, maybe past that. And that's the way I try and work with stuff now in my life. There's no one person going to make, that's going to make me the best at what I want to be, but a group and taken from everywhere, I've got a better chance. People never talk about the things that Fergie was bad at while Roy King does. But other than that, I never hear people saying, and I've got his book somewhere knocking around as well, but you never hear players talking about some of the things where you think, do you know what? I actually think he would have gone, been more successful if he didn't do that thing. Do you know, it's weird when people die or when people retire, you only remember good stuff really. Interesting. You only think about what they're, their, their existence before becomes magnified and you, they're built up even bigger sometimes. And Fergie, I think that's with him as well, because you just don't, you don't think, I can think of instances or tactics he got wrong. That's easy to find, but, but he'd always make stuff right. It was weird. Like, even for instance, the anti racism stuff and the situations, I saw a documentary from my brother, brother, yeah, yeah. So he went to cover the walls actually yesterday. That's what it is. Yeah. So he, the situation happened with him and John Terry. And I decided not to wear the next, that we're one of during that period. Once a year, all the teams are given t-shirts, show races and the red card, I'll kick races them out on the campaigns. I wasn't willing to wear it because I didn't believe that they supported enough in the during that, that time. So I said, I'm not wearing it. He went crazy. Find me. I was like, we ended up winning the game, which was okay. It was lucky. But the next day I went into his office to just try and explain to him why I hadn't won the t-shirt. And to be fair, he said, you know what, I understand. And I'm sorry for the way I reacted a lot, stuff like that. He might make a mistake or he'd done that wrong, but he'd always rectify it. He'd always come back around. You get you back around somehow. And because he was just like a, I don't know, he just, he knew how to deal with people. He knew how to treat people to get the best out of them for what his main goal was. How to teach that? I don't know, man. That's just a stuff. I think that's something that's inside being able to deal with people, read people, treat your team, do you know what I mean? So that they're running through brick walls for you, because you come in a room and you say to you're not playing and I'd be, you'd want to be screaming and you'd be like, blood will be boiling, but you'd leave the room and you're going to change room and you're sitting in there, doing everyone up. Come on, boy, he's not sulking because he's told you Tuesday you're playing because I need you for that game. You've missed this one. This is a big game, but you're going to play on Tuesday. Like normally you miss a game. You want to go and cry about it, do you know what I mean? But he's managed to build you back up. And that's my management and in any industry that's, that's like a massive part of, again, the culture, but maintaining and sustaining a successful company or a successful football club. You need to be able to build people, pick them up, knock them down sometimes, but be able to keep them on that track with you. The contradiction I hear within like the story you were kind of Sir Alex versus the one I see in the newspapers is you hear about the, you know, kicking the football boot at Beckham and this guy who on the, who in the sidelines looks like he's out of control. But what you're describing is like super self-aware. Yeah, calculated. And he's actually pretending to be out of control when he needs to be. We used to talk about it all the time, especially me and Amanda Vidditch. And Vidditch is a deep guy loves talking about deep style, gets deep in stuff. Yeah, he loves it. Like, it's just a matter of, I don't know how you just loves like to be on behind what, how was he thinking about that, et cetera. We just always talk about the manager. And like, you look back and say anything, everything he'd done was like calculated like the way he spoke on the TV, blaming the ref. So that very rarely did he come on, he didn't come on TV and ever hammer another player's individually. He'd lose a game and the referee will be the front, the back page the next day. But he's taking the heat off us. He's making us think about it. It's not us. We're not down in the doldrums, it's because of the referee. That's dangerous sometimes you've got to be, there's got a self accountability. But he makes there's enough self accountability in the building. But also the focus is over there now, not on us as a team. So we go again without that pressure or they've lost. They're not as good anymore. But the referee was the reason. Do you know what I mean? Just like that's just like calculated. This is what I'm doing for the goodness of my team and the betterment of my team is good man. But people think anger and like you were a player that wasn't afraid to shout at someone. I heard you talking about some of the players you gave a hard time like Anderson, etc. What is still? What role does anger play in leadership then? Because you see it in football. But if I were to start screaming at people in the same way that you did to, I don't know, Berber or whatever. Imagine if I just if I can kick this table and said, "The fuck the camera is not working?" I would be canceled. Everyone would walk out. Yeah. I talk about this with my missus quite a lot now. We like some of the stuff that we're talking about memories and whatnot and how we spoke to someone. So what's happening in the change room would never happen in the office. Because it's like you say, it's like that relationship's over. It's gone too far. Whereas you could have a fight at football and then you're shaking hands and having a laugh in the shower after. It's so different. It's just a different way of working. But I think it's understanding people. I don't think you treat any two people the same in that sense. The blanket treatment I don't think is the best way to treat a team. Because everyone's different. Everyone takes advice differently. Everyone takes criticism differently. So you've got to be able to pick the right people to be able to shout out. To pick the right people you've got to get an arm round. And that's about, again, a manager, a captain knowing that team, knowing that play, that the players individually, all this coming into work and ghosting everybody is, "Man, I don't get it. I don't think you can create that environment for success if you're going to come in and not know nobody." And that's what another one of these, so Alex's great traits is that he knew everything about everyone. Like, if you're, my granddad was in hospital once. My granddad probably twice in the, in the players lounge after a game. I knew my granddad's favorite drink, brandy. A flower was turned up on my mom's house. Do you know what I mean? It's like, that stuff there, then people are coming to work for you every day after stuff like that. It's little things, little details, not any time out of your diary, really. It's PA probably done it all. But he's names at the bottom. It's like big, it's little percentages like that are just a key. It's funny because those little gestures help you know that he does care about you. Regardless of what happens on the training ground or in the match, fundamentally he cares about you and wants you to do well. And he's, you know what I mean? You're not enemies, you are. And so I think by him, setting that as the foundation, it's clear that having that as a foundation allows him to put pressure on in the right places, it seems. Yeah. And you're like his mate. Yeah. However. Well, really? No, you're not. You're not. He's mate. I speak to him more now than I did when I played. Really? He's needed to be there that we can have a little laugh here and there, but in the end of the day, I'm the manager. You guys do your thing there and have a laugh, et cetera. But then there's that line, you don't go past. So, but he's just got it right. And I think that's time to experience as well. He would have learned that. And a lot of the guys say he was even crazier before you guys came when he was younger. So he's obviously worked and he worked out as well. The new generation of player couldn't take that anger and that craziness like the old generation, like probably my generation, probably the last generation that he could do that with the next ones, the younger ones, the Anderson's, the Narnies, the Ronaldo's, et cetera. That's not the way that they would, they would, they don't respond as well to that type of criticism and anger and aggressiveness. What was the anger issue you ever saw him? Two, two, three, two, three times. The times when he kicked the boot, the Brexit's head was a, and you're in that crazy one. Yeah, that was crazy. What happened? Wouldn't it be great if we could make looking after yourself your nutrition and your health cool again? And I think this is ultimately what Hule has done in my life. And as I reflect on the last couple of years, that Hule has been the easiest way for me to become a better human. And for me, being a better human meant having better health. It meant better having mental health, more energy being more focused on my work. And that's exactly what Hule has done for me. I hope we can make being healthier cool, especially as we emerge from this lockdown where we've all realized how important and foundational health is. And I think Hule's a great way to do that. Try it out, give it a go. Everyone that has, you know, get lots of photos on Instagram and Twitter of people that have tried Hule and started their Hule journey, brings a little bit of joy to my heart because not only have you, are you a listener of the podcast, but also because I know that you're on a journey to make your life and your health a lot better. And that if you know, think about all the sponsors I could have had to have a sponsor that I genuinely believe can help you change your life is a privilege that I'm glad to know. What was the anger issue I ever saw him? Two, two, eight times. Two, two, six times when he kicked the boot, the back of his head was a, and you're in that crazy one. Yeah, that was crazy. What happened? It was, it was mad. It was funny, man. It was actually funny. I'm not honest. I can't lie. But the manager was, he kicked the boot in anger because he asked Bex to do something tactically that he didn't carry out. And he booted, and listen, anybody, I don't care what, Ronaldo's playing to thou messy, wouldn't have hit the target away, hit the target. It was, it was so clean and the ball went in slow, my lap. Bang. And it hit him in the head. And then obviously Bex got upset, got up and I just remember the gaffer was devastated. You could tell he could see when he looked at him, he sat down, he was just slumped almost like, he does not want to eat, he kicked the boot before I kicked it in anger and it accidentally hit Bex in the head. So he looked devastated with it. But that was one that was, I had a few scrapes of him in terms of, I didn't agree with things that he'd done a couple of times and I was screaming and he didn't, he didn't take too well to it and he lost it and he just would go purple over the top of you and just spray him in front of you like that, like crazy.


Manchester United now (39:04)

So but he was, what he was, he was never personal, which is why you respected it and you kind of, it kind of, it kind of always was washed away because he, you knew that deep down he just wants you to do well. Do you know what I mean? It wasn't vindictive, it wasn't personal. Just do what I'm telling you to do and you will win. I heard you say that, that culture isn't there now. It's all friendly now, and everyone's mates, everyone's, for instance, everyone's mates and commenting on each other's posts on social media. So you're more attached to someone, you're more involved with someone. Whereas before, I would only see certain players twice a year, home and away. So I've got no attachment to you. So to me, have a bit of venom or to go at you a little bit was normal and I've got no qualms about doing that because I ain't going to see you again, don't care. I might see you at England camp or something like that, but I don't, I slept three or four times a year. So we're colleagues. Exactly. We're not really matey. Whereas now in the tunnel, we're all shaking, cuddling. Yeah, man. Comment on your posts. You have a day where it is very different. I'm not saying it's bad, but it's just different. Is it bad? So I don't know, it's just like, it's different. So going into into battle, into a game, I've got no emotional ties or no social media ties to anybody. So I can, there seemed to be that bit more, I don't know if there's more passion before. So now, but it seemed to be like there was. Because I think all of this stuff with social media makes it a bit more fluffy and people are hugging and shaking hands and whatnot now because they've spoken or had a message or liked a post very different. Me and my friends, my man, Shastya, Nat Chat, when one of the observations that we have all the time, it's like, why is, why has everyone been so nice to you? And I remember last week there was a tweet went out from one of the United press people and it was just a quote of something Harry Maguire had said on the field. And he basically screamed, I don't know, rasp or someone else. He'd said, get fucking back in line or whatever. It's like trending on Twitter. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because you don't see it anymore. And then also, you know, love him or whatever, but watching Oli fist bump, the managers with a smile on his face, we've been grown up as United fans. Because we would, Fergie would look fucking furious to even have to look at the opposing manager and it just feels different now. And then we look at where we are and how we're performing in the big games and we're not winning like we used to and we're all saying, oh, we're coming like, asked or something. Everyone always like cleans onto the history and it and that's the problem as a football fan. I'm the same. You just want it to be like it was before, please. But it's never going to be the same. It may be a successful or even more successful one day, but it will never be the same. So our expectation level sometimes just have to change a little bit. But yeah, I mean, again, like it was coming in anyway, because like, for instance, I remember Joe, our PK hugging and fist pumping, et cetera in a tunnel with Fabregas. And we were mad rival to Barcelona at point, like pizza gate and all that stuff. And he got hammered off that PK in our change. And we do before a game, we sit in a chat or we make fun of him a little bit. There's two different ways you ridicule and get someone in line, I be humor or being firm and he probably got both. But it was, it was that was a sense of change coming. It was coming and obviously social media, I think it's accelerated that definitely. Edward would as well. It's a lot of controversy surrounding him at the moment again, because for better or for worse. If you had him on. No, not yet. No, no, good. When we can travel a little bit more, we'll, I think he'll come on. But I remember hearing the story about the exit treatment that you had with him. And I wondered if you were still somewhat bitter about that. I heard, you know, one of your last games at the club and he comes into the training room and tells you that you're not going to be playing for the club anymore. You didn't get your send off. Yeah, of course. I think there's nothing that anyone could tell me that wouldn't make me feel that was the wrong way. Would Fergie have done that? No. He would have told me before the end of the season because he didn't know what it mean. But the difference is that Fergie was a footballer and he knows what it means. He knows what it is to be able to say. Thank you for your support, et cetera. I just have that little runway to a send off. And I understand that everybody can have it that way. But if you've got, if you know and you've got the opportunity to give someone the best possible route out of a situation, you give it to them. And my situation, I think it was, you could see down the line from a month, two months before that, that you knew what was going to happen with me. So give me the opportunity to have the best possible send off, given the time, given the relationship that I'd built with the club. So that was my only discrepancy of the whole way it worked out because it wasn't like, oh, actually a knee-joke situation, knee-joke decision. So but I think this, and Ed knows how I feel about it, but we've moved on past that I've speak to them on the phone about various different things anywhere we meet up sometimes. That's cool. But those small moments, that's an isolated incident. But that isolated incident is attached to a wider philosophy in the same way that Fergie had this wider philosophy of sending your granddad the flowers. And that's attached to a wider philosophy. So although that's just one instance, I think the risk that I would see, and when I hear things like that, I think, well, that same philosophy of not really caring being that empathetic, it's got to be popping up in other places. Like 100%. And that, again, I've said culture about 10 times already in this conversation. Yeah.


Manchester United then (45:04)

But that's a part of a culture. Like there has to be, let me say, compassion, empathy, respect. As a family, right? Like that's what the club was. And that was the way I used to explain why you're not. I left Leeds, which was like a family. I used to say this is a smaller version, with that obviously that's success, but a smaller version in terms of the people here, been here for 30 years, 40 years, 20 years. My dad used to work here. My mom used to work here. Like it's a family club. Man United was that when I was there. My fear is that it becomes something else. Some of the waiting staff, I had a box at my United. And it's funny, it's a staggering thing for me, because you don't think of the waiting staff in the box are going to notice a cultural shift at the club, right? But they would tell me. They said to me, when Fergie and David Gill were here, it was different. I'm like, how did it touch the waiting staff that served me because they know all their names? Yes. That's what they said to me. They know all their names. They had a relationship. David Gill had a relationship with the person giving me a stake. And I just thought that was staggering that this, you know, anything like how strong the culture must be and how important it must be for the waiter, giving me some chips to be like, it's different now. The dinner lady at the training ground actually spoke to her on the way here, funny. That's just me a voice note, but a dinner lady, Carol, she could have bended with the manager or David Gill, like first name terms. Bended that would have been spread over a number of years so they could go back and have a proper back and forth. He knew the name of the groundsman, but it was like, and if I'm at Man United now, that is part where I'm going. That has to be recreated. Bring that back. Because that's a strength, like I said before about strength in numbers, that's the foundation of the football club. People come in that place and think, Oh my God, they're all Man United here. They all feel part of it. That creates, does that start with Fergie and David at the top? Yeah, I think it has to. And that's what I look back on things like that. And like you speak to any of the people that were there, that was a big part of it. Because everyone thinks it's the first 11, the team, the squad, the first team that played, that's Man United. It's not. It's the fans. And it's all the people that work behind the scenes to enable that first 11, that team, that squad to go out there and perform. If them people around that aren't working, that's what the manager used to say. All these people, the kit man, the physio, nutritionist, the dinner lady, et cetera, these not help you enable you to be successful. So don't forget that. Do you know what I mean? And all those people have an expectation of the performance and like the, they all become winners. Like as a United fan growing up, I was like, we win. Yeah, 100%. And, you know, as a fan, I was like, yeah, no, we come and we win. And then at some point when Fergie left, I'm like, I'm not sure sure really what happens sometimes. And you know, that crazy thing Fergie had in the last couple of minutes of every game where you thought, we're going to fucking win this. There's only two minutes left. But somehow, do you know, like the things I just mentioned there about the club as well, does, that is a byproduct of success as well. That becomes easier. It's like a self-fulfilling cycle, right? Exactly. When you're winning, it's like everything. When you're successful and you're winning, everything's kind of run smoothly, don't it? Yeah. And then obviously when things start to go a little bit wrong, you see so many more bumps in the road, so many more splinter groups come out and start pointing the finger, et cetera. So I just think that it's, it's keeping it, getting that culture right and getting the people who feel part of the club, and then you win with that as well. There's no better kind of. And you've got to defend it, right? You've got to defend the culture again, because the culture is the thing that made you win. Yeah. And so you might get some big people getting too big for their boots or whatever or distracted. And then Fergie's just got this great reputation of defending that culture as the most important thing. And I, you, that's what you're saying. Why did he win? How did he win for 20 odd years? No one else has managed to do that in the modern era. And it's just that. But it's, it's, I always put it down to as well, things like dedication, desire. He was always the first in a training round. I tried to use to try and beat him to get in the training round. Sometimes I take my kids to school and get there like we used to start at like half nine, used to be in a half nine. I used to get in sometimes at eight o'clock and he's cars there already. Last to leave most of the time. I guess that's again, that goes back to the point of saying about showing your kids rather than telling them to be early. But just be that you're, you're, then they know you're, he's always there. Can't be late. Why are you late? The manager's there. He's been 26 years and you're, and he's, he's early every day and you're not. He's obviously prepping. Like you don't do your prep work in the gym. Why? I remember I came, called him meeting, called him meeting because he's thought that the young players weren't doing the extras. And why are you going home before an experienced player there? That was said to them. Yeah. When you're, you're the start of the ladder. What's we called an actual meeting? Yeah. So that you just said to the last listen guy, like after training or coming in or before training or coming to change room. And everyone sat down and he was like, listen, I've got to say it because I'm seeing it every day and it ain't good for the club. Some of you young boys, I'm seeing you and some of the older, the players that are a little bit older than that. But how can you be going home before him? He's doing extras working outside or he goes in the gym or before training. So he's, so I'm, so I do that and you're just messing about in, in the, in the, uh, a team or something like that. It's valuable time. Don't miss it. Short career, things like that. But that's again, the manager allowing people to manage a change room. And I said, was there, you had people that manage a change room and you had to manage it at the over-sour it all. What was the difference between some players that arrived at Manchester United and ultimately ended reaching their potential and then some that don't. And there's been a lot of, you know, well written about players that never reached their potential is, was there a commonality that you saw that made it? Cause I'm like Gary Neville. I'm like, he wasn't the most. I like the guy. I think he's actually managed me once in this charity game. Like the guy, but he didn't strike me as the most naturally talented player. I work. But he thought, yeah. And then you've had work, dedication, attention to detail, application on a daily basis. Like this is the thing a lot of people think I've worked hard for two weeks and I haven't, I haven't got any rewards out of it. The manager's still not playing me. I'll give up. Oh, that's got to be, we're talking before a lifestyle. Hard work every day is lifestyle. That should be like the standard. That's the standard that is here here. And you've got to be at that every day. There's none of this taking you off to pedal because it's difficult.


What were your faults? (51:39)

Well, Carlos Keros said to me, you can't just switch it on and off. Like that mentality, that intensity, the dedication, the hard work on a daily, but you can't just go, I'll work hard on Monday to Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, I'll just chill. And then Saturday, switch it on again. Oh, habits, lifestyle, all the time like that. So when it comes to match time, it's not a big shift because your body can't deal with that, your mind can't deal with that. If it's normalized, this is normal on a Saturday, three o'clock, 60,000 people screaming, 100 million people around the world. That's not pressure. I'll do this every day. One of the alienating things when people might hear you talk and they think, oh, well, almost intimidating is like, well, Rio's mentality is just so fucking disciplined and, you know, he's got it now. And then, oh, I did. Listen, I, I weren't perfect. I'm going to ask, because let's tell me about, tell me how you weren't perfect. Yeah, I weren't perfect. It took me a long time to start understanding like your body, understanding your mindset and my state of mind had to be a tip top condition, both mentally and physically on a, on a game day. And Westam, I didn't have it, Leeds, I didn't have it because I was inconsistent. I was really a train hard, but then I'd be gone out every, every other night. I'd go out four or five times a week, parties, pissed. Like Westam, I don't remember a lot of results or certain things when people say, well, why that game when you actually can't remember? Or was that, I used to be guy I'd get pissed so often. And then I got to me and I just was surrounded by people that had won and I was desperate to win. So what do you do to win? I'm going to copy off him, him like we spoke about before. And then you become part of that. And then you realize that none of these little going out all the time. So if I'm going to go out and continue that last I had before, my levels are obviously always going to be a bit below these guys because you can't sustain that. You're always working from a lower standpoint. So I changed that and this has still made mistakes, but my intentions and my desire was to always be as good as I could be. I wanted to be better than Vida, Vidditch, John Terry, Soul Campbell. I need to be the best when people talk about the best centre back. I need to be the first name on their lips. So what can I do? I was not obsessed with it. Do you know what I mean? Why? The last one probably known how obsessed I was with it because I would never show that really, but inside the thought that someone thought that someone else is a better centre back than me used to like it would eat away at me. Why?


You and Vidic (54:13)

Because it's pride, ego, real well ego. You want to be the best. And I was never ashamed of myself to feel like that. I didn't say it at the time because it's etiquette. It's not the thing to do. In American sports they do it. They talk like that, which I wish we was more because naturally I'm that type of person. I would say it. I think I'm the best on it. So I don't care that I would say now. I thought I was the best centre back. But I was always, I just wanted to be the best. Overall I was or not, it's for other people to decide, but that was always my intention. You and Vidditch partnership. A lot of my friends at the moment, that's why I've been, I'm a big fan of Harry Maguire and what he does mainly because from what I hear he's one of the only leaders in the back line, like, you know, always shouting. What was it that made you and Vidditch so successful as a partnership? Because my friends there do anything to have you guys back. What was it about you two? You're known as, in my opinion, the best centre back partnership we've ever had. That's why I'm here because I knew you'd say that. I appreciate it man. I don't know man. He had attributes that just complimented my own vice versa. He wanted to go and attack every bull. Okay. When the bull got kicked in the skies, he just saw one thing and that was the bull. And he was better at that than me. But I read stuff and would clean up around all of that and was more of, I don't know, I read the game probably a deal with different to him. But at the same time, I could always capable of going up and winning the bull and then he'd do that with me. Whether he was as good at me and cleaned up or not. For other people to decide. But like, I don't know, we just compliment each other. And what it was, there was a pride about our defending us too. So you see a lot of people, it's like me. I'm the best. I want to be the best, which is true. But the overriding factor of me wanting to be the best is that we don't concede and we're a partnership. I'm going to be, I've got your back. And that's what he was just saying before a game. "Fita, you got up, I'm behind you, don't worry. When I got up, you're behind me, yeah." That's all it was all the time. You challenge on behind you, don't worry. Just go for the bull, go for the man. Take the man in the bull. I'm here if it goes wrong. And it's that having that sense of security for each other. There was a chant that it's just chant about him being a bit of a murderer. Yeah, yeah, yeah, crazy. How did he feel about that? He's quite an unassuming guy. He's not really taken or by anything. They say that about me. Oh, cool, it's good. Not bad.


Mental health - your documentary (56:50)

Not bad. And then carries on with life. He's really just chilled, man. He's so different to what he's like on the pitch. Just a chilled guy. He's an intense guy to refer. Intense. And some players may have found him at times quite moody at times and just really in with what he's doing because he's so intense. And he would really think about a lot of stuff and probably overthink certain situations. But I got on really well with him. He's one of my closest guys at May night when I was there. You talk to him now? Yeah, I talk to him now on the text and stuff. He's living in Milan at the moment. No, really? Yeah. One of the things that has happened since you're playing days is there's been a huge rise in the conversation around mental health. Wasn't a conversation back then, really? Even for me, growing up that didn't know what it meant, I'll be completely honest. I thought mental health was someone goes crazy. Psychiatrists. Yeah, just an straight jacket or something. That's what I always thought it was. That's the depiction of someone that's lost their mind. We've come to learn about it in a much different way now. We view it as a intrinsic part of health, but everyone has mental health and it can sit on some kind of spectrum based on what happens. I was wondering back then, like the players in that dressing room, they had mental health then they had mental health issues and stuff then, but I'm guessing it was never addressed. It was never talked about or... I've done a documentary on BBC about grief and bereavement and stuff and obviously mental health is a huge part of that. I got to understand mental health through that journey of making a documentary and understanding that when I played, again, mental health was not a thing at all and it was never considered. There was no compassion and if you acknowledge your mental health and started to talk about it as I have problems on issue, you was then seen as a weak link. Whether it was spoke about or not, it was there. That would be the case. That would be the how you would see that whole situation. No one then talks about it through fear of being called the weak link. A lot back now, I think, yeah, definitely, if we would have been more open off, we would have had today's thought process about mental health. We'd have got more out of certain players, definitely. Yeah, because Louisa are half, for instance, what a player. Unbelievable footballer. Had injuries, but along with the injuries, that brought a mental health problem for him. And a bit depressed and down and whatnot because he felt he was letting everyone down. That's what you feel when you're injured. You feel you're letting your teammates down. It's hard to deal with sometimes, especially if you just keep getting little injuries and you come back, you go again, you come back and people start always injured. Mentally, it's not strong, is it? Don't fancy it. As a player, you know them conversations are going on, so you start thinking about that. Some people see you think he's doused me anyway. And so that mental warfare that goes on, it could be sorted out through conversation. I mean, I acknowledge in certain things, but you're taught in a macho dressing room that talking is seen as a weakness back then. I think there's big changes now, like you say, the narrative now is very different. So you'd like to think it's changing and clubs are more aware of that. I remember watching that documentary, remember? I think I remember where I was when I watched it because it really, really hit me. And I don't watch a lot of TV, but it's quite hard to make something impact me, but because you were so vulnerable as someone that I grew up watching as a kid and you were able to be emotional, it hits you in a completely different way. Tell me about your thought process, why you wanted to do that? Because I'm betting it wasn't easy, right? No, it was crazy. It was hard, man. But it was mainly for my kids, if I'm honest, and for everyone else because I wanted my, obviously my kids lost, they lost their mum. So again, it's like most about the same point. You can't just keep telling them sometimes. It'd be nice to have something you can just show them and that speaks for itself and his visual as well. And so they get a clear idea of where we were all at, where we was at and how we've got to this point of hopefully a little bit of healing. And on that journey, we realized actually we're going to help a lot of people here so many more than just selfishly our own family. So it became like a real positive journey for us in that sense of working out what it means to talk, to communicate your feelings, how much benefit that is to you as an individual, but also other people. It working on relationships and how it can change your relationship when you are talking. And so again, it was a difficult journey because you've got to open up, like you say, show that vulnerable sides you. And again, that's probably again how we started a conversation. I wasn't scared to do that. It was a difficult situation, but I weren't scared of doing that because I knew at the end of the day my kids are going to benefit from this and whatever that, however this journey goes, I'm willing to be a part of it for that one reason. And then when it was finished and when I baffed her in the end with it, the great part of it is that you walk down the street or you go down the island, say in street or where a test goes where it is and an old age lady or a man come up to you, you know what, the tear in your eye or something like that and the throats all croaky and what's your program? I never spoken before really. You help me. That stuff, that's the reward that you get from something like that that I didn't anticipate. And one of the things you said when I was hearing you talk about mental health and really the, I guess, the crux of the documentary is that the healing comes from opening up and communicating. And in fact, you might never get over what happened and you don't necessarily need to but it's like when you take it out from the closet in the back part of your mind because you were talking about compartmentalizing it a lot and that was how you were handling it at first and I think a lot of the data shows that when you try and compartmentalize grief or no one will. But it comes at you in other ways, right? And it jumps in and you get bad habits, you fall into holes that you never knew where they've ever possible to go down. And then to get back out of them is it becomes almost an impossible journey. So it was, it was, and that's how I probably would have been with lots of stuff in my life before you just compartmentalize it, you put it over there, you don't think about it, but you've never dealt with it. You've never got that situation out and unpacked it and then used it to bring some sort of positive eat to your life. People don't want to open it though. No, because it's scary. Yeah, vulnerable. And today I'd rather just get through today than unpacked that stuff and feel. Yeah, and have to go through that stuff. I have to go through them feelings, their emotions have to have that hurt a little bit again. But we said it to the kids all the time, like sometimes crying is such a relief sometimes and the weight that goes off your shoulder sometimes when you do release that emotion is like, it's crazy. You can't really put it into words what it feels like at times that you've had that then moments where you felt really down or you're missing someone and then you have a little bit of emotional time on your own or with friends or family, whatever it is.


Techniques to help with mental health (01:04:20)

And then you, there's a smile immediately come sometimes out of the back of it because you feel actually, I actually feel better now and you got, you move on, you carry on with your day. But it's a, it's a, that type of situation that we've kind of been through. It's never gone. But you learn how to deal with things that bit better all the time. What are some of the, the sort of techniques you use to try it when you do feel down or you feel like, you know, there's something bugging, playing on your mind and stuff and you might be getting a bank just about something. Is there anything that you've learned from your experiences that helps you in those moments, like outside of talking or strategies or is there one of the things that I was, like, is, um, I've started doing, this is the most, I'm really strange is when I, so what will happen with me is something will be playing on my mind. And I try and tell myself how you can deal with that. You're fine, whatever. And then three hours later in the shower and you're still thinking about it. And I know that it's going to harm me if I don't like address it. So I will literally, this sounds like fucking bonkers first of my own said this. I literally say it out loud and I have this like weird conversation with myself where I say, Steve, like you're feeling, I'll go literally, you're feeling like this because of this and this. And yeah, it's making you feel a bit like, you know, it's making you feel a bit bad at the moment or whatever. But then I try and reason with myself as if I'm talking to someone else and it has really helped me. It's, but it makes me feel like a nutter. Yeah, I understand 100% of what you're saying, but you know, I'm fortunate I've got an unbelievable wife who I can talk to, like communication is a massive part of where I've improved in my life, 100%. So that conversation you're having there, I'll have it with my wife. And I'm lucky. How has she helped you with that? Oh, massively. I don't probably tell her enough, but like what she's brought to my life in terms of being able to open up to communicate, not only with her, but with my kids now. I speak to my kids in a different way now in terms of because I know communicating and letting them show their feelings, trying to just always, if there's a situation that's Prince's mother's day just come. Obviously in my house is quite, my mom passed away and the babies and mom passed away as well. So mother's days and then Kate's a new mom. So there's so many dynamics in the house on that one day, the emotional kind of energy in the house on that day is like through the roof. And so to manage that and to make it a day where everybody's enjoying it and happy and celebrating mother's day is that's a task in itself. But talking to the kids, we said a conversation on mother's day at the table was eating food and stuff and it was like, my little boy was like, I said to him, like, you don't post anything on mother's day, do you? And he's not an emotional poster anyway. He just posts about what he likes, like football and stuff and whatever. So he's like, yeah, I was actually thinking of doing it this mother's day, but obviously because I wasn't sure what to do with Kate and mom. So I didn't know what to do and it was like Kate almost like, I think she's like crying really because I don't want you to feel like that. Post what you feel, don't worry about no one else. Just post what you feel because no one can tell you what you feel and you're not going to disappoint anybody. Do what you feel. Do what you feel. And it's like those conversations I would never have had with my kids before because I just wasn't in that zone. I was always very like, again, compartmentalized, very closed, closed but emotionally zero coming out really. But that was conditioned because my dad was like that. So and we talk about that in the doctors world. My dad was very, very, he was an open with his feelings really and I was very old school West Indian man. So that follows through generations. So see, the talk in this and communicating with the kids in Kate and she's the one who's really brought that since I've met her in that sense and I'd never be able to thank her enough for that. Just that one element. Let alone the other stuff that she's brought to the table. You just, you don't talk to her and you think you might not talk to her enough though. I don't tell her enough maybe. How? How, I tell everyone else that all my mates know like she's been unbelievable for us. She's like, oh you don't tell her. We don't tell her enough sometimes. Right. And that sometimes the conversations and she goes, yeah, but I told time so like you was like, you done it and she goes, oh, you told them before me.


Relationship advice (01:08:58)

Right. Which is crazy really. And I should, you should really just tell that person. Why don't you? I don't know. It's the old me still about probably. Really? Yeah. Probably the old me still about, I don't know. And sometimes a bit like shy, not shy, I'm embarrassed maybe. I don't know. To say that. Yeah. But it's, yeah, I should. I will. I'll send you the clip. You can just let the clip in here. She'll see this on Instagram. Why didn't you just tell me? Yeah, that's true. That's incredible. As a guy that's single, me and has struggled for very soon. I'm not. Sorry. Yeah. No, not you. So, yeah. As a guy that's single and has struggled over the years to get into a relationship because I've been busy, well, this is what the bullshit I tell myself. What is commitment issues is it? Well, well, my parents, so there's a slight issue for my childhood where like my mum and dad used to scream each other all the time. So I just learned that relationships were like prison because my dad would sit there passively. My mum's screaming in his face and I would, I just learned that as a man, when you get in a relationship, you're in prison and your freedom's gone. And I'm so I'm someone that like really doesn't want to give up my freedom. And whenever I get close to that commitment, I feel the fear, which clearly comes from my childhood. But what are the things that you, you know, as a guy that is super successful over the last, you know, couple of decades and now is running businesses and chasing a bunch of other ambitions that you have. What are some of the things you've learned about how to have a successful relationship as a busy guy? One of them's communication, I guess, but communication, but I think time management is massive as well. And yeah, time management like in Kate's help with that as well, like managing your diary, like I'm busy. I've got a lot of stuff on and out that I enjoy and I'm one of them passionate about, which is key. But I'm as passionate if not more about my family as well. So managing that diary to make sure you've got quality time and you've got enough time with your family, but also, you know, you're going to work is so key. But also the time when you're there be there. Okay. Do you mean like I speak to a lot of guys who are managers, a lot of my friends are managers now. And that's why I'll never go into management. I don't think because as a football manager, you have to be, you have to live it, breathe it every minute. Like that's the same in business, but I don't know if football I just find is a different, is quite different. We're talking about the way that people talk to each other at football. It's different to an office. There's elements that are probably different as manager. But as a football manager, you're at home, you're home and someday you don't know where your family being out there. Yeah, you're thinking about logistics. You're thinking about the nutritionist as you sort of things out of the players. You're going to be fit this week or not, I need them to fit. That player just got injured at the weekend. I can't believe it was thinking about how am I going to replace him for what formation am I going to play? The other team we've got formation where they play different at the weekend.


What do you want to be remembered for (01:11:47)

I need to watch that video. I need to watch that for that 90 minutes. They played two games last week different. I go out and watch them games as well. That's without thinking about like doing your team talk and doing your tactics on a training pitch and setting up your train sessions for the week without thinking about it. And so when you're at home, you're not home. You're not there really. You're physically there, but mentally you're not there. You might as well not be there. So I never wanted to get in that position, especially given what we've been through. So I definitely, I just kind of wrote that off as being something I'll do because of that reason. And we were talking, again, before we start recording about your real deep desire to make sure that football isn't the thing that you become known for. And I find that fascinating, but it's a big mountain to climb, right? Like to get known for some of the things you're doing now, you're heavily involved in business, you're investing, you've got five. What are these? What we talked about focus as well at the start of your journey, deciding that it wasn't going to be gymnastics, it wasn't going to be ballet, it was going to be football. What is it now? So that's what I mean. That situation, that scenario is almost replicating itself now. I'm in that space right now. So when my dad said to me, "Real, what do you want to do? Make a choice." I've retired and the last four or five years, I've been working out what I'm going to do. I'm trying this, I'm trying that. I'm not scared to try this, I'm not scared to try that. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. But I know I'm not, that's not for me. And I'm kind of getting to a place now where I'm starting to drill down and focus on a couple of different spheres to go down. So the five YouTube channel. And creating that football hub, that football place to be. My foundation, which goes into communities and gets kids that from disadvantaged backgrounds, gives them the opportunity to get an education and then the opportunity to get into work through the relationships with a few of the commercial companies that I've built relationships with over the years. What else? The management company, football management company. So we've got managers and players, past and present that we manage from about 85, 95 players, which is, that's one of our passions. And I'll get to mentor players within that, which is the best bit for me. Where so for instance, England player Michael Keene, Ben Godfrey, Mason Holgate, the Murphy Twins, even Chris Wilder I speak to as well. But I'll get to mentor these players who I can have some sort of a fit, given the experience that I've gained over the years. So to have played that little role in a lot of these guys, I'll do that with the Premier League players and Nationals, two players that are from lower leagues, or just starting on the journey, who haven't made it yet. We were 17 and 18 years old. So I get great kicks out of stuff like that as well. Do you know which path you're going to take? I don't know. I'd love to be able to do it all. Yeah. But I know it's not possible to be super successful. Spreading yourself in like that. So I will eventually go, this is me. It's funny because when I speak to you and I've spoken to you, I've seen all my punditry stuff. Of course. Yeah. Which is interesting. When I speak to you, when I spoke to you last time, when we met a couple out of the year or two, it was standing in the sea for about 35, about an hour, I think, talking about you remember that in Dubai. It's standing. Oh, that's... Yeah, yeah. I was talking about the other time where I came to like where roughly where you live. You came to social chain one time. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I came to where you lived and then I forgot the Dubai time. Yeah. But every single time when I speak, you look at me in a certain way and I can see it. You're like listening and then you start asking questions around certain things and you're very, very, very, very curious. And I've noticed this. I feel it when I start talking, you look at me like this. Uma does the same thing. Yeah, yeah. That's shocking. You're another one. You do a lot of stuff. You're doing this. You've got a book coming out, you're investing. You've been a part of a company that was valued at £200 million. You're doing so much stuff. There's a theatre show you're doing, whatever you mentioned before. So there's so much stuff that you're doing, you're spinning plates. I find that exciting. How the fuck are you doing that? I want to know. I don't want to know like sometimes it's nothing about what you're doing for me. It's how you're doing it. You're doing like even the podcast. You're so concerned. I'm just like all the little things that I love it. So I don't know. I've just got, I've got a curious mind in that sense definitely. When I was young, I was curious to find out what nightclubs look like inside.


Closing Thoughts

What matters? (01:16:21)

I mean, that's all I wanted to do is find out and get in nightclubs. That's what I got when I was at Westam. I mean, you're just a young player just coming up in a promenade, getting invited to everything. I was curious. I mean, but that's for the wrong reasons. You've lived this crazy life, right? You've lived the life that me as a young kid growing up in Devon and Plymouth, as you know, watching my little tiny little one foot TV with my brother's, my three brothers sat there. That was the life that I wanted to lead. And you've gone through that journey. You've now come out the other end and you're doing all this other crazy stuff. As you look back on the cut span of your career, you must now know that there's certain fundamental things that matter and a lot of shit that doesn't. What are the things that matter? I used five though once a month before they became a sponsor on this podcast. And since they've become a sponsor on this podcast and I've delved into what the site does and how all the services work and the vast array of things that you can achieve on Fiverr using freelancers around the world. I swear on this dog's life, Pablo, my dog here, who sat on my lap if you can't see, I swear on his life that I've used Fiverr at least once a week for the last three months. We've built so many websites. We've designed so many decks. We've had video clips edited. We've had subtitles produced. If you haven't checked out Fiverr before, hit the link in the bio, Fiverr.com/CEO. Go to the website, check it out. And every single time I do this podcast, one person who dms me with a service from Fiverr that they need doing for their business, for their podcast, for whatever project they're working on, I will pay for that service to be done for you. So find a service on Fiverr that you want done, send me a message and one person every week will have that service paid for by me. You must now know that there's certain fundamental things that matter and a lot of shit that doesn't. What are the things that matter? Because I'm a little bit earlier on, so I'm still figuring out some of these things. I'm like, "Oh, look, money. This is interesting." You know, like... Health, man. Really? Health is the biggest thing. It's the biggest thing. Because when you're healthy, you're so happy. We spoke about it before. Like, confidence, it breeds how happy you are and it energizes you. But if you're not healthy, it can be devastating. So health is a massive thing, which I didn't consider for many years. Probably till we hit that bad patch in our lives. We have to get for granted. I mean, the pandemic now has been another way. And the pandemic is an absolute lie. If you wasn't awake, then you are woken now to health. What does that mean for you in terms of staying healthy now? Well, we spoke about it before in terms of what does health mean to... It's passing it on to the next generation of kids, my own kids first and foremost. But then to kids to understand that going to the gym and just like in and out, it will fads here and there. Health kicks here and there isn't... At me. Yeah. You're talking about me. It's not a lifestyle. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like, and we've got friends that we both know who are like that as well. And you've been like that before. It's just... Yeah. It's not the way... It's not healthy for starters, but up here, it just leaves you... You're always chasing something. Whereas when you get a consistency with your lifestyle and your healthy lifestyle, there's like almost like an Excel like, "Ah, actually, I get it now." And it becomes... It's not a drain on your life. It becomes something that adds value to your life in the end. And I think that's something to try and transfer that over to this next generation of kids. I think a key way and this pandemic is something that I think can accelerate that and it will accelerate that because, like I said, I'm on the board at the gym group now and trying to get people to understand and get back into coming into gyms is a massive push. It's a massive... It's a key part and how do you do that? Because it's not only important to have a spreadsheet, it's actually you're doing something that's going to help people now and prevent illnesses from being healthy a lot of the time. It's a real health, which people... Yeah, that's what I'm saying. People think it's just physical. It's not. Like I'll go into gym and that hour is unbelievable three, four times a week because you're on your own or with a partner or a PT, whatever it is. And some of your best ideas or best flushing of things is there. Oh my ideas. Do you know what I mean? Because you're having that time alone and you're getting to sit and not think about anything else but you rep or whatever it is and then actually bang, something hits you. Shit. That's kind of the latest one. I'll go back to that. It's unbelievable. It unlocks so much. It does, yeah. It's my time. I said... So now every day at 9pm, every single day without fail, I go to the gym and regardless of how busy I am here, which is always too busy, every day the team say they know that at certain time I get up and I go to the gym every single day without fail and it's... You see it as okay, well I'm trying to get muscles. It's like no. That's where I think of ideas. So health and I'm really happy that you said that because I've had that revelation in the last year and I think making health cool. Thank you. Making health cool again would help more parts of society than we realized. Especially guys that are looking for a sense of purpose in their life. Yeah, definitely. I think that, and again, the pandemic as well may be created and a lot more health conscious people and it's just the ways in which they're going to work out now is going to be key. And even my kids are the same like, I say to them, "I don't want to have to come home and tell you to work out. You should want to work out. Just do it." And then sometimes I'm like driving somewhere and all of a sudden one of the boys or my little girl, they're running somewhere. And that's like for me, that's a success. That's what I want to see, do you mean? Because I'm not forcing them to do it. If they're doing it off their own back now, this could be like their lifestyle for the rest of their life, that they're healthy, living healthy, understand what it means. And my two boys want to be footballers as well, so it's important for them to be physically active. As a dad, that was a football legend. What do you do to help a son that wants to be a football player? Get there. Prey. I'll pray every night and just say, "Please, man, my kids be players." Like, every other parent, I'd give everything for them to play football and be like top players. Seriously, man. But if they don't, this is what I always say to them, but they're in pressure. If you don't make it, I don't care. It's life. I would love you to be. If you don't make it, it's fine. You do something else. One unfortunately is a centre back like me, at the moment. Why unfortunately? Because then he'll be judged against me more. If he played a different position, my other ones are goalkeeper. So no one's going to say, "Oh, he's not as good as Rio, because he's goalkeeper." You know what I mean? But yeah, they're both playing now, they're both a club, so they're happy. The biggest thing they're enjoying it, which is great. So it's a basic answer, but it's so true. Do you know what I mean? You're doing something that they enjoy, that they want to get up out of bed every day for. And that's all you want. And it goes back to the same thing. When you're there, you better be working. Don't want this. If a manager comes to me and they're doing your appraisal of your performances the last two months, or they do it every quarter, they come back and tell me that you don't work hard enough. You ain't going. Because you're embarrassing for yourself to hear that. But is there anything that you can do? Can you call someone and be like, "Give my killer chance?" Because that's how old I thought it was. Every footballer's kids would have been players then. It's true. It's like saying that your child is going to be able to build a £200 million company because you have. Yeah, that's true. I mean, it just doesn't happen because there's so many variables that can affect that. I guess all you can do is just try and give them some lessons. Yeah, it's definitely some advice. And it's like, when you become a parent, it'll be the same. Your kids don't want to hear it from you. You're their dad. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They don't want to hear all this from you. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, dad. They'd rather hear it from the Sunday League coach who's got no qualifications and listen to him. And I'm sitting there looking at my son like, "Do you realise what I've done?" What I did, why you're here. And you're not listening to me. You're not taking my advice. They're usually going to kill me, right? Really? But then I realise it's more about just giving them the tools from a mental perspective to how to think and live like a professional. Do they know who you are? They do. They said, "Dad, until I got FIFA, I didn't really know how good you was." I said, "What do you mean?" He says, "Your legend on FIFA, the game." So now I know, obviously, I'll see your stats there. Sit down, just sit down. How old is he? He's 14 now. But he took me to a club beat. So I only luck about it till two years ago when he started playing FIFA. He realised, "Oh, dad, you like." Before that, I was looking at me like I was just anywhere. Like any guy. And I say to him, "One of my sons used to go." "Yeah, but dad, you really know that though, seriously." That's good. What's this guy saying? What are you talking about? I made you, bro. But he was like, "But that's how they were." And because they were oblivious to it. And a lot of players I spoke to in our last time, did you kid know that you were like a top player? Not really, they're done. Really? You must want to set down in terms of some tapes now. But then you don't sit there and do that. It's almost like they've got to go and find it. And that's what they've done now since, obviously. They go on YouTube and look at stuff and say, "God, dad, you actually." It's not bad. People are saying like, "You are the Virgil Van Dyke." So it was better. And like Virgil Van Dyke is here. Like, we're seeing a guy and you make your mind up and you better be back in your day. Who is better for your Virgil Van Dyke? I'll say me, I know. Plus, he's Liverpool, so I can't support that. Who is the best defender in the world in your view? Right now. Yeah, it's Van Dyke. You think it's Van Dyke? Ramos. Yeah. Ramos is these ages, obviously. Works against him, but Ramos, in terms of influence. Yeah, yeah. In the last seven or eight years, has been the standout because he's been a monster. Score, score, score. Score over 100 goals, you know. So, back in career. Really? Yeah, crazy. But Van Dyke, the last two years has been the best year. That's the best year. Liverpool aren't having a good time at the moment. I'm not guided. I'm not guided. I'm not guided. I'm the best. We've got some Liverpool fans in here. And I tell you what, I've made the most of this. Oh. Every day. I'm like watching the games. I didn't care before. I'm like watching sat there watching the games. I get like I'm watching the United States. I'm like, oh, I'm an old Texan. Are you just conceded? What's the excuse today? Oh, no fans. All that nonsense. No players. We've got an injury. Yeah. Heard it all. You know, lastly, you know, you said that you're happy now. Happiest you've, you've felt in a long time. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Like, I'm just... My face didn't actually say that I did it. So, my face didn't say that. No, your face didn't say that. No, I'm the happiest of. I've been managed just because... I don't know. I've got three healthy children, four healthy children. I've got a newborn. Just come. Just come. A wife. Many forgot who does everything. Who's brilliant. Family. Friends. Yeah, man. It's just... And business is going well as well. And I can see stuff happening and evolving. You can feel stuff happening. You know what I mean? You must have thought that with some of the stuff that you do, you feel... You get onto something and you feel... My momentum a little bit. The momentum starts coming. You can see it building. So... Not in a good place, man. I'm really happy. What do you want? What do you mean what I want? I purposely am vigorous. Like, what do you want? What do you want? When you think about what you want now, what is it? I just want to be part of something that people go, "Well, that was... That's the shit. Like, that's... How they've done that?" Fair play. Well played. That's what I want. Why? Because that's how I've always been. You play football. First and foremost, I want... Because I want to be a success before that, obviously. But that recognition... I think we all have a little bit in us that you want that recognition. Wherever it's from your friends, your close network of people, family, or outside that. Why is a football player? Did you buy the paper? Or do you go online? What numbers besides your name? If you've got a four out of ten, that paper's getting thrown away. Get a nine out of ten, eight, eight. Well, you're looking for that recognition. And I think we've all got a little bit in that. Why do you say, "Well, done to your team? What do you... Members of your team?" Because you know that person will feed off of that recognition. So I'm not ashamed to say that. I'm definitely like that as well. Well, thank you so much for coming today. It means a lot. And you're an incredibly inspiring guy. Like, and I have no doubt that you're going to find that thing and it's going to become just as successful as everything else you've done in your life because you've got all the... You've got the philosophical attributes that are conducive with success. Like you're not someone that got lucky. You've clearly got a mindset that is conducive with success. And especially when you talk about how curious you are with things. Like, when I say it, I mean it. Like the way you look at me when I talk about something, like if I talk about something that's maybe a little bit outside of your realm of experience. You might as well have pen and paper in the hand because that's the facial expression, right? I've got a look, pads at home. That's going in. Really? I'm a smart guy who I reference in the podcast is this pretty little thing. And he was always the same. And he said to me, he was like, "I'd get 16 year olds in this office." And I'd be like, "Tell me about TikTok." And he just sits there and studies them. He doesn't know about it. He knows about it. But he will know through them. And he'll learn. And he said, "You should say to me, I'm a sponge." So my mood and Uma would invite me to the office. Sometimes four days a week. And I'd just sit in the office and they'd just ask me questions. And then you'd see them just sort of changing their strategy a little bit on social media, etc. And their record speaks for itself. But yeah, you've been a huge inspiration for me for many, many years as a leader, as a guy. I didn't know you before a couple of years ago when we met. And the guy you are and the leader you are is tremendously inspiring. You're a good guy. And you're incredibly inspiring as well. So thank you for making the time today. Don't you inspire me now as well? So it works both ways. I appreciate you. Appreciate you. Thank you. Cool, man. Thanks.


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