Last updated : 08 August 2004 By Editor

"You know, I got thousands of Valentine’s cards, 6,000 of them one year

"I’d go to book signings, and there’d be roads blocked and traffic jams on the M4. I never really thought about it. Now I look back and . . . I miss it a little bit. Yeah.

"I’d best be careful what I say here, but I do, a little bit. I don ’t want to go back there now, but it was fun at the time. It was exciting.

"I don’t think I let it change me. There were people, like my mum (Lynn), Harry ’s old-school, gentlemanly agent and the manager, who looked after me. I’ve been lucky in that respect. Also, I think, it’s just my manner, the way I am. I think there are players who enjoy the attention, who probably get above their stations, who think that after one or two seasons, they’ve made it. I never thought like that. I always thought, ‘This is a career’, and I was probably quite mature at a young age.

"Nowadays I do photo-shoots for Reebok (his kit sponsor) and that’s about it, really. When you’re young, you probably get more offers, and the offers now are fewer, but I’m also in a good position where I can say, ‘I don’t want to do that’.

"I’ve tried to add to my game.

"I’m probably not as lightning quick as I was when I was 18 or 19 - like any player - but I’m still relatively quick. You do lose speed, and you have to compensate, yet I was never Thierry Henry quick or Michael Owen quick. I’ve always felt that my best ability is my balance, and that will probably never change.

"I went through a spell five or six years ago when I tried to change my game too much. I’d get the ball and try to cross it instead of thinking about running at the defender. As I’ve got older, I’ve worked hard to provide a better final ball, and perhaps in the midst of all that I lost what I was good at. But I think I’ve got it back now.

"When you start to think about your game, that’s when I, personally, am at my worst. When I do things instinctively, that’s when I’m at my best. I don’t let my confidence get shattered in the way it used to when I don’t beat my man or I have a stinker. When you’re a young player and the crowd are jeering at you, it affects you."

The rest of this interview is here:,,2767-1206730_1,00.html