When did you pick up the gloves for the first time, and why?
I can’t remember the exact age I was, but I became a goalkeeper because my dad was. I saw him playing and always wanted to be a keeper. He played for his work side, after having played professionally when he was younger but then we moved to Northern Ireland.
Who was your goalkeeping hero when you were growing up and what did you admire about him?
It was Pat Jennings. I watched him for Northern Ireland when I was growing up, and he did really well for us. He got us to the World Cup finals so he was a hero to a lot of kids in Northern Ireland. He had everything – he didn’t just use his hands, he used his whole body to stop shots and was good with his feet as well. He was great in his box, just a good all-round keeper.
Who did you support when you were a kid?
I followed my local side in Northern Ireland when I was younger, and I also followed Linfield. I didn’t pay much attention to English sides at that point, to be honest. We just used to say we supported whoever had won the League the season before!
What was it like joining a huge club like United after learning your trade with Wigan and Hull?
It was a very big step up for me. I played in the Third Division then the Second Division, so to skip the First Division and come straight to United was a big step. I’ve enjoyed it so far though.
What were the immediate differences you noticed?
There’s better players in the Premiership, of course. There’s a lot more football to play here, too. It’s hard work in the lower leagues, with teams just belting the ball upfield and bypassing midfield. Here you build from the back a lot more, passing it round well – that’s what I like about this club.
Competition for places in the first team is fiercer here as well - how did you feel when Ricardo arrived?
I didn’t feel good or bad. Ricardo’s a good keeper. The manager says that you need three good keepers at a club, and now we’ve got that again. I’m just happy to be one of them. I knew when I came here that Fabien was number one so it’s up to me to get ahead of Ricardo and force my way into the sixteen man squad. I’ll be keeping Ricardo on his toes, and Fabien as well. Maybe he’ll make a mistake so I’ll be working hard in training so I’m ready for the call if and when it comes.
Have you noticed differences in the way goalkeepers from the Continent work compared to the methods used by British keepers?
Yes, I’ve picked a lot of things off Ricardo and Fabien. Ricardo’s a great shot-stopper and Fabien is very quick between the sticks. I’ve learnt from them and last season I learnt from Raimond van der Gouw and Tony Coton. You learn from everyone, even outfield players. Keepers these days tend to play with their feet more than their hands so it’s great to be able to watch the likes of Roy Keane and David Beckham, the way they’re so confident on the ball.
Fabien Barthez is known for his forays out of the box – have you ever been tempted to go on a bit of a stroll during a match?
Not at the moment – he’s much better than me at that and he’s got much better feet. I’d probably end up falling over!
It must be inspiring working with a man who has won the World Cup. What sort of advice has Fabien given you?
He’s just said that keepers have to get more involved and play more with their feet. He said you have to be more of an outfield player than a goalkeeper. I just watch him, though. He doesn’t have to say anything, he’s just so incredible between the sticks. He’s had a lot of clean sheets this season, and hopefully he can keep another one against Portsmouth.
Over the last couple of seasons there have been a lot of changes in the team’s back four – from a goalkeeper’s point of view how does it help if there is a settled defence in front of you?
You need a settled back-four, as it’s very hard for a keeper to play behind a defence that’s changing every week. There’s a lot to get used to, so playing with the same players for a run can certainly help. But at this club everybody knows everybody very well, and anyone who comes into the side is capable of doing a job. You saw that in the Worthington Cup against Burnley where a few young players came in and did really well.
Everyone wants to play as much first team football as possible – can you envisage wanting to move on if you didn't establish yourself as the first choice keeper some time down the line?
I don’t like to look that far ahead. I’ve only just arrived really, and I knew Fabien was number one when I arrived. I’m still young, so hopefully in the next two or three years I’m going to be pushing for that number one shirt.
You played in the Euro qualifying defeat against Zalaegerszeg... Do you think that contributed to a lack of confidence earlier in the season?
Well we won the tie as a whole. We lost 1-0 over there but beat them 5-0 at Old Trafford, so that can’t have harmed our confidence. We knew we could have won over there, as we had loads of chances and they only scored in the last couple of minutes. But we knew we could score at Old Trafford.
And you played in the opening game of the season against West Brom... was it a thrill keeping a clean sheet in such an important game?
It’s always great to get three points under your belt in the first game of the season. It was good for me to get a clean sheet, too. But it was a team performance – I think I only had one shot to save! It was a good experience though.
How do you stay focused when you're on the bench with a slim chance of getting on?
Just concentration. You watch the game very carefully and see what everyone is doing – the opposition’s strikers mainly. Then if you do get on you’re up to speed with the game.
What's been your best performance in a United shirt?
I’m not sure to be honest – we’ll just say that the best is yet to come.