Selsport were very privileged to catch up with one of our favourite all time goalkeepers Nigel Martyn. A true legend who has won the hearts of fans with many exceptional performances for both club and country.
Thanks for taking time out this afternoon to speak to Selsport. Well, where to start, you have an impressive CV, Bristol Rovers, Crystal Palace, Leeds and Everton with the addition of 23 appearances for England. Are there any specific highlights that come to mind? Or maybe a standout moment?
There are so many that come to mind, making your debut for England was the pinnacle really. Although there have been lots of important games along the way that I have loved. European campaign with Leeds was great but being part of really good teams at Leeds, having a season or two at Palace when we finished third one year and then finishing my career at a great club Everton.
In terms of being part of a great set up was Leeds the stand out team in your opinion.
Yes I think so, we finished third behind Arsenal and Manchester United who at the time were the two big teams and it was a bit like winning the league outside those two who were beyond catching. At the time we had a really good squad
Champions League Semi-Final and we are thought it was going to push on from there but unfortunately that was as high as it went because the finances weren’t being looked after as they should have been.
And in terms of that squad it was a great team, during training who were the ones who really stood out?
We had some really good players obviously Lucas Radabe was a great player, we had Rio briefly at centre half he was a great player. Harry Kewell was a great player before his ankle injury he was probably our main threat and certainly the man to get the ball to as quickly as possible. Mark Viduka was a very good striker and then we had a lot of other players who did the work Lee Bowyer, Alan Smith and the full backs. It wasn’t just down to the star individuals each week and it was pointed out that it was with those guys who did the hard work too.
When you moved to Crystal Palace you became the first British £1,000,000 goalkeeper did that have an effect when you arrived at the Eagles?
No, I was very young and very naive in footballing terms at that point, it was little over two years since I first signed as a Pro at Bristol Rovers and to move for that figure it was other peoples valuation. It was the valuation between two football clubs and nothing more than that. All I had to do was to do my best in training and I think if you go out each time with the idea of giving your best and being part of a team and if you have that quality it should see you through.
Looking back as a goalkeeper coming through the ranks what did you find tough and what would you suggest any aspiring goalkeeper to work on?
You know its your all round game you have to work on, every single training session you have to work hard. There are going to days when you feel better than others when you don’t feel so good but that’s when you have to work ever harder and force yourself though it and continually work harder on your game at all aspects. Just because you are good at shots to your left you might not be good at taking crosses. Although what people tend to do is then spend all their time doing that to improve which is good to a certain extent but then neglect the things that they are good at. It’s an all round thing that you have to do.
You have played in the Premiership which many of us follow every week, what’s it like going out and facing a rival Premiership Team?
Looking back it’s exciting at the time it was another game to look forward to and perhaps take it for granted when you playing in it. You could ask that of all the players playing currently and they would say no you don’t, no you don’t but when you finish and look back you say yeah maybe you do. Your very privileged to be playing in that league at that level and for me I was at a club where I trained hard and turned out on a Saturday and tried my best and I didn’t try to complicate it beyond that really.
And when you were in the Premiership was there a particular striker that you thought you had to be in top form today?
No one in particular but you were playing against teams each week that had top strikers and we probably had more top English strikers when I was playing you would have the likes of Alan Shearer, Ian Wright, Robbie Fowler and Teddy Sheringham, Andy Cole, Dwight York there were loads and loads of strikers so it didn’t matter who you were playing, each team had at least one great player that you had to watch out for. And there were different types of players there were the goal scorers who would hurt you by scoring and then there were the bigger guys who you know you would have a tough game against which you would perhaps prepare for slightly differently. If you were up against a Duncan Ferguson it was going to be a physical game and you would certainly have to stand up to him.
Was Duncan Ferguson the monster everyone made him out to be?
You know it was one of things moving to Everton I wondered what he was really like and you know what, he is a really nice calm guy. He would be in the player’s lounge playing around messing about with the kids but on the field he’d be a different kettle of fish. I think if you stood up against him he respected you and he didn’t if you caved under the pressure of him. I actually broke his ribs when I was playing for Crystal Palace I was clearing a ball wide of the goal and he was coming in to leave a bit on me to be honest and I managed to get the ball away and get myself ready for the collision which was coming.
Did he remember that?
Yes he did but typical of him he still managed to score after his ribs were broken, I think we finally drew 2 all and he went off at half time, so he was a tough guy as well.
While at Everton you wore Selsport gloves, how did Selsport live up to things?
I wasn’t getting paid by Selsport to wear gloves I could have got paid by other company’s to wear gloves. So I choose to wear what was best for me rather than what was best for me financially. It what was about the quality of the glove for me and you had a glove that was real quality and that’s what should be most important in a goalkeepers mind. It felt right on and if you’re confident with what you are wearing you will be more confident playing and if your confident you’ll play better, that’s a fact.
Ever fancied a return and going into management?
EEEHHHH NO! You see the managers seem to age prematurely, sometimes in a matter of weeks. You have to be certain type of person to be a manager and I would be far too soft, I’d be trying to get 14 players on the pitch if I had players knocking on my door giving me reasons why they should be playing, I’d end up agreeing with them.
Some really great answers thanks you Nigel do you think you could just end with giving us a Nigel Martyn top goalkeeping tip?
For me it was working as hard as you could as often as you could and always give your best. Never go out there and feel 100% and not be bothered really make the effort to give it your all and enjoy what you’re doing. If you enjoy what you do you will do it much better. That feeling of wanting to make saves and feeling good about it but on the flip side you work hard as well. I grow up in an era where it was all about competition with the goalies who could work the hardest, that would be the case though every level and afterwards talked about what they did in training it was almost a bragging thing and I think that’s important. It’s more than just turning up on a Saturday and diving around your goal it’s about putting the hours practice in. Whatever time your have during the week put the practice in, take it seriously and don’t mess around, the more you practice things the better you get at them.
Brilliant interview thanks Nigel