Playing for Bolton Wanderers F.C.
Bolton was a massive learning curve for me.
It was brilliant to go through a couple of promotions. We got promoted by beating Preston in one of the play-offs. We also reached the League Cup final against Liverpool – which was bittersweet for me, we lost the game, but I got to play against Liverpool at Wembley – which was amazing for us as a Championship club.
We had some great cup runs – we knocked Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton out of the FA Cup. We had some great times, and we had a great team and a great manager – Bruce Rioch.
The learning curve for me was quick and steep, and it set me up for what was to be a very enjoyable football career.
Liverpool came and got me, and that was my dream come true to play for them. When they parted with four and half million quid, it was great for everyone concerned.
It’s a difficult thing to deal with, really, especially when you’re a Liverpool fan and then all of a sudden you sign for the football club. You’ve still got that childish excitement of that dream coming true, and you can’t really get over it.
But you quickly need to turn on your professional mode. When you put on that jersey at the end of the day, you’ve got a job to do – and that’s win. That’s all that matters when you play for Liverpool – winning football matches. The fan that’s in you need to be put to bed quickly, and you need to get down to business.
That’s all I can really remember—walking out at Anfield. You’ll never walk alone. To have that feeling was just immense. The adrenaline rush. Something that I won’t forget. But you quickly got to get down to business and put your professional head on.
Bruce Rioch produced the team spirit at Bolton. We had a mix of Scottish players, young players like myself, Alan Stubbs and Alan Thompson, and senior players like John McGinlay, Andy Walker and Phil Brown – it was a great blend.
We had this real never give up attitude, which Bruce Rioch installed in the team. He was strict, but he was fair. Everyone rallied around when they needed to. We had some big results. Big cup runs and lots of promotions. It was great.
Leaving Bolton was obviously sad – especially after producing so many great memories, but to sign for Liverpool was a massive change for me. No disrespect to Bolton, but Liverpool were one of the biggest clubs in the world at the time – and they always have been.
To put on that red jersey, the pressure was immense. You could feel the pressure of the history and legacy of the football club from its previous decades. Having to perform straight away was very difficult. It was a challenge I enjoyed – I enjoyed the pressure and playing with players my age like Steven McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Jamie Redknapp.
Although we didn’t bring the success that was demanded of us, we did some great things at Anfield.
Favourite moment for Liverpool
My best moment playing for Liverpool was probably scoring at the Kop end.
We know how much the Kop means to Liverpool, and certainly to Liverpool players. To score at the Kop end was very, very special. I wasn’t known for my scoring ability; I was more of a provider playing on the wing as a wing-back for Liverpool, but I managed to score my first goal at the Kop end in an FA Cup game against Rochdale, and it was great.
It was probably the sixth goal – but I celebrated like it was the winner against Manchester United.
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