I arrived in England from Lagos in 1977, very confused and cold. The idea of going out in only a shirt and a pair of shorts to play a game called rugby was completely alien to me. I didn't enjoy it at all.
But I was at boarding school and to get in with the crowd you had to play rugby, so after about a year I decided to give it a proper go. I was lucky in that I'm naturally quite strong and I could pick up the ball and run. So that's what I did, and eventually I learnt the rules.
I got into the England schools squad, which was my first taste of international rugby and quite a thing to achieve. I love the whole ethos of the sport. But to succeed you have to be focused and determined. I hate training, but you have to put in the hours.
When I left Oxford in 1990, I decided to give myself three years in which to try to get picked for the England squad. I joined Bath to find out whether I was really good enough. Just when my three years were nearly up I was picked to tour Argentina, and after we got back I got my first England cap.
I had spotted sporting bars in South Africa and the US, and saw there was a potential market for the same type of thing here. So I joined forces with an Oxford pal and we started up the first Shoeless Joe's in the King's Road in London. We had our fair share of knockbacks getting the backing, but our perseverance and belief paid off.
We were taking a huge risk, because it was a new concept and we weren't sure how people were going to react. But I'm not scared of failure. I'd rather try and fail than never have a go. We've now opened a second venue in Temple and I'm looking for more locations to expand the concept.
Playing international rugby is extremely demanding, especially since it turned professional. Working for myself gives me flexibility, but it involves serious discipline. You just have to have the balls to go for things. If you don't, you will find yourself looking back and saying "What if?".Reuse content