Football: Life just a twirl again for Flowers

Phil Shaw talks to the Leicester goalkeeper who is enjoying his return to the limelight after a frustrating spell in Blackburn Rovers' reserves

IN SIX MONTHS Tim Flowers went from being a member of England's World Cup squad in France to playing for Blackburn Rovers' reserves at such footballing hotbeds as Hednesford and Newcastle-under-Lyme. Lesser characters might have felt like throwing in the towel. Flowers just wanted to twirl his in triumph again.

Towel-twirling - the rapid rotation of said item around the head after a match - is Flowers' sole concession to the eccentricity that makes goalkeepers a breed apart. Since he learned his trade under that most notorious of non-conformist custodians, John Burridge, perhaps his new colleagues at Leicester City should count their blessings. It is not any old towel, however, but one emblazoned with the Union Jack. Nor is it routinely thrust into the air; this is a ritual reserved for victories.

Little was seen of the red, white and blue talisman last season. Blackburn slid out of the Premiership just four years after taking the championship, while Flowers did not start a single match once Brian Kidd replaced Roy Hodgson as manager in November. During the close season, Kidd accepted both his transfer request and the pounds 1.1m which Martin O'Neill offered for the 32-year-old Midlander on Leicester's behalf.

Already it looks like one of the snips of the year. The speed with which Flowers has settled into Kasey Keller's shoes has stirred memories among Leicester followers of the way Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton once commanded Filbert Street's penalty areas. After an outstanding display against Chelsea last Saturday in front of Kevin Keegan's goalkeeping coach, Ray Clemence, he may even return to the England fold for next month's crucial Euro 2000 qualifiers.

At the end, despite conceding a costly own goal by Frank Sinclair in stoppage time for the second week running, the born-again keeper saluted the crowd and hugged friends and foes alike. "I always do that," he said. "Enjoying it, whatever the result, and having a rapport with the fans are two of the many things I learned from Budgie [Burridge], but to be honest I was just thrilled to have played in such a great game.

"After my last six months at Blackburn, playing for Leicester has brought home to me how badly I missed the buzz and the atmosphere of the Premiership. The only reason I asked to leave was because I wasn't playing, not because they weren't winning or because they got relegated.

"It was soul-destroying to work hard all week for no end-product. I love the big build-up to a match, yet apart from coming on as substitute twice I was stuck on the bench or playing in the Pontins League against Birmingham at Hednesford and Stoke at Newcastle Town."

Kidd made it plain that he preferred John Filan between the posts. "I didn't agree with him and he told me: `Fine, I don't expect you to' and agreed when I said I ought to be playing first-team football," said Flowers. "Hence my departure! But I don't want to criticise Kiddo or anyone at Blackburn because I had a fantastic time there. I can't let six bad months sour six great years."

That said, Flowers was sad to see so much good work "frittered away". He felt they had not built on a position of strength after winning the title, instead allowing a steady stream of high-quality players to leave. He also sensed that something magical was lost with the break-up of the partnership between Kenny Dalglish and Ray Harford.

"They complemented each other brilliantly. When they were together we thought we could go anywhere and win. It was devastating when Kenny left. He was the reason I went there rather than Liverpool. When he was trying to buy me from Southampton he made me feel as if I was the one person in the world he wanted to sign. It wasn't just his persistence or the fact that he was a World XI player, a legend who'd done everything, but his aura."

O'Neill's enthusiasm in pursuing Flowers reminded him of Dalglish. "He was so positive about everything, it bowled me over. It was the same when I came to Leicester and met John Robertson and Steve Walford [assistant manager and coach respectively]. It's a bit of a throwback club in that respect. There's a tight-knit, community feel about the place which makes you feel at home."

Leicester's three matches so far have vindicated his belief that there was a leavening of class to go with the team spirit and work ethic. But for Sinclair's bizarre double they would have been going to West Ham on Saturday as joint leaders, although Flowers argues that the former Chelsea defender has probably been their best player to date.

Like his "role model", Burridge, who is now coaching in the Middle East, Flowers aims to play until he is 40. "My style is totally different to Budgie's because I'm a different shape and a different person. But when we were at Wolves together and again at Southampton he always put in 100 per cent, which is what I try to do.

"People said he was an oddball, and I do remember him listening to a shrink on his headset before games and eating little tubs of rice with a plastic fork. But he'd say to me: `I'll tell you what's odd: going to nightclubs until three in the morning, blowing a grand at the bookies, smoking 60 a day'. I'm no saint but I'm not a night owl. I like to be in bed by 10 o'clock." Which may be why Flowers' other little idiosyncrasy, leaving spoof messages on Alan Shearer's answer-phone, is a thing of the past. The England captain, he explained, tended to retaliate at 4am.

But the infamous towel lives on, to one fan's dismay. "I've had this letter," laughed Flowers, "which said: `You must be a right tramp. You've had that stinking old rag about eight years. Don't you ever wash it?' Sometimes I think: `That's my lucky towel', but if I'm crap it's the towel's fault."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?